When you name a drink after one of the first two people to have conquered Mount Everest you set the bar high.
What’s more, if you strip out the artificial highs that give most energy drinks their kick, you have a steep challenge on your hands.
It’s one that ex-Red Bull executive Huib van Bockel was more than up to. He launched Tenzing, a natural, low-sugar energy drink in January 2016, naming it after Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who accompanied Edmund Hillary to the summit of Everest in 1953.
Van Bockel found his inspiration for the drink on a trip to Nepal when he tasted the strong teas brewed by the Sherpas, one containing salt and the other lemon and sugar. He set about combining natural ingredients from all corners of the globe until he had a plant-based energy drink that merited being named after one of the world’s most famous mountaineers.
Tenzing is made from green tea, raw green coffee, guarana (a bright red fruit from Brazil’s Amazon basin, twice as rich in natural caffeine as coffee), Himalayan rock salt and lemon juice.
Its 4.9g of beet sugar per 100ml of drink weighs in just under the 5g threshold for the government’s sugar tax.
Jack Flower is spreading the Tenzing story
Employee No. 1 and National Account Manager, Jack Flower is responsible for finding low-budget, creative ways to spread the Tenzing story and sign up new stockists.
Despite having nothing like the resources of his big-name competitors, Flower has managed to get the drink stocked in places as diverse as NHS hospitals, BP petrol stations and the high-altitude shops along the trekking route to Everest base camp.
Flower’s passion for this business is crystal clear.
“To work for a brand with a true purpose and incredible story is very rare. I loved the story when I met Huib and immediately saw the vision he had that people would move away from unhealthy, high-sugar soft drinks and into premium, natural and low-sugar alternatives.”
Tenzing ticks all the right trend boxes but is it still able to deliver on taste? Positive reviews online describe it as a light, refreshing drink, free from the syrupy, synthetic taste of many energy drinks. “It’s a fantastic alternative to these drinks,” says Flower, “and also as a refreshing alternative to a cup of coffee.”
Like any mountaineers, Team Tenzing has faced stiff challenges every step of the way. Perhaps the toughest has been in ‘uncoupling’ the terms ‘unhealthy’ and ‘energy drink’ in the minds of their target audience of professionals in the 25 to 35-year-old age range.
“Working with Sodexo is another incredible opportunity to rewrite the rules and reach our core market,” says Flower. “As well as offering a functional, on-the-go beverage that doesn’t have to cost you countless calories and sugar highs and lows, we also get to work together with large corporations on their health and well-being initiatives. Nice.”