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New functional tea brand, buoyed by $6.7M in new funding, debuts in Wegmans, Whole Foods

The Ryl Company, a healthy beverage company making a line of functional ready-to-drink tea, raised $6.7 million in funding and is launching into retailers across the Northeastern U.S. in Wegmans and select Whole Foods Market and Wakefern stores.

Functional beverages, those offering healthier benefits then your average drink, are hot right now, especially in the area of soda, with companies like Poppi and Olipop grabbing venture capital. The global functional beverage category is expected to be valued at $173 billion by 2025.

Blodin Ukrella, former data scientist at drink company Bai and chief strategy officer for plant-based protein company OWYN, went out on his own in 2022 and embarked on a nine-month development process to create a tea that had functional tea polyphenols and delivered flavor without sugar or artificial ingredients.

Nineteen iterations later, the company’s proprietary technology creates a formula that delivers 200 milligrams of tea polyphenols in each can and is sweetened by monk fruit and stevia leaf extract, Ukrella told TechCrunch via email.

He said the goal is to pioneer what he called “the additive revolution, meaning adding to everything you do.”

“We are adding wellness-oriented propositions to higher use case beverage occasions, which offers the modern, health-conscious consumer a better-for-you alternative to drink in this tea set,” Ukrella added. “We are rightfully competitive compared to a slew of emerging tea brands on the market that feel like similar iced teas of the past with different labels, and we aspire to build household penetration beyond that legacy consumer.”

Today, Ryl debuts its line with four different flavors: Original Green Tea, Peach Black Tea, Raspberry Black Tea and Lemon Black Tea.

Ukrella did not disclose the strategic investors but did say the capital would be mainly deployed into product development.

“We are extremely fortunate to have raised capital from strategic investors who are extraordinary thought leaders and titans in their own industries,” he added. “Right now, our focus is growing a business with healthy cash flow and margins, reinvesting in our retail and distributing partners, and most importantly, our consumers.”

Up next, Ryl has plans to be on store shelves in nationwide Sprouts Farmers Market by March.