August 20, 2008

Sweet Leaf Tea Named One of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies

AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in its 10-year history, Sweet Leaf Tea, makers of premium and all-natural ready-to-drink beverages, has been named to the Inc. 5000 Index, Inc. magazine's annual list of the nation's fastest-growing, privately-held companies. Known as well for its irreverent corporate culture as its award-winning products, Sweet Leaf Tea has been ranked # 891 on the 2008 Inc. 5000 list. The company also ranked #19 in the Top 50 Businesses in Austin-Round Rock, Texas, and #22 in the Top Food and Beverage Companies.

The Inc. 5000 Index ranks the nation's leading entrepreneurial firms according to sales growth over a four-year period. Sweet Leaf Tea's revenues have grown 406.2% since 2004. Helping to foster that growth, Sweet Leaf Tea announced in May that it had raised $18 million in growth capital from Catterton Partners, the private equity firm behind Build-A-Bear, PF Chang's China Bistro, and Kettle Foods.

"Being named to the Inc. 5000 -- and making it into the top 1000 -- is a major milestone for Sweet Leaf Tea and we attribute our growing success to the quality and goodness of our product, the passion of our employees and the loyalty and engagement of our customers," said Clayton Christopher, co-founder and CEO of Sweet Leaf Tea. "Our focus on authentic goodness and laid-back fun has helped to differentiate our brand in a very crowded category. Our culture has helped us attract the best team in the industry, which is a significant part of our success"

According to industry reports, ready-to-drink beverages are a $2.8 billion industry with the premium segment growing at an annual rate of 25%. Sales of ready-to-drink teas are expected to top $4.4 billion in 2011.

"There is enormous potential in the ready-to-drink beverage market and, unlike ready-to-drink teas that do well in either the natural or mass grocery channel, we are thriving in both," Christopher notes. "Our focus on simple, accessible, all-natural goodness enables us to capitalize on the movement of 'all-natural' from trend to mainstream buying behavior."

Sweet Leaf Tea was founded in 1998 by Christopher, then 25, when he couldn't find a bottle of iced tea that tasted like the delicious, homemade tea his grandmother used to make for him when he was growing up in Beaumont, Texas. Shortly thereafter, Christopher's childhood friend, David Smith, joined the company and the two began production brewing their homespun tea in 50-gallon crawfish pots, using pillow cases as tea bags. Made from all-natural ingredients, including purified water, pure cane sugar and high-quality organic tea leaves, Sweet Leaf Tea is made and brewed based on Clayton's grandmother's recipe and technique.

Today, the company sells 11 classic iced-tea flavors as well as three lemonades, including a series of limited-edition lemonades sold in the summer months in environmentally-friendly, reusable Mason jars. Retailers who carry Sweet Leaf Tea products include Kroger, Safeway and specialty food stores, such as Whole Foods, nationwide. Retail prices range from $1.00 to $3.99.

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Sweet Leaf Tea

CONTACT: Diana Torres of Maletzky Media, +1-212-829-0150, ext. 3,[email protected], for Sweet Leaf Tea

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