With a five-star rating on Yelp and disciples who call it their “health elixir,” Buddha’s Brew Kombucha has acquired a cult-like following since it launched in Austin, TX, farmers markets in 2006. Now the fermented tea has a custom bottle that has added to its cachet as well as helping the company nearly double sales in the last year. Among the highlights: a peace sign embossed on the bottom as a tongue-in-cheek reward for drinking to the last drop.
Buddha’s Brew kombucha is a fizzy blend of tea, bacteria and yeast that boasts 19 billion live probiotics per bottle along with 14 flavors ranging from Blueberry and Ginger to Tart Cherry Lemon and Tangerine Sea Salt. It’s a modern version of a beverage that dates back to ancient China, where it was revered for its purported curative properties.
Company co-owner and brewmaster Kimberly Lanski originally packaged her handcrafted product in a mason jar from a local salsa company. Customers like the reusability of the jar, but within two years Lanski recognized that she needed a more conventional beverage package to compete with other kombucha brands.
In 2009, with the help of Berlin Packaging (berlinpackaging.com), the company graduated to a stock 16-ounce round that was sourced from a supplier in England because of its resemblance to competitive packages. The bottle was not available in a reshipper carton, forcing Buddha’s Brew to spend both time and money purchasing and assembling its own shipping boxes. But at that point, the company wasn’t ready to commit to a custom mold.
When that changed in 2013 because of rising sales volumes as well as rising package costs, Berlin Packaging consultants went to work brewing up a new design with Lanski’s guidance. Today’s bottle – sourced from China through the Berlin Global Packaging Group – not only costs less and comes in a 12-pack reshipper carton but also has unique features that both personalize the brand and add sensory appeal.
An extra-wide 43mm neck helps release the aroma of each Buddha’s Brew flavor as soon as the consumer opens the cap, enhancing a drinking experience that one reviewer has called “love at first sip.” A dimpled shoulder adds texture as well as a vintage look. The bottom-embossed peace sign – inspired by the Buddha in the brand name, Lanski’s own spiritual journey, and kombucha’s reputation for producing a calming energy – is complemented with labels playfully suggesting that drinkers will “Find peace at the bottom of every bottle.”
“The peace sign portrays what we’re all about, and everyone loves it,” Lanski says. “People post it on their Facebook, and one customer is even using it in a house they’re building out of glass bottles with the bottoms turned out so that the peace symbol is visible from the outside.”
Berlin Packaging inventories the bottles and stock polypropylene closures at its warehouse in San Antonio and delivers them on an as-needed basis to Buddha’s Brew’s commercial kitchen 90 minutes away for filling and labeling. Now sold in locations from farmers markets to select Whole Foods stores, the finished product is feeding the rapidly growing consumer appetite for kombucha in a package that appeals to smell, touch and harmony with the universe – all at the same time.