LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A small Louisville beverage company is growing and has plans to get even bigger. It is riding the trend to more healthy eating and drinking.
"This is basically Louisville's tea," says the CTO of Rooibee Red Tea, chief tea officer, Heather Howell. Rooibee Red Tea is bottled in Louisville and was founded just four years ago by Jeff Stum and his wife. The company is now run by Howell.
"Rooibee Tea is actually red tea," says Howell. "We are the only full line USDA organic bottled red tea in the United States."
The main ingredient comes from a bush found only in the mountains of South Africa, but the rest of its roots are in Louisville.
"We are a Kentucky proud product," Howell says, "so we do our bottling, packing, our brewing, everything is done right here in our Kentucky proud state."
The company started out selling its tea at local farmer's markets and then moved on to specialty health food stores. It has come a long way in a short time, sold now in all 50 states.
The small company with just nine full-time employees has reached a milestone recently as its products are now sold in all Kroger stores in the giant grocery chain's Midwest division.
Howell says, "It has taken three or four years to get on the shelves of Kroger and it is a huge deal for us." She says Rooibee Red Tea is meeting consumers' demands for more healthy products. "We've got a lot of obesity in this country, right now we have a lot of diabetics, so nothing makes us prouder than to introduce an individual to a more healthy drink," she says.
Shoppers at a local Kroger store seem to agree. " I like it as a healthy alternative to soda and other sugary drinks," says Cynthia Gonzales.
Howell's next goal is to get her product into all Kroger stores across the country, so the sky is the limit.
"Honestly, I just want to be the Brown-Forman of tea," she says.
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