Cup of tea

U.S. retail sales of tea and ready-to-drink tea grew 19.8 percent to $7.3 billion between 2009 and 2014, according to Chicago-based market research firm Mintel. The Tea Association of the USA cited that 85 percent of tea consumed in America is iced tea, and loose-leaf iced tea is gaining in popularity. The popularity of tea has led to a focus on specialty tea, including matcha. According to the Atlanta-based Sage Group, U.S. retail sales of matcha green tea powder grew by about
55 percent in 2014. This tea trend is further evidenced by The National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot 2015 Culinary Forecast,” which revealed specialty iced tea, such as flavored tea and matcha, as trending in non-alcohol beverages.


All aboard the Big Game Train 

The Napa Valley Wine Train, offering guests a 36-mile round-trip journey from Napa Valley to St. Helena, Calif., announced the Big Game Train, which celebrates Super Bowl 50. Superstar NFL and MLB athletes and coaches — Dick Vermeil, Vida Blue, Rick Mirer, Terry Hoage, Dave Wilcox, Damon Huard and Sam Williams — will be aboard the train on Feb. 3 offering meet-and-greet opportunities throughout the three-hour journey through Napa Valley wine country. Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald will curate a special four-course menu to pair with Vermeil Wines, a portfolio of Napa Valley wines of which Dick Vermeil is a part owner. Wine pairings will include the Vermeil Wines Sauvignon Blanc, “Dutton Ranch” Chardonnay, XXXIV Proprietary Red Wine and Zinfandel Luvisi “1908” Vineyard. Additionally, Mirer will pour tastes of his Mirror Sauvignon Blanc, and Hoage will pour tastes of his TH Estates Gap Cuvee Blanc.


Coffee with a cause 

Our Coffee with a Cause provides teens and adults with disabilities on-the-job training in the coffee business along with customer service skills. As part of the training, the employees asked prospective consumers at November Small Business Saturday events on Nov. 1 and 28 to purchase any of Our Coffee with a Cause’s whole bean or ground coffee products, which include Colombian, French Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice, Hazelnut and Sumatra, in decaffeinated, organic or K-Cup variations. They also explained that the sales proceeds would benefit Our Own Place, which provides educational and job training programs, such as those available at Our Coffee, for persons with disabilities. For more information, visit


Distilling the future

Louisville Distilling Co. LLC, producers of the Angel’s Envy super-premium bourbon whiskey, will partner with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 4,000 White Oak trees next spring as a result of the Toast the Trees social media initiative. The brand promised to plant one White Oak tree in North America for every picture of an Angel’s Envy cocktail fans submitted on social media this past September. Additionally, a $16,000 donation will be used to restore the original composition of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Laurel County, Ky., to make the site more productive for wildlife, the company says.



Heineken USA is upping the stakes on game day with its What’s Your Play? portfolio retail program running through Feb. 28. The comprehensive program includes football-themed point-of-sale materials, digital partnerships, a Twitter-driven sweepstakes and cross-merchandising opportunities to inspire legal-drinking-age men to up their game by choosing Heineken, Heineken Light, Dos Equis, Tecate, Tecate Light and Strongbow Hard Ciders for their game day celebrations. Leveraging the success of last year’s campaign, the company is offering bigger challenges, bigger prizes and new ways to answer this football season, it says. To kick off the program, consumers are invited to follow @WhatsYourPlay on Twitter. On football game days, portfolio brands and @WhatsYourPlay will ask fans to share their best plays for life’s daily challenges. Fans reply via Twitter with their entries for a chance to win prizes and receive a digital coupon, via return tweet, driving them back to the store for additional purchases.


Doubling selection

The Double Cola Co. announced that it has expanded its partnership with Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, which now will offer SKI nationwide in addition to Double Cola. This marks the first nationwide distribution of SKI in its 60-year history, the company says. In Double Cola fashion, fans were able to vote for one of two bottle and case designs to be offered in the stores, and they chose the “Retro SKI” design. “We are extremely excited about adding to our partnership with Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores to allow for consumers to have the opportunity to take a sip of SKI in a whole new way,” said Gina Dhanani, vice president of the Double Cola Co., in a statement.


Saving by educating

Finlandia Vodka unveiled its plans for a new documentary short series: “Journey From the Source: A Search For Less Ordinary Wisdom.”  The multi-episode series seeks to raise awareness for the importance of preserving the world’s pure water sources — a cause central to the brand’s core it says. The series will travel from Finland to America chronicling pure water advocates who share the brand’s passion for water conservation and have a relationship with the planet’s rivers, waves and mountains. The documentary series is hosted by Cory Richards, explorer and National Geographic documentarian, and consists of four episodes that will roll out over the course of five months on Finlandia’s YouTube channel. Finlandia also will release a variety of behind-the-scenes assets, trailers and “making of” vignettes via its social media channels and content partners.


Bitter or sweet?

Campari unveiled the full range of imagery for its iconic 2016 calendar starring award-winning Hollywood actress and entrepreneur Kate Hudson. In this year’s 17th edition of the Calendar Collection titled “The BitterSweet Campaign,” Hudson takes the stage as two opposing political candidates — Bitter and Sweet — in a play on Campari’s unique and versatile bittersweet flavor profile, the company says. For the first time in the calendar’s history, consumers have been asked to share their opinion by following the campaign through the brand’s social channels and via the hashtags #goBitter and #goSweet, it adds. The brand also created a website where consumers can engage with content to get live updates on each party’s progress, take the BitterSweet test to see which party they truly belong to and vote. The calendar, of which only 9,999 copies are printed, will not go on sale but will be shared with friends of Campari around the world.