Tamarac resident Chris Rosario wants to make iced tea cool again.
Not that iced tea isn't cool enough already. It's just that this isn't your average iced tea. Instead, Rosario is calling his Broward-based Peko Tea House South Florida's first bottled cold-brewed tea.
In 2011, Rosario founded the Raw Juice Company with his mother, Rossy Rosario, and two friends, Ramon Suarez and Marcia Darboude. Their goal was to offer a complete line of bottled cold-pressed juices they created to be more "drinkable" than local competitors.
"So many juice companies were opening but didn't adhere to our standards," Chris Rosario says. "They had to be both drinkable and healthy, and we found most of them were either too sugary and not really good for you, or full of green vegetables but tasted awful. So we created the Raw Juice Company to counteract that problem."
Several months ago, Rosario and his partners decided to expand the business to include a new product that was equally refreshing while also offering a similar antioxidant boost as their cold-pressed juices.
"We decided to approach the same problem — creating a drinkable, high-quality product — but this time with tea instead of juice," he says. "There aren't too many premium tea companies in South Florida, and the national ones didn't meet our quality standards either. Right now, everyone is into cold-brewed coffee, so we decided to flip the script, keep it old-school, and bring back tea with a modern twist."
The company will officially launch its full product line this weekend during the 2017 kickoff of the Miami Flea when it presents six (two unsweetened and four lightly sweetened) of its signature cold-brewed iced-tea blends.
Each cold-brewed tea begins with 100 percent organic loose-leaf teas — a variety of red, black, green, and white — steeped anywhere for 24 to 46 hours in cold water (similar to the process used to make cold-brewed coffee). The brand's unique brewing and steeping process creates a product with intense flavor and a smoother mouthfeel that hot-brewed tea. The final product is infused with fruits and herbs for unique flavor combinations, and several are sweetened with organic cane sugar.
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"The cold-brewed tea also offers more antioxidants and less caffeine," Rosario explains. "Since it's been extracting for a long period of time in cold water versus four minutes in scalding-hot water, you're going to get a lot more flavor and health benefits."
Soon core flavors will be available for purchase for $4 each on the company website. They include Marigold Mango (Ceylon tea flavored with marigold petals and mango); Jade Blossom (fermented green tea with jasmine flowers); Jasper Chai (Chai tea with notes of ginger, cinnamon, and clove); Scarlet Coconut (African red rooibos tea with coconut and açaí); and Orange Cinnamon Solstice (Ceylon with orange peel, clove, and cinnamon).
Rosario says his overall goal is to make a positive change in South Florida. "We coined the phrase 'brewing for a change' because it's our mission to make a difference raising money for local charities by donating a portion from every sale at pop-up events we attend like the Miami Flea," he says.
This weekend, find Peko Tea House at a number of pop-up events across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties beginning with the first Miami Flea of 2017 from 1 to 5 p.m. this Sunday, January 15, at 1440 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Peko will serve its full line of cold-brewed teas (and one limited-edition seasonal tea) as one of 100 vendors. Find Peko at the Grub Garden, along with the Salty Donut, Lobsta Guy, Coyo Taco, and My Ceviche.