Honest Tea’s Mission To Sell Less-Sugary Beverages Includes Philanthropy

Corporate Goals Tied Directly to Sweet Tzedakah

Reduce, Reuse: Honest Tea ‘TeaEO’ Seth Goldman (third from right) celebrates the company’s recycling campaign in Manhattan’s Times Square.
getty images
Reduce, Reuse: Honest Tea ‘TeaEO’ Seth Goldman (third from right) celebrates the company’s recycling campaign in Manhattan’s Times Square.

By Curt Schleier

Published November 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

It all started with a jog.

On a business trip to New York in 1997, Seth Goldman went for a run in Central Park.

Afterwards, he couldn’t find a drink to quench his thirst. Everything on store shelves was either too sweet or loaded with artificial ingredients.

Click for the Giving Special Section! Click for more Giving stories

So it got him to thinking about an MBA class he’d taken at Yale University three years earlier, where the subject of creating a less sweet beverage business had come up. Goldman contacted his old professor, Barry Nalebuff, and asked if anything ever came of that.

The short answer was “no,” so the pair decided to try to create a tea that had sugar levels that fell somewhere between no sugar and the very sugary industry standard.

The result: Honest Tea. They shared their experiences — warts and all — in their new book, “Mission in a Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently — and Succeeding.”

Their concept, outlined in the company’s mission statement, went beyond using less sugar in their products. The pair wanted to sell a natural tea, and do it in socially responsible way, by using fair trade ingredients, operating in an ecologically sustainable manner, and supporting a variety of charities.

A common plea to donors in charity circles is to give until it hurts, Nalebuff, 55, said. “My father had a line I am particularly fond of. He said you should give until it feels good, which is apparently after it hurts.”

He added: “We support everything from Race for the Cure to the Susan Komen Foundation. We’re building computer centers in India for the children of tea pluckers.”

For Goldman and Nalebuff — and therefore for Honest Tea — philanthropy means more than just giving away money or free bottles of tea, which they often do at charity events.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.