Space Tea launched in 2021 with its Original Arnold Palmer-style tea, a black tea and lemonade beverage, and later that year, it released a Mango (white tea and mango lemonade) and Watermelon (white tea and watermelon lemonade) flavor, Co-founder Gabriel Heymann told FoodNavigator-USA said. More recently, in 2023, the brand launched its zero-sugar line that includes lemon, hibiscus, and matcha flavors, he added.
Each Space Tea beverage is brewed with non-psychoactive, adaptogenic Reishi and Lion's Mane mushrooms, “for uplifting energy, calm focus, mood-boosting, and mental clarity,” Heymann said.
“Number one, we wanted to have a beverage that had those functional beverage benefits that people feel — uplifting energy, calm focus, mood, boosting mental clarity — and when they drink our product, they feel that, and number two, [we have] just an amazing-tasting iced tea.”
Functional mushroom category set for expansion
While “functional mushrooms are growing at a very fast pace,” Space Tea is trying to build its brand authentically, creating a wellness community in the process and tapping into a passion for music and space, Heymman said. In fact, the global medicinal mushroom market is forecasted to reach $5.9bn by 2027, growing by a 9.96% CAGR between 2022-2027, largely drive by the health benefits of mushrooms, according to a ReportLinker report.
To those functional benefits, research has shown that beta 1,3/1,6 glucans, which are polysaccharides found in medicinal mushrooms, have a range of health benefits from anti-inflammatory properties, blood glucose control, boosting heart health, and more, though more clinical human trials need to be conducted. Specific to Space Tea, Lion's Mane "has been shown to be effective with nerve growth factory synthesis, while there's evidence of Reishi helping with stress," said Nirmal Nair, founder and CEO of Sempera Organics.
Blending wellness, music, space and mushrooms
Having come to the beverage industry from the music and entertainment industry nearly 10 years ago, Heymman worked on several beverage brands, including Upstart Kombucha and CBD tea brand Sky & Wyatt, and also did consulting work for several other brands. During the pandemic, Heymman and his partners, who also had backgrounds in the music industry, got to brewing and testing tea flavors out of curiosity, Heymann said. After testing several formulations, they realized that they might have something and sent a sample to Erewhon Market, and that was the start of its brand, he added.
Given their background, “music and entertainment is a part of who we are so naturally, … it's a big part of the brand,” Heymman said. One way they use their passion for music is exhibiting Space Tea at music events.
The founders of Space Tea also wanted to use the nostalgia and aesthetic of space exploration, which is both futuristic and retro, Heymann pointed out. Not only was there an explosion of space photos in the 1960s and '70s, but “space is also the future,” he added. This passion for space is reflected in the brand's packaging and cans, which features space imagery.
"Everyone grows up loving space, and then that never really goes away,” Heymann said. “We're all intrigued by its endless possibilities ... and on top of that too, space is timeless."
Expo West bound
On the business side, Space Tea is ensuring that it’s taking “a measured approach upfront” to growth, and it has “focused from the inside out,” Heymman said. Space Tea first focused on releasing its product within California, and LA specifically, and then worked to expand nationally with Sprouts. And at Expo West, the brand is looking to get the word out by demoing the product and hearing what attendees have to say.
"We're beyond thrilled to be exhibiting at Natural Products Expo West this year. We believe in the power of natural products to enhance health and well-being. Our iced teas are a convenient and delicious way to experience the benefits of adaptogens, and we can't wait to share our products with attendees and hear their feedback.”