Why Real?

Did you ever wonder how a beverage flavored from actual raspberries could be perfectly clear? 


As tea experts, we were over the fake taste (and suspicious ingredients) of beverages made with flavors.  Artificial flavors are well, artificial.  


But what's a natural flavor? What was in them?  Why did they taste so fake? 


What happened to real?  

Natural flavors aren't really natural. 

“Natural Flavor” does not mean an ingredient is derived from itself (eg, orange natural flavor is not necessarily from an orange). It just means that it's made with something that comes from the earth.  Lots of natural flavoring actually comes from animals and bugs.   

  • Raspberry or vanilla flavor is often made from the anal glands of beavers or possums.  

  • Cochineal extract (crushed boiled beetles) makes those strawberry drinks pink. (Starbucks recently had to recall a pink Frappuccino because their consumers weren’t too happy when they found out it was made from a white insect that turned bright pink when it died).

And it’s not just the bugs that are tucked away in that small world “natural”.  Natural flavors are made with just as many chemicals as artificial flavors.  "At the end of the day…natural flavors are highly processed and contain a host of chemical additives. In fact, there could be as many as 100 chemicals in a single natural flavor.” (foodrevolution.org


And you probably guessed it, but your natural flavors are in fact not giving you any of the benefits of the original product.


If you are still with us, keep reading.  And if you want to explore on your own, we’ve put some helpful links below.


We think you'll agree, it's best to go 100% real. 


Our Values & Real Commitment

When we started out, it took us almost a year to find a co-packer that would fresh-brew tea for Owl’s Brew.  We were directed by EVERYONE to Flavor Houses, as an easier way to make our product.  But we stuck to our vision, even though it was very challenging to execute.   


Why were we directed to Flavor Houses?   Because that was the way everyone else did it.  And even though we were a new beverage company, with a tea expert at our helm (ie, we knew how to make and brew our stuff exactly the way we wanted) the industry wanted us to get in line.   They wanted us to have an “easy” and “consistent” product.  


A day doesn’t go by where someone doesn’t suggest that we switch to flavors because they are “easier” and “more consistent” for our products.  Guess what?  We say no. 


The future of food and beverage is whole, real ingredients, and we believe that we all deserve the freedom to celebrate with delicious beverages that are crafted with care and made with 100% real ingredients.  Drink wise - Live well - Celebrate


eal, whole ingredients
mpower our customers to know that they are consuming
nimal-free, vegan beverages, which 
iberate them to be in the moment, which they always deserve

Crazy & True Flavor Facts  

How many ingredients does a simple natural flavor have?  Like — lemon flavor or peach flavor?  


They can be as many as 50-100 ingredients. 


Orange Juice is usually made with natural flavor.


Wait, what!  Why would something as simple as a squeezed orange need flavor. Well…Tropicana doesn’t want to taste like Odwalla (and vice versa).  And sometimes those pesky oranges don’t taste the same when it’s summer, versus when it’s spring.  What does that mean?  For one thing, American orange juice has a lot of ethyl butyrate in it (a chemical isolated from oranges).   They don’t need to list it because a lot of these chemicals are considered “by-products” of oranges, so companies can make a LOT of a chemical that normally only occurs a small amount in…say…the orange rind, and voila, you have chemical breakfast.   Here are our friends over at Food Renegade. 


Butter is made with natural flavor.


There’s a really long explanation here for why (basically, American producers are usually lazy and in order to get that real “butter” flavor, you need to wait for it to ferment a bit, but … oh wait…that take longer and makes butter more expensive. So…most butter (think Land’o’Lakes) has natural flavor added, and that’s also what you’re getting in butter-flavored snacks (like microwave popcorn).  What are these natural flavors?  Here’s a short list:  diacetyl, acetic acid, acetoin, ethyl formate, ethyl acetate, 2-butanone.  Similar to orange juice’s natural flavors, this helps butter taste…you guessed it…more “buttery and consistent.”   Diacetyl, for instance, is naturally found in butter…but extracting it and dosing it at high rates isn’t such a good idea.  For instance, it’s been linked to cancer.  Read more here.  


Allergens are not always listed, even if they are in natural flavors. 


Crazy right?  While the “top 8” must be listed, there are even ways around this (once a big 8 is super-refined, it doesn’t need to be listed).  For instance refined soybean, mustard, sesame, or even seafood may be used in natural flavorings (we agree, we literally we don’t know why…probably because of some chemical thing seafood generates) …but doesn’t need to be listed.  To get specific:  molluscan shellfish—such as oysters, clams, mussels or scallops—do not need to be listed if they are part of a natural flavor, nor does a highly refined soy product (like soybean oil).  Read more here,

Foods that seem like they should be vegan often are not.

  1. Tea - your vegan friend is sipping their raspberry tea.  Guess what?   Raspberry flavor is often made from beaver’s anal glands

  2. You’re feeding your children Jell-O.   Guess what?  Gelatin is made from collagen, which is a protein taken from animals, usually pigs

  3. You’re drinking a hibiscus latte with natural flavors - you’re probably ingesting carmine, which is made from cochineal bugs

  4. Popping some Jelly Beans? The shellac used to make shiny candy coating is usually made from the resinous secretion of female bugs.