Business

Shaka Tea Poised for Expansion

March 7, 2017, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated March 7, 12:25 PM
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Shaka Tea photo: Semira N. Nikou.

Shaka Tea, the first line of iced teas brewed from Hawaiian-grown māmaki, a plant found only in the Hawaiian archipelago, has closed its first angel round of investment.

Leading investors include Grant Ferrier, co-founder and managing director of Nutrition Capital Network; Michael Hammer, managing director of Atomic Brand Lab and former senior director of Strategic Ventures at PepsiCo; and James S. Tonkin, president of Healthy Brand Builders.

In addition to being investors, the trio joins co-founders Bella Hughes and Harrison Rice as part of the strategic operations team.

“Shaka Tea is a strong and attractive brand, with a Hawaiian ethos that is locally resonant and globally appealing,” said Ferrier. “We are excited to help Shaka Tea grow. There has been white space in the RTD [ready to drink] iced tea category for a while, and we believe Shaka’s line of iced teas is incredibly distinctive, delicious and timely for the market in Hawai’i, on the mainland and in Asia,”

Shaka Tea was launched in April 2016 in three tropical flavors reflective of the islands; all are named after towns in Hawaiʻi:

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· Honokaʻa: Mango Hibiscus
· Kōloa: Guava Gingerblossom
· Hilo: Pineapple Mint

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With no added sugar, Shaka Tea is a light  beverage with five organic and natural ingredients or less per bottle. Shaka Tea comes in at 50 to 90 calories per 16-ounce bottle.

Brewed from māmaki, a native plant revered in the Native Hawaiian community for centuries for its health benefits, scientific studies show māmaki is rich in antioxidants and minerals, including catechins, rutin and chlorogenic acid.

Shaka Tea is distributed by Paradise Beverages in Hawaiʻi and plans for targeted, national growth are on the horizon. The company has exclusivity in the RTD category with Hawai‘i’s largest grower of māmaki and is working to cultivate a broader co-op of māmaki farmers supporting a sustainable agroforestry model.

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Since launching in March 2016, Shaka Tea has been recognized by Specialty Food Magazine and Beverage Daily for being the first line of RTD iced teas brewed from māmaki.

Shaka Tea President Hughes won a spot as one of three national Trailblazers at Food Vision USA 2016.

Shaka Tea was a finalist at Bevnet’s New Beverage Showdown 12 and at Hawaiʻi Venture Capital Association for People’s Startup of the Year. Shaka Tea was also honored to be highlighted in Gov. David Ige’s 2017 State of the State as an example of innovation in the business community and entrepreneurship.

“It’s really wonderful for Shaka Tea not only to gain investment to support growth by closing this angel round but also to expand our operations team with such an experienced group in the food and beverage space,” said Hughes. “Grant, Jim and Michael share our vision of sharing an authentic Hawaiian tea with the world, while simultaneously supporting our community through regenerative agriculture and growing the māmaki industry locally,”

About Shaka Tea

Shaka Tea offers the first line of Hawaii-grown bottled teas brewed from the Hawaiian super leaf māmaki, and flavored with natural purees and organic juices. The company works to support sustainable agriculture in Hawai‘i, while offering authentic, healthy Hawai‘i-grown beverages across the islands and beyond. An updated list of markets can be found at shakatea.com.

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