I’ve been an avid Apple Cider Vinegar fan for a long time. After reading about potential health benefits, I was determined to incorporate it into my daily routine. Because I was so devoted, I was willing to do the extra work to make the vinegar taste good. And it did take work: I’d mix the vinegar with water, tea, or sweeteners like honey to balance the acidic taste.
Then, Nestlé started asking employees if we had our own ideas for new products. I jumped at the chance to make a ready-to-drink Apple Cider Vinegar Tea. My colleagues liked the concept, and before I knew it I’d been voted one of the leading ideas, and I was pitching it to our executive team. I’d been doing the work in my own kitchen, and I believed there must be other people out there who’d want something already prepped and ready to drink. The leadership team agreed, and my product got the green-light.
What I didn’t know was where the idea would take me, the many iterations my teas would go through, and the experts I’d get to work with along the way. I work in sales reporting, so I see a lot of consumer trends and know how to use data to find out what consumers want. I’d never worked on the creation of a new product from idea to shelf. This would be a first.
Seeing my product come to life was exciting, nerve-wracking, and a lot of hard work — here’s a small glimpse at how we did it.
Working with Chef Anna
To kick off the creation of my idea, our product development team paired me with one of Nestlé’s expert chefs, Anna Kim. When I met Chef Anna, she immediately told me that she was also a huge fan of apple cider vinegar. We were a perfect pair to make these teas a reality.
It was important to me that we developed the product across three different types of tea — black, green, and herbal. I wanted you to be able to enjoy the vinegar teas your way. Anna has so much experience when it comes to flavor: she developed 9 flavor ideas for me to work with as prototype flavors. I tasted each of her ideas, and we narrowed things down to the 3flavors we liked the most.
Something Anna and I kept in mind during this time was creating flavors that were enjoyable and approachable. Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar is already a daunting idea for some people, so these flavors needed to enhance and ease the experience.
Getting to Know Flavors
Since the product we were working with primarily was Apple Cider Vinegar, we thought consumers might want apple as the lead flavor in one of our final teas. We tested apple with orange and cinnamon, which tasted great when prepared in the kitchen, but never quite worked when translating the flavors to something that could be produced at a manufacturer.
The herbal tea was a particular challenge to balance. We’d decided on a hibiscus tea as our herbal option of choice. Hibiscus is extremely popular in cafes, and we loved the bright pink hue of the drink. However, hibiscus is naturally a little bitter. Pairing that with the already acidic taste of vinegar, we found that we needed flavors that cut the acidity and brought in sweetness, so we used raspberry and sage as the lead to make sure the tea was sweet and delicious.
Learning about flavors was a long, fascinating process. Not everything worked when we tried it. But it took those false starts to bring us to a place where we’re thrilled with the end result.
Making the Right Decisions
There were quite a few decisions to make in the process of creating our teas. First, choosing to work with the Chameleon Cold-Brew brand to bring the teas to life was something I felt clear about. Chameleon Cold-Brew has always been dedicated to delivering great-tasting, organic coffee through their commitment to craft coffee methods and by sourcing only high-quality ingredients– it was all exactly what I was looking for.
To stay true to Chameleon’s organic principles and dedication to smooth taste throughout the cold-brew process, I also decided I wanted all my ingredients to be organic and that our tea should be cold-brewed. These are the kinds of decisions I make when I’m purchasing a product, so I wanted those options there for the consumer, too.
Putting Tea to the Taste Test
One of the most nerve-wracking moments of creating the teas was putting them through a blind taste-test. We tested the teas with our colleagues right here at Nestlé, because we’re all consumers ourselves. (Hardly a week goes by that we’re not diving in to new edible cookie dough or cauliflower crust pizza). What we didn’t tell our taste-testers was that some of the flavors they were tasting were competitor products, not our own newly developed product. I was nervous that after all that work, our product might not stack up.
That’s not what happened. The blind taste test saw our new teas rise to the top — we were the taste that drinkers preferred across the board. That validation is how we knew that all our efforts had been worth it.
As this new product comes to life on grocery store shelves, I’m excited to see something that started as a personal project in my home kitchen turn into a larger reality. If you do pick up a Chameleon Cold-Brew Tea from the grocery store shelf, I hope it will come through that great care has gone into bringing you the best product, with the best flavor. It all started with the people who love this product the most.
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