By Annemarie Mannion
Pioneer Press Newspapers, Suburban Chicago.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A tea entrepreneur from the suburbs of Chicago is a finalist in a competition for distribution with online grocer Peapod. A VP of merchandising for Peapod says he is impressed with 10th Avenue Tea, which is part of bigger trends in the food world including consumers wanting to drink healthy beverages and to reduce their impact on the environment. (by the way, for women in business with a focus on beverages….WWR loves Tea! Check out our “Time for Tea” series on www.workingwomanreport.com)
Pioneer Press Newspapers
A La Grange-based purveyor of teas is a finalist in Peapod’s Next Best, a competition to win a one-year distribution deal with the online grocer.
Named for a street in La Grange, 10th Avenue Tea is the brainchild of Ann Foley, a La Grange resident who launched the company in September because she wanted to reduce the waste she saw in beverage packing materials like K-Cups and tea bags.
She’s working with her sister-in-law, Morgan Walsh of Los Angeles, to produce a flavorful ready-to-mix tea that also is kind to the environment.
The winner from among three finalists will be announced during an airing of “Windy City Live” from 11 a.m. to noon on March 7. The contest received about 200 applications from food vendors and producers.
Foley is excited about what winning a distribution deal with Peapod could mean for her fledgling company. TV appearances during the contest on the talk show “Windy City Live,” which is a partner in the contest, have already given the company a boost.
“It’s been great,” Foley said. “Every day we’re on TV we get a ton of online orders.”
Tony Stallone, vice president of merchandising for Peapod, is impressed with 10th Avenue Tea, which is part of bigger trends in the food world including consumers wanting to drink healthy beverages and to reduce their impact on the environment.
“Tea is a growing category. It’s a hot trend,” he said. “I think it’s an extremely innovative product. The packaging is convenient and it is environmentally friendly. I really like the flavor of the tea,” he said.
The tea powders are an all-natural blend contained in a metal shaker bottle with 60 servings.
“You can just shake it into a cup and add cold or hot water,” Foley said.
She was spurred to create the new product after learning about the scope of waste created from ready-to-brew teas and coffees.
“We thought, ‘Why can’t something be convenient and not kill the earth?” he said.
10th Avenue Tea is available in four varieties: green blend (green tea and matcha), chai blend (black tea, matcha and chai spices), tropical blend (green tea, matcha, kiwi and peach) and English blend (black tea, matcha and English breakfast flavor).
The other finalists in the competition are Old Arthur’s Barbecue Sauce, based on a family recipe passed down through five generations, and Wismo ‘El Mejor’ Tortilla Chips, which are made using freshly ground corn harvested from the far Southern United States and Mexico, and cooked using only GMO-free oils..
Foley said she worked for eight months with a food chemist to develop the product. The biggest challenge in creating the green product has been changing people’s ideas about packaging.
“They think bigger packaging means more,” she said. “Our tea is super concentrated in a tiny bottle.”
Foley said regardless of the results, her next step may also be on TV. She’s applying to appear on Shark Tank, the ABC show that allows entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to business tycoons in hopes of receiving an investment.
Pioneer Press columnist Lynn Petrak contributed to this article.