The Story Behind Enroot: The Filipina-Founded Sparkling Teas Backed By Brad Pitt
In the world of sparkling beverages and cold brews, a new player stands out for a number of reasons. Enroot Sparkling Cold Brew Tea is steeped in Filipino heritage, crafted in partnership with chefs from the James Beard Foundation, and is backed by actor Brad Pitt.
The collection of teas were meticulously crafted for today’s discerning consumer—they are low in calories and carbohydrates (25 calories, and 5 grams of carbs in each 355 ml bottle); there’s no additional sugar added (the hint of sweetness comes from a touch of fruit juice); and they are vegan, kosher and gluten-free.
Enroot is an homage to co-founder and CEO Cris Patwa’s grandmother and her legacy as a farmer and food entrepreneur in the Philippines. Patwa was born in Davao, where her grandmother Pamela (whom she fondly calls Mame Pame), had a farm. “There were geese, chickens, carabaos, and when we were hungry or thirsty, we were given fresh mango and coconuts pulled directly from the trees,” Patwa reminisces. “My time in the Philippines was the most joyful of my childhood. I got to see the impact my Lola had in giving women and men jobs, feeding the schools, and taking care of our soil health. Enroot has allowed me to bring that positivity back to my adulthood.”
Together with business partner John Fogelman (previously of William Morris Endeavor), whom Patwa met while working in film and television in Los Angeles 14 years ago, they founded Factory Made, an incubator focused on creating minority-led entertainment and lifestyle ventures. One of the brands they worked with was Pitt’s Château Miraval, helping to expand the award-winning rosé portfolio to olive oil. “John has been friends with Brad for over 25 years,” shares Patwa. “It was a natural path for us to share meals together and ideate on doing more in food and beverage.”
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Tea was their drink of choice because “it’s the second most widely consumed beverage worldwide, following only water,” she explains. According to the Tea Association of the USA, 80% of homes have some sort of tea in their house, with almost 160 million Americans drinking tea at least once a day. This, alongside the partners’ fascination with the rapid growth of the global carbonated tea market (currently valued at about $4 billion), propelled them to put these elements together, but not without taking it to another level—and giving back.
“The self-care benefits of teas, herbals and botanicals appealed to us, but we also wanted to lead with great taste and refreshment—and that’s what the James Beard Foundation and our chef family really brought to this. The sparkling combination of teas with fruits and spices helped to achieve the taste experience, while maintaining the health halo around slowly, cold brewed ritual tea for antioxidants, hydration and replenishment.”
The unique and layered flavor profiles of offerings like Mango Turmeric Ginger Guayusa and Strawberry Lavender Rosemary Tulsi were crafted in partnership with 12 chefs from the James Beard Foundation (JBF) Impact program, including JJ Johnson of Field Trip in Harlem and Asha Gomez of The Third Space in Atlanta, who were with them throughout the leaf-to-bottle experience, trying out hundreds of tea varietals, fruits, roots, botanicals and brewing methods.
“We came up with the slow 20-hour cold brew ritual, because it extracts a smooth, refreshing flavor without the bitterness and astringency often associated with other teas. We were able to balance different layers of tea leaves, herbs, fruits and spices with no added sugar, to deliver an experience that aligns with how the chefs prepare their dishes and menus at their restaurants.” On their website, Enroot showcases cocktail and food-pairing recipes specially created by the chefs.
Enroot is also a Sustaining Partner of the JBF Women’s Leadership Programs. “In an industry where over half of those that enter culinary school are women, only 21% of them are chefs in the culinary world (vs. 28% female CEOs running businesses),” shares Patwa. “At top restaurants, women hold only 6.3% of the head chef positions—this is worse than the 8% of female CEOs running Fortune 500 companies and unfortunately, has not received much attention.” Patwa emphasizes, “We can and must do better for our sisters at the table.”
We spoke to Patwa to learn more about her Filipino heritage, its influence on her company, and Brad Pitt’s involvement:
Please tell us about your background. What were you doing before Enroot?
I lived in the Philippines until I was eight years old. In the 80s, our town was experiencing great conflict and civil unrest. At one point, we were held at gunpoint, which led our immediate family to leave for the US. I studied hard here, watching “Three’s Company” and “I Love Lucy” to improve my English (and humor!) My parents were CPAs, so like most immigrant children, you do what you know within your circle. I went to college at Boston University to study accounting and MIS, and become a CPA as well. It gave me a great technical foundation, and I was able to land a job on Wall Street as a consultant in Strategy and Technology for Deloitte.
A few years later, I moved to Los Angeles and went to business school at UCLA. I wanted to start taking on a little more risk creatively in my career. I landed a job at Disney-ABC Television doing business development, where I worked on incredible shows like Shonda Rhimes’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and JJ Abrams’ “Lost” to create consumer product businesses such as video games, DVDs and apparel around their characters. I met John [Fogelman], because he was JJ Abrams’ agent, and a board member and one of the owners of The William Morris Agency (and later WME).
I soon joined John at William Morris to help develop Hasbro’s foray into film and television. We also worked with HSN to help develop the digital gaming platform HSN Arcade. After this, John and I left WME to start Factory Made.
Do you spend much time in the Philippines?
I went back every other year, because I am very close with my cousins, aunt and grandmother who live there. [My] favorite times are around Christmas and New Year when it’s so joyful, spiritual and social. It’s that feeling when everyone comes back from midnight mass, stuffed with food and drinks, singing karaoke at the top of our lungs, cracking cheesy jokes, holding sparklers and watching fireworks on the water, and having tears of gratitude in your eyes just to be surrounded by family. Filipinos work so hard all year round, and when the parols start coming out, we are able to set aside our worries and really bask in our blessings.
I think a lot of people want to know—what is Brad Pitt’s involvement in Enroot?
When it comes to Brad, part of my role is to really listen to his instincts and direction, and work to execute on that vision. For example, he led the creative for the branding and packaging, even sketching out trees and roots for our logo, and he pushed us to look at the alternatives to using plastic bottles and caps. He also honed-in on how to convey our values through Food, Family, Farms and to partner with an independent third-party in sustainability such as SCS Global Services. He brought the idea of bringing in expert chefs and tasted every iteration of our recipes, until we collectively found our sweet spots. He advocated for our give back to the James Beard Foundation’s women’s leadership programs, and is integral in key pitch meetings.
Do you have any personal favorites from your flavors?
I will say that because my Lola had beautiful mango trees on her property, and that ginger is a popular ingredient in Filipino cuisine, the Mango Turmeric Ginger Guayusa holds a special place in my heart. I think this recipe brings the earthy and peppery undertones of the ginger and turmeric to balance out the bold, round flavor of the guayusa leaves and the tropical sweetness of the mangos.
The Strawberry Lavender Rosemary Tulsi is also another personal favorite, because after becoming a mom, my body is very sensitive to coffee and caffeine. This caffeine-free brew is floral and fruit forward, and is an easy delight to enjoy with my young daughter and other mom friends. On occasion, it’s also great with a splash of dry gin!
What are your expansion plans for Enroot?
Our plans right now are to seed our beverages in the Southern California region, and really learn from consumers and partners on what is working and what can we improve on. From there, we would love to grow roots into other regions and hopefully sprout our way into national availability. In the meantime, we hope consumers can enjoy ordering them through www.drinkenroot.com and keep giving us feedback as we gain more momentum.
Published at Tue, 11 May 2021 18:24:35 +0000
Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/cheryltiu/2021/05/11/the-story-behind-enroot-the-filipina-founded-sparkling-teas-backed-by-brad-pitt/