Tuesday, September 27 , 2016, 7:38 am | Fair 62º

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Business

Santa Barbara Man Finds His Cup of (Iced) Tea with New Product Line

Michael Arnold puts two years into taste-testing organic beverages for his newly launched Boston Iced Tea Co.

A Santa Barbara man is in the process of launching a new line of organic iced tea, which he plans to distribute to food chains, hospitals, military bases and schools across America.

“We are very pleased with the final product, and believe most consumers will be, too,” said Michael Arnold, CEO of Boston Iced Tea Co.

More than two years have gone into the development of Boston Iced Tea, Arnold said, and he’s in negotiations for early purchase orders for select supermarkets, hospitals, and military base exchange and commissaries in California and Boston.

Arnold has dedicated the past month to give the organic beverage the exact right taste.

“I’ve been sitting around for four weeks just drinking tea,” he said with a laugh. “I can’t sleep at night because I’ve had like 40 cups of tea, and then I wonder why I can’t sleep until 2 in the morning.”

The Boston native said he’s done everything from building custom homes to flying live lobsters from the East Coast to the West Coast, selling them to top restaurants in Los Angeles.

His original trade is finish carpentry; one of many fields hampered from the economy.

Two years ago, unable to secure consistent construction work, Arnold decided to create something from scratch.

He began watching hundreds of customers at Starbucks and 7-Eleven stores to find out what was making money at those popular locations.

“I realized that people, no matter what, are not going to give up their habit,” he said. “And their habit is, every morning they go get an iced tea or a coffee … and spend an average of $5 to $7.”

He did his research and found that the most popular drink in America after water is iced tea.

There are currently 12 iced tea distributors in the United States, he said, and Arnold wanted to create the healthiest iced tea, starting with making it organic.

“What I want is,” he said, then paused. “On a really hot day, you grab (a Boston Iced Tea), and it’s ice cold and refreshing. When you’re done you get that pungent snap to your mouth, where it’s crisp and clean. That’s what we’re trying to get.”

He’s also adding mushroom extract to Boston Iced Tea. Mushroom extract is a frequently used product in military food to increase energy.

One thing missing will be the artificial sweeteners, found in energy drinks and sodas. Boston Iced Tea will be the first on the market to fully deliver on the promise of a healthy iced tea, Arnold said.

“OK, so this is the black one,” he said and swooped a glass of “African Black” from across the table. “How’s that?”

It had a sweet but bitter aftertaste, and Arnold explained he’s still working on converting the bitterness to another taste profile — pleasing to senses without adding sugar.

“He’s gone through a lot of different tests and resources with organic teas to get that right combination,” said artist Emiliano Campobello, who’s doing the graphic artwork for Boston Iced Tea. “We want to make sure we have the right formulation that we want to stand by.”

When asked if he plans to sell off the company once it gets big, Arnold made it clear he’s become attached to and is proud of the product he’s developed for so long.

“You have no idea how many sleepless nights, hours and meetings it’s taken to get to this point,” Campobello said.

“I want to see it grow and create a happy, healthy, humble company,” Arnold added, referring to its slogan.

Some 320 cases with the finished product were scheduled to be shipped recently to distributors from Ventura to San Diego.

If all goes well, he hopes to sell the Boston Iced Tea to chains such as Whole Foods that share his vision for healthy consumer foods and beverages.

“If you’re going to do the organic thing,” he said, “you’re going to have to do it all the way.”

Noozhawk intern Linda Sturesson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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