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Teeccino Blog

The Herbal Tea That Tastes Like Coffee


Written by: Caroline MacDougall

Herbal tea? I know, we’ve been calling Teeccino “herbal coffee” for nearly twenty years. But no matter how many times we say, “There’s no milk in soy milk, no butter in peanut butter, and no coffee in herbal coffee!”, people are still confused. It’s just been so hard for people to understand how Teeccino could taste so much like coffee but have no coffee in it.

photoshop hazelnutTeeccino Tee-bags get referred to as tea all the time. Well let’s face it, you can hear ‘tea’ in our name so people think Teeccino must be tea especially when it’s in a tea bag. (FYI: there’s no “tea” in herbal tea either!)

After much brainstorming, we’ve decided to reposition Teeccino’s Tee-bags as “herbal tea” instead of “herbal coffee”. But how to distinguish our herbal tea from everyone else’s? How to convey that our herbal tea tastes like coffee?

That’s when it came to me. Every hot beverage brand is identified with an ingredient. Start with coffee and tea themselves. Then look at brands that have been built around yerba mate, rooibos, tulsi, and so on. But we’ve never chosen one of Teeccino’s ingredients to feature over any of the others because we have so many wonderful healthy herbs that contribute to its robust body. Teeccino’s coffee-like flavor depends on several ingredients that are popular coffee alternatives in their respective cultures. So, let me tell you about the one we chose and why we think it could be the launching point for many more people discovering Teeccino!

French coffee and chicory:

Ever heard of “French Coffee”? That would be coffee blended with roasted chicory root. If you’re in the South, especially Louisiana where French Coffee is so popular, a cup tee-bag cutout
would have about 30% chicory in it. People who love French coffee drink it for the smooth flavor that chicory adds while it lowers the acidity of coffee too. The French also knew that chicory helps digestion although only recently has the reason why been discovered which I’ll tell you more about in a minute.

So yes, we’ve chosen to reposition Teeccino Tee-bags as, “Chicory Herbal Tea”, because we think it will help people recognize that Teeccino tastes like coffee. Chicory is in every flavor of Teeccino and no other brand of herbal tea can claim that they have a tea that tastes like coffee even though they may have a bit of chicory in their tea blends. Here’s why!

Teeccino’s ‘plump’ Tee-bags:

Only Teeccino Tee-bags have 6 grams of ingredients to produce the body of coffee. You can’t get coffee-like flavor with itty bitty tea bags that only hold 1-2 grams. We had to buy a special tea bag machine that makes that nice big bag to hold enough Teeccino so that when you steep it, you get full, robust body. That’s why it took us so long to produce Tee-bags. We couldn’t find a machine capable of making the size bag we needed until one was finally invented. Do you realize that when you buy a box of Teeccino Tee-bags you’re getting two to three times the herbal tea that is in other brand’s boxes?

Now let’s go back to chicory so I can tell you more about why we chose it out of all our ingredients.

Chicory’s prebiotic: inulin

Inulin Content_Common Foods Chart1Chicory root is full of inulin. If you’ve followed my newsletters for awhile, you’ve heard me talk about how important it is to get enough inulin in our diet. Inulin is a soluble fiber that occurs in thousands of plants including bananas, wheat and garlic, but only in small quantities. Chicory has the highest amount of inulin of any plant. Our ancestors used to eat 15 grams of inulin each day, but we only average 2 grams. Unless we drink Teeccino. A couple of cups of Teeccino can double the amount of inulin you consume daily.

Let me digress for a moment to tell you why you want to have more inulin in your diet. Inulin is consumed by the beneficial gut flora that are called “probiotics”, which is why inulin is called a “prebiotic”. It’s necessary to establish a healthy colony of good bacteria in your colon and science is now revealing how much good health depends on our gut flora. In fact, the strength of our immune system is dependent on these microflora that live in our colon!

Inulin also increases the absorption of minerals like calcium and iron, and it helps stabilize your blood sugar. It even helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. There’s new science showing that inulin can aid weight loss by supporting the right type of gut flora in the colon. I promise you, new discoveries about the importance of inulin will continue well into the future as science learns more about the billions of beneficial bacteria that live in our intestines and without which we can’t thrive!

Chicory is showing up in all kinds of foods

Chicory root largeYou may not realize it but the red leaves with white veins in your salad are chicory. Radicchio and endive are both types of chicory salad leaves. If you read food labels, I bet you’ve notice the addition of “chicory flour” and inulin to many foods these days including bread, ice cream, energy bars, cereals, and beverages because chicory ingredients contribute many properties that improve mouth feel, texture and stability.

Teeccino’s blend of roasted ingredients:

Teeccino wouldn’t be what it is without the blend of other roasted ingredients that deliver the wonderful synergy of flavor that we all love. Did you know that “orzo” or barley is Italy’s favorite caffeine-free roasted brew? Have you heard me describe how the Maya roasted ramón seeds and drank them as a coffee-like beverage long before the Spaniards brought coffee to the Americas? Ramón seeds bring depth of dark roasted flavor to Teeccino’s French Roast, Chocolaté, and Dandelion Dark Roast.

Speaking of dandelion root, it too has long been roasted and enjoyed as a coffee-like beverage. When I went to create certified gluten-free flavors for Teeccino, I added roasted dandelion root to replace barley. Dandelion root is famed for its liver detoxification properties and its bitterness adds a new dimension to Teeccino that is getting rave revues.

We all love chocolate and Teeccino gets its chocolaty flavor notes from roasted Spanish carob pods that have a touch of sweetness too. Carob adds the creamy quality to Teeccino that I love to accent with other creamy flavors like vanilla and caramel.

How fans describe Teeccino’s flavor

Here are the common words we hear from Teeccino fans when they compare it to coffee: smoother, richer and creamier. Now it is true that the synergy of all of Teeccino’s ingredients produce those characteristics. But chicory was the clear winner if we had to zero in on only one. Chicory is the best known coffee alternative of them all. It has the most science behind its health benefits. People recognize it as a common ingredient in foods and beverages. That enables everyone to feel like Teeccino is something familiar rather than unknown.

What do you think?

Tell us quick, do you like this change of identity or not? Teeccino Chicory Herbal Tea will be gracing our Tee-bag boxes soon, but let me reassure you of one thing. Teeccino 11 oz bags with the all-purpose grind are staying “Herbal Coffee”. We’re separating “herbal tea” from “herbal coffee” since you brew one like tea and the other like coffee. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

We plan to add “Chicory” to “Herbal Coffee” on the 11oz bags but we’ve decided to use a single quotation mark around ‘coffee’ as in Chicory Herbal ‘Coffee’. We’re hoping that will help people understand once and for all: THERE’S NO COFFEE IN HERBAL COFFEE…and none in herbal tea either! Ok, I need to hear from all of you, our devoted Teeccino fans – will this change make it easier to describe Teeccino when you tell your friends and family about this drink you love?

Posted in Caroline's Musings

22 Responses

  1. DeAnna says:

    this seems more confusing, especially if the same flavor is described as a tea in the tea bags, but as a coffee in the bag of grind. I simply tell my friends and family that it is a great coffee alternative. I don’t say “herbal coffee” or “herbal tea.” That way, no one is confused as to what it is- a great coffee alternative or great alternative to coffee. It just seems that this new move is making it harder than it already is. Just my opinion.
    I will keep drinking and sharing it no matter what you call it! :O)

  2. Kari says:

    Dandilion root can have great health properties, but isn’t it true that is can also have negetive affects on certain health conditions and immune compromised people, as well as reactions with certain medicines? Also, isn’t it advised not to be given to children?

    • Caroline MacDougall says:

      Your concerns aren’t valid for the roasted dandelion root used in the quantities that we have them in Teeccino. There is so much misinformation about herbs on the internet and most of what you read about conflicts with medicines is only theory but has never been tested. Teeccino Dandelion flavors are safe for both immunce compromised people and children. In fact, the inulin in all of Teeccino’s flavors including the Dandelion flavors helps strengthen the immune system by supporting a health population of beneficial gut flora!

  3. Grace Wilson says:

    I like the idea “chicory herbal tea.” I also respond positively to “roasted chicory tea”, “roasted chicory infusion”, “chicory herbal infusion”. All great ideas! The word tea makes me think of something much more watery than Teeccino though. That’s my only hesitation.

  4. Valerie says:

    Sounds good to me. I don’t know why people are so confused about it. Maybe they don’t have time to read the labels. Personally I thought of it as “loose leaf” tea, but treated it like coffee; one coffee scoop equals one cup of yumminess.

    Thanks for an alternative to coffee. I had to cut way back on coffee because if burns my tummy. I haven’t noticed that with your product. Thanks again!

    • Caroline MacDougall says:

      So glad you discovered that you can drink Teeccino without getting problems with acidity. We get many responses from people who say they have GERD but drink Teeccino without any problem. Teeccino is actually alkaline due to its potassium, an alkaline mineral the body uses to correct metabolic acidity.

  5. Elaine says:

    Hi Caroline!

    I’m brainstorming here, so please forgive me if I seem to ramble. I’m hoping to not only give my opinions, but also generate some helpful ideas.

    Personally, I don’t agree with calling Teeccino a ‘tea’. People drink it to fill a need that coffee once filled (or sometimes fills) for them – and others need to discover this. Calling it ‘tea’ for someone who wants something to fill the need for coffee, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of the product. Tea of any sort is a very different animal than coffee. One generally doesn’t want to settle for anything that is even called ‘tea’ if their craving is for coffee. If I really wanted coffee, for example, and the only hot beverage available was tea of any sort, my subconscious thought would probably be something like, “Ewww” – eventhough I do like tea & herbal tea when I’m in the right mood for it. If you want to find a better term than herbal coffee when you’re talking about the ‘tee-bags’, why not substitute the word ‘brew’? After all, coffee is brewed. Tea is brewed. And Teeccino is brewed – in any number of ways – including if the Teeccino is in a bag similar to a tea bag – ‘brew bag’? How about ‘infusion packs/packets’ – or even Teeccino to go / Herbal ‘Coffee’ to go & skip the reference to the bag it’s brewed in in the title?

    The adjective ‘rich’ when talking about Teeccino I think is particulary good, because the term ‘rich’ is identified with good coffee. How about this for the package: “The perfect pick-me-up! Each Teeccino herbal ‘coffee’ infusion pack brews one satisfying rich mug of your favourite brew!”

    Also, although chicory is healthy, saying Teeccino is “Chicory herbal ‘coffee'”, in my opinion limits the imagination in terms of what it might taste like (after all, chicory is a green plant reminiscent of a vegetable – imagine this: bok choy coffee). It could even be a turn-off to those who have tried chicory-based coffee ‘substitutes’ & found them lacking. If chicory makes Teeccino taste & feel richer, why not add a blurb on the packaging, “even richer-tasting”?

    Teeccino tee-bags aren’t available where I live, and only limited flavours of the ground Teeccino bags are on offer. It would be fabulous to see Teeccino on a different shelf than just barely off the floor, or scraping the ceiling – out of reach for many. It is necessary to elevate Teeccino’s status – especially here where almost nobody has even heard of it – even people who regularly go to the stores that carry it (including people who work there!).

    This may seem incredulous, but there are absurd amounts of people who don’t even know that herbal tea contains no tea. When I ask what a cafe or restaurant has for herbal teas, I am typically offered “Earl Grey, Chamomile or Peppermint”. Many people, consequently don’t clue in that herbal coffee contains no coffee, and actually tell me that they don’t drink coffee when I’ve offered them herbal coffee. Maybe I should offer them “Not-Coffee”!?! Or show them my tea cupboard containing upwards of 30 varieties – most of which contain no tea at all! (Uh-oh! Now I’m ranting).

    Any plans to put Teeccino in K-cups? K-cup brewers are VERY popular here, and a great way to get a single cup – although a finer grind would work better. I often make myself a cup using refillable generic K-cups, and many workplaces have K-cup brewers for their staff & clients/customers/visitors to use. Again, it would be another way to make people think of coffee when brewing/drinking Teeccino herbal ‘coffee’.

    One more thought: Many people I encounter (military, etc.) specifically drink waaaay too much coffee for the caffeine ‘wake-up factor’. Perhaps something like ‘energy boosting’ (or similar term) could be put beside caffeine-free so people don’t internally say ‘forget it’ when they see caffeine-free.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Elaine
    (a big Canadian Teeccino fan – to say the least!)

    • Caroline MacDougall says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and don’t worry – I love reading them all! The Tee-bags are being launched in Canada so if your local store doesn’t have them yet, ask them to order them from the same distributor who sells them the filter grind bags. I’ve clung to the term “herbal coffee” for 20 years now and all I can say is, so many tea drinkers say they won’t drink anything that tastes like coffee. Then they taste Teeccino and love it! So what to do? Tea drinkers are in many ways more open to Teeccino than coffee drinkers who are addicted to the caffeine rush. I think if the Tee-bags are pitched to tea drinkers, they will respond to it better but I plan on continuing to position the filter grind bags to coffee drinkers and still call them herbal coffee. I’m hoping the Tee-bags will get put in a better location in the tea section. Believe me, I’m tired of Teeccino always being a second class citizen or unloved stepchild in the coffee set too!

      We do plan on launching Teeccino K-cups in the not too distant future so stay tuned to my newsletter and you’ll hear about them first! I do really appreciate all your thoughts and of course your love for Teeccino!

  6. Pat Hank says:

    I still like the old way of coffee, but that’s just me.

  7. john thomas says:

    From a branding point of view, it should bother you a little that chicory is not the number one listed ingredient on the product description. Carob first, then barley, and #3 chicory…..Can you adjust the formula to move chicory to number one and still get a great product?

    I would also bump up the packaging graphics relative to brew and roast. Not sure how I would do that, You would have to experiment.

    Overall, you make a great product. I always loved my coffee, but simply cannot drink it anymore. I currently mix soy milk and honey with my maya chocolate blend and create a better drink than I used to buy at starbuckys for $5…..without the caffeine and acidic aftermath.

    • Caroline MacDougall says:

      Actually, I don’t think it’s a problem that chicory is our #3 ingredient but I certainly can’t change Teeccino’s flavor profile which would make our customers unhappy to like it to taste just the way it is. Carob, barley and chicory are all main ingredients in Teeccino with no one ingredient being dominant. Several people have suggested that we emphasize roast and body more on the front panel and I’m going to take that suggestion to our design team to figure out how! So glad Teeccino solved your problems with coffee!

  8. Mary Ellen says:

    I disagree with calling Teeccino a tea for the same reasons as mentioned above. A tea does not come close to describing Teeccino’s flavors and, as one reviewer noted, it is much more watery than Teeccino. I also have GERD and am so thankful I found Teeccino after being told caffeine was off limits for me. I started calling it my “brew” when friends and family wanted to know exactly what it was that I was raving and have also called it a coffee substitute.

    Whatever you decide to call it just know that I am a fan for life!

  9. Mary Ann says:

    I believe the problem is not “herbal coffee” vs. “herbal tea”… the problem is the name Teecino. It makes no sense and conveys a tea flavor, not a coffee flavor. I would consider rebranding the coffee in the bags to something that better conveys the “herbal coffee” experience.

    Please offer more flavors in stores. Your shipping costs are high so I won’t order online.

    • Caroline MacDougall says:

      If I was to name Teeccino today, I’d probably think of a different name because you’re right, it can be confusing because it sounds like tea. However, “Teeccino” came to me in a dream 20 years ago and now we have way to much brand equity to built into the brand “Teeccino” to change the name!

      Watch for our free shipping weekends which we offer every couple of months. You’ll get an eblast when the offer is available. Stores can order more flavors of Teeccino from their distributor who carries all of our flavors. Having our customers ask a store to carry more flavors is much more influential than us telling them to stock more Teeccino. Please put a note in their suggestion box or talk to a grocery buyer to request the flavors you love!

  10. Heather says:

    Hi Caroline,

    I agree with DeAnna – calling them different things when they are just different packages for the same product is confusing. If I were a new customer trying to choose one to try – the tea bags or the loose grind – and I was studying labels and couldn’t figure out how they were different from each other, I would honestly probably just give up in frustration and not buy anything at all. And calling the tea bags tea when they really taste like coffee could throw new customers for a loop as well – if they want a tea and it’s called tea, but then it tastes like coffee, I think they might be really disappointed. “Coffee alternative” is the most straightforward description or if you want to be more detailed, “caffeine-free herbal coffee alternative.”

    Elaine’s comments also all strike a chord with me – I drink Teeccino when I want coffee but I don’t need the acid and/or caffeine. I still drink regular tea sometimes (mostly black tea or flavored black teas), but as much as I always think I want herbal tea, I just don’t like it that much. I used to drink way too much coffee just because it was the only hot beverage with a full enough body (I can’t stand the flavor or mouthfeel of decaf).

    That said, I’ve also noticed people don’t “get” the idea of herbal coffee. Usually when I tell people it’s not coffee, but it tastes like it, I have to repeat the information a couple different ways and a couple different times. I can understand how from your company’s perspective that’s not a good thing, but it’s a result of Teeccino being such a unique product. But I don’t know that adding “chicory” to the title will help – I don’t think most people know what that is. And if you’re trying to appeal to people based on the flavor profile, if it’s something most people haven’t heard of, I think they’re going to assume it’s not really all that much like coffee.

    My mom has one of the K-cup machines, and in the end the way I convinced her to try Teeccino was by brewing some in the Keurig (in one of those reusable gold cups) to make her a latte. She really likes lattes, but she can’t drink them in the evening because the caffeine keeps her up. She was really surprised how similar the taste was.

    Best wishes,

    Heather

  11. Joe Pavlich says:

    I just wanted to update you, I have sent two letters telling you of the benefits of Teeccino and they are amazing, I continued to lose weight on Teeccino and I am currently off blood pressure pills which I took for more than twenty years. I started off weighing over 308 lbs. and now I weigh 185. I have stated it before and I will again you saved my life and I thank you for that. I was on the caffeine and sugar roller coaster for years and could not get off, I used caffeine and chocolate to get me thru 16 hour days and it took a toll on me. I used Teeccino and regular exercise to turn my health around and because of that I will be around for my grandson Oliver and my granddaughter Laurelei I can’t thank you enough for that gift.

  12. Debra says:

    I discovered your wonderful product about 6 months ago as I was ordering my vitamins on line. The site offered free trials. I now order it regularly and have been drinking it ever since. I was an avid coffee drinker and 39 years ago I had to stop as the caffeine affected my heart. I tried Postum but that was too acidic. There was no alternative that I knew about. I like tea but that didn’t do it for me. When I tried Teeccino, I think I called everyone I knew and they heard the excitement in my voice. I put my creamer in with the Teeccino and felt that I was truly drinking coffee for the first time in 39 years. Now, it’s summer and I can make myself an Ice coffee,one of my favorite drinks. I have told a few of my friends who were having difficulties with coffee, and they, too, are now so grateful to have found an alternative. I read all the comments by the people and I do agree completely that to call it a Tea is monumentally confusing. Teecccino = the herbal alternative coffee brew with no caffeine would be self explanatory. As you said, you can’t change the name because it is too branded. People who just hear the name without seeing how it is spelled get a misconception. So to counterbalance that, putting the words herbal or alternative coffee brew would clarify the product. I would also like to see the regular supermarkets carry Teeccino as that would make it so much more convenient. Maybe you could show some of them these comments so that they would agree to stock it. Thank you for giving me back my winter coffee and summer “ice lattes” “Hooked on HC (herbal coffee)”

  13. Jo says:

    I’ve recently started drinking Teechino after looking around for just a change of pace from my usual rounds of coffee, tea, cocoa, etc. I have tried a couple different varieties and am really impressed by how good it is. Over the holidays, I will be bringing samples to many friends and family members who can’t have caffeine as well as those who do drink coffee.

    About the marketing and how to communicate this characteristics of this production though: I very much agree with comments above that it should have its own name and not be linked to either coffee or tea. Coffee-substitute makes it sound second best, but it is far too tasty for that, and it just isn’t tea. Brew is good, or even just beverage. The word ‘roast’ prominent in the packaging will help tip it away from a tea impression. Teeccino Roasted Brew?? The Herbal Brew Coffee Alternative? That could work. And if not too ridiculous, change the shape of the ‘tea bags’ to circles and call them ‘brew bags’. I could see this starting to fly: ‘Coffee, tea, or brew?’

    Speaking of brewing, how are the k-cups plans going? I haven’t seen them yet, and would be eager to try them.

  14. Patricia says:

    I am 60 years old and have been a hard core coffee drinker since I was 17. When my doctor ordered me off caffeine I seriously cried! He told me about Teeccino and I bucked. Nothing can replace my beloved coffee! After a few weeks of having a total morning meltdown I decided to give it a try. At first I wasnt all that impressed, I was still too stubborn. But as time went by and I adjusted the amounts (and my attitude) I have grown to love it…….yes I said LOVE! I once again look forward to my morning ritual and cant thank you enough for this wonderful product. My husband is even more stubborn than me when it comes to his coffee, so I’m going to add it a little at a time to his grounds (without him knowing of course) so that he can start developing a taste for it without even knowing it! Wish me luck!!

  15. A prospective customer says:

    Do you happen to have a distributor in Thailand? I have tried to find your products here but without success so far.

    • Caroline MacDougall says:

      We don’t have a distributor in Thailand but you can send your order to info@teeccino.com and we can fulfill it using USPS to ship it to Thailand. WE can send you the quote for the freight before you have to decide if you want to order it. Also, you might check iherb.com as they have good shipping rates overseas.

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