At this year's Natural Products Expo West, waves upon waves of foodies descended upon the Anaheim Convention Center in California hoping to get a taste of the newest and most innovative natural food creations coming to market in 2023.
In an unassuming booth toward the back of the conference was Gabriel Heymann, co-creator of Space Tea — the first mushroom tea and lemonade functional beverage of its kind. Tasting it once was all it took for me to ask Heymann for his contact info and hop on a call to discuss the inception and creation of Space Tea.
Dylan: So, the product is amazing. There's no doubt about that. Where did the whole idea of a "space tea" come from?
Gabriel: Well, my brother works in the music industry with a few top-selling artists who all really started getting into functional mushrooms soon after the pandemic, since it allowed them to focus while giving them energy. Since he and I both loved Arnold Palmers growing up, we wound up asking ourselves, "What would a functional mushroom Arnold Palmer taste like?" I jumped into the kitchen and immediately started crafting together functional mushroom tea mixed with lemonade. Boom. Space Tea.
Dylan: When did all of that start?
Gabriel: The idea came toward the end of 2020 and we had our first completed products ready to sell at Erewhon on August 1st, 2021. It was about an eight-month turnaround.
Dylan: So all of that product then was just made at home? No big machines or fancy warehouses full of mushrooms and lemonade?
Gabriel: Haha, no way. I've always said if I can't make it in my kitchen, then I don't want to produce it. As we scale the product, we don't skimp on the best possible ingredients for it. Quality will always supersede quantity. And what's funny is that by July 26, I had 100 cases ready to go but didn't trust any of the trucking companies to carry it across the country for me, so I ended up putting them all in my little car and showed up to Erewhon on August 1 to deliver them personally.
Dylan: It's obvious how much this product means to you, G. How many different types of Space Tea have you produced now?
Gabriel: We have our OG line of flavors — original, watermelon, and mango — and we just released Space Tea Zero, a new line of zero-calorie teas in lemon, hibiscus, and matcha flavors.
Dylan: I gotta be honest. I was telling my mom this morning I had an interview scheduled with the co-creator of a functional mushroom beverage and she couldn't have been more shocked. How do you, someone who cares so much about their product, sell to those who might turn their heads at the idea of drinking "shrooms?"
Gabriel: She's definitely not the first person to be wary of the "shrooms" aspect, but I think people have a skewed perception of mushrooms. Our product uses mushrooms designed for uplifting energy and mental clarity. I always ask: "Do you like tea? Do you like lemonade? Do you like them together? Sold."
Dylan: I mean, even the branding for it is out-of-this-world.
Gabriel: Was that a space joke about Space Tea?!
Dylan: Absolutely it was. How does the branding help represent the tea itself?
Gabriel: It’s always been about a collective, bringing together artists to create a brand that’s different, to bring a fresh, new look to marketing every new can like a new star on the scene. Every five years, someone has to innovate. We decided to pioneer the next innovation. Space is retro and futuristic at the same time, the aspirational aspect of space. We wanted to take something retro and make it futuristic.
Dylan: And, I mean, it works. Even just the sample I had at Expo West put me in a better mood.
Gabriel: That makes me so happy to hear. You know, I always tell this story to people. As I was developing, diving in and studying, experimenting in the kitchen, I had a really bad day at work — felt groggy, didn't want to do anything. I remember getting home, walking upstairs, and finding a batch of Space Tea in the fridge. I drank it and it completely turned my day around. Completely changed my outlook, uplifted my spirits, gave me energy. I called my brother and said, “Not only does it taste great now but it works. I want to tell everyone about this.”
Dylan: And now you are! You're already in Sprouts and Erewhon right now which is huge.
Gabriel: Yeah, and we just finished securing our partnership with Vitamin Shoppe which will start carrying us nationwide this summer. Oh and Amazon!
Dylan: Can people order through your website as well?
It's safe to say Heymann is incredibly passionate about what he and his brother have created during the pandemic. The product itself — and I say this with no incentive whatsoever — is delicious and it works. I tried the hibiscus flavor and immediately asked for a second.