Millennia TEA frozen tea products find success

A New Brunswick-based company was recently recognized for its frozen tea plant products.

Millennia TEA was named the Best New Product in the Over the Counter Healthcare category at the Retail Council of Canada’s Grand Prix Awards in Toronto.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Tracy Bell says the awards are like the Oscars of the food and beverage world, and the recognition is a “big deal” to her and her team.

“This honor means so much to us because it continues to lend credibility around our innovation,” she says. “People talk about functional food, food is medicine, better-for-you ingredients, so that we can stay healthier longer – it means so much because it lends credibility to the good that we’re trying to do in the world and the product that we are trying to build.”

A few years ago, her family didn’t even drink tea. The idea for Millennia TEA came after a loved one had a health scare.

Bell says they started looking at the healthy properties in the tea plant. When they couldn’t find the plant in its raw form, or anyone that would sell it, they started a business.

“Everybody knows that tea is good for you, obviously, but what we learned is that if you take that plant and you don’t cook it, you keep it in its most real, raw form, then it’s better for you. It sort of maximizes the naturally powerful health properties already found in the plant.”

While Atlantic Canada is steeped in a great tradition of tea, like the King Cole and Red Rose brands, Bell says her company “pretty much do the opposite.”

All teas begin with the same plant, but what makes them different is how they are processed, or cooked.

“We take that same beautiful plant, we work with farmer partners in the mountains in central Sri Lanka and pick organic tea leaves, but instead of drawing them and cooking them, like conventional teas, we wash them and we flash freeze them.”

She says the process is similar to how frozen wild blueberries are washed and frozen on the same day they are harvested.

“Then we form them into cubes, or we have them loose, which could be popped into a smoothie, or drink them like a hot tea. But we believe that tea is food, and so we make it so that folks can enjoy it as sort of that super food booster for your smoothie, or your other recipes.”

She admits that frozen edible tea is not something many people are familiar with, which makes winning the award even more special.

“There’s not a picture that comes to most people’s minds. When I say ‘Hey, don’t look for us in the tea and coffee isolate, go to Sobeys go to Superstore, go to your local health food store, and find us in the freezer beside the frozen fruits and berries,’ that’s asking a lot of consumers. It’s a big mindset shift to consider the most consumed beverage in the world in a way that folks have never considered it before.”

The company’s next goal is to look at other kinds of holes that exist in the frozen food market.

“So we’re looking at taking our frozen tea leaves and then boosting them with other things that help support people’s energy and gut health and immunity — things that the tea plant does now, but adding some other things to it,” says Bell .

The company is also meeting with interested customers and clients in the United States this week.

Millennia TEA products are sold in sold in stores across Canada.

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