Novel tea steeped in packaging innovation

By Rick Lingle in Beverage Packaging on January 29, 2018

Tea of a Kind bottles available in a unique one-bottle four-pack are capped by the pressurized Vessl closure and delivery device that preserves the functional ingredients and actively disperses the contents.

 

Tea is both a product and a beverage steeped in history and traditions both ancient and new.

And while it traces its roots back to more than a millennia BC, creative and entrepreneurial types continue to reinvent it for a new generation of devotees using exclusive sources, unusual flavors and of course novel packaging. Exemplary of the latter is a new packaged format from Vessl, Inc. Tempe, AZ, when its Tea of a Kind (TOAK) brand introduced a one-of-a-kind “Eco 4-Pack” that may be the most unusual multipack of tea or any beverage that you’ve seen: It doesn’t have four bottles.

Instead, it’s a one-bottle four-pack that delivers four 16-oz servings.

How is that possible?

The single water-filled bottle is sealed with a patented, pressurized “Vessl” cap that contains liquid ingredients comprising all-natural flavors, real brewed tea and powerful antioxidants. The concentrated liquid is preserved inside an oxygen depleted, nitrogen-flushed and pressurized Vessl cap that’s sealed to protect the freshly brewed tea against UV light and oxidation that typically degrade flavor, color, aroma and antioxidants’ potency in traditional ready-to-drink bottled teas.

Unlike other ingredient containing specialty caps that require an extra step to open, the consumer twists the Vessl cap off as any normal cap. That motion opens a valve inside to release the ingredients directly into the bottle filled with 16oz of purified water. “Releases” is an understatement, the ingredients literally jet under 100 psi of nitrogen pressure, injecting a strong dose of product and consumer interaction into the highly visual process. You can view videos of the dramatic, instant blending process at the company's homepage found below.

The cap comprises two subassemblies that telescope into each other; the cap reservoir has a 5.4mL capacity, but only 3.7mL is required for the teas according to Walter Apodaca, Vessl founder and CEO. That extra space allows volume for the nitrogen gas propellant.

Versus a true 4-bottle multipack, the space-saving Eco 4-pack carton contains a single capped PET bottle and three Vessl cap refills (bundled and sealed together with clear film) that all fit into less than half the space of two bottles. There’s also two clear plastic sleeves to keep the components’ looking neat and tidy. After use, consumers refill the bottle with water and screw on a new cap for a fresh serving. Vessl, Inc. has the global licensing and use rights to the Vessl technology.

At press time Vessl was rolling out new label graphics as seen in the image above.

"It was refreshed to more clearly communicate key messaging around calories, flavor and other benefits," says Apodaca. "We had not updated the packaging for a couple years and it was due.  We also added the new flavor, Yerba Mate , so the timing made sense."

 

Sustainability benefits

"Launching the recyclable Eco 4-Pack is a key milestone on our path to utilizing the Vessl closure and delivery device to challenge the disposable bottle paradigm,” states Apodaca. “This package aligns our values with retailers and consumers that share our concern for health and the environment."

The Tea of a Kind Eco 4-Pack was launched last year at select stores in Arizona, selling for $6.99 compared to a single bottles priced at round $2.29 each.  It offers die-cut windows protected by clear plastic inserts. Although marked for a two-year shelf life per government restrictions the products have tested viable for a 5-year shelf life, according to Apodaca. That’s impressive longevity for antioxidants.

The multipack follows the introduction of the award-winning TOAK single bottles, launched in 2013 and distributed in 10 western states. The bottles' innovation were recognized by awards from InterBev and U.S. Tea Assn. The uniquely packaged products were also winning in the market: According to Nielsen data for the current distribution territory that was shared by Apodaca, TOAK is the 19th largest of 300 tea brands and 4th among top 20 fastest-growing tea brands. Not bad for a four-year old.

Besides beverages, other Vessl forms introduced include Phyto2Go, a turnkey manufactured product for Amway’s line of Nutrilite nutraceutical beverages packed with Vitamin C and Zinc for extra immune support that were launched into 32 countries in a reusable bottle and refill caps. Apodaca views Vessl as a technology platform springboard across a number of product categories from dairy to household, garden and more.  And as of 2018 “more” includes a drinkable 10mg cannabis dose.

 

New markets, new products and marijuana

That new product, Kalvara, was introduced in late 2017 and takes Vessl-driven packaging into yet another arena: cannabis in a drinkable form to be sold in states where marijuana is legalized.

Apodaca believes the Vessl delivery system offers a couple of crucial advantages over conventional edible forms.

“The problem with edibles is that due to slow onset and imprecise dosing, users don’t know exactly how much THC they are actually getting,” he explains. “Many people are scared after a first try and don’t return to the product, but this delivery format solves those concerns.  Kalvara is produced using a unique nanoemulsion of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, that allows for rapid onset and higher bioavailability. ”

While details remain limited, here’s what Apodaca told Packaging Digest about the unique offering that…

  • Reduces the cost of delivery, the cost per dose and cost per unit;
  • Does not need to be refrigerated;
  • Overcomes legal challenges in the market;
  • Provides barriers to heat, oxygen and ultraviolet light;
  • Delivers a precise amount and dosing level;
  • Offers rapid onset and high bio-availability that makes the THC readily available to the body.

Want to learn more? The innovative cannabis packaging will be the subject of a conference session Wednesday February 7 during WestPack 2018 (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA) on Beyond the Baggie: The Future of Cannabis Containers. For more information, visit the WestPack site.

As a brainstorming entrepreneur, Apodaca sees no shortage of options that leverage Vessl’s broad-based utility across product markets, identifying Next-Generation Vessl designs that include a dual-chamber option, sport cap solution and a unique hair coloring application.

For more information, visit Vessl Inc.

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