GTPulse: Traverse City Man’s Tea Tonics Will Sell Statewide

The other night I put on leggings, thick socks and an oversized sweatshirt as I got ready to relax and watch The Politician before bed. As I pulled a blanket over my legs and stretched out on the couch, I reached for my phone to set my alarm and saw that it was only 7:30 p.m. Somewhere between daylight savings time and eating like a 20-year-old college boy, my energy has been zapped. The sun may be going down (much) earlier but the shorter days and darker nights are no reason to take on days filled with low energy and lethargy. Small choices lead to big changes in mindset and energy. Traverse City native Phil Smith has combined his love for health and clean living with Choice Energy, and the product will soon be sold statewide.

Choice Energy is a variety of tea tonics that are packed full of clean ingredients with health benefits. Ingredients like apple cider vinegar, turmeric, ginger, and black seed oil make for beverages that are a far cry from your typical gas station pickup. Because the drinks aren’t full of sugar they have a pleasant, subtle sweetness and zip that cuts through from the vinegar. Phil practices what he preaches and lives a very clean lifestyle as a vegan, which was a part of the inspiration that began Choice Energy.

Born and raised in Traverse City, Phil had been involved in theatre and choir in high school. Right after graduating he set off for Los Angeles to be in a performing arts group. Los Angeles has long been a community that idolizes health, beauty and the latest trends in both.

“It was actually out there where I got introduced to juicing. I had my first shot of wheatgrass and I felt good, I had never had anything like that before, it kind of sparked something in me.”

Phil started drinking juices and eating healthy regularly and those habits followed him to Florida where he studied entertainment business and recording arts at Full Sail University. Musical theatre had been one of Phil’s favorite aspects of performing and he was interested in producing music.

His schooling didn’t lead to a job in music, but it did lead to a job in production.

“I had a friend who got me my first job in New York City in production on the camera side and I got right into the Food Network. It was a great opportunity, I took it and lived there for about three and a half, four years.”

The job was a great experience for Phil, but not sustainable. He was working 15 to 18 hour days and knew that it wouldn’t be something he could do for the rest of his life. Food was still in the back of his mind.

“I had to figure out what was next. I needed to create something that I was passionate about, that gave me purpose and could help others.”

Choice Energy was born from his brainstorming, with his first tonic being a combination of matcha and apple cider vinegar. Phil chose matcha as a main ingredient because he was born with a heart condition and had to be conscious of how much caffeine he was consuming. Matcha is a green tea made from ground tea leaves and has a smoother, steadier energy flow than coffee does. When Phil had been introduced to matcha he noticed the difference between the two different caffeine buzzes instantly.

“That’s what the big thing for me was. I didn’t get the jitters.”

Apple cider vinegar touts a multitude of health benefits from lowering cholesterol to balancing pH levels in the body. The combination of matcha and ACV works well as a cleaner alternative to energy drinks or sugar-laden coffeehouse drinks.

Phil started out small doing demos in local markets and getting feedback from the public and the first year was a mixture of gathering feedback and getting proper licensing.

“I loved being in the community and talking about it.” 

That first tonic has since grown into a matcha lemonade, and other elixirs have been created since. There are other drinks like the matcha lemonade that provide an energy boost, but there are also two different types of kombucha and a lavender lemonade that can soothe the mind with hemp oil and lavender. The newest drink joining the collection of tonics is a chaga chai, with chaga mushroom as the superfood star of the drink.

Locally, Choice Energy is available at Lucky’s, Brew, Oryana and soon to be Tom’s and Olseon’s. Phil recently also teamed up with Cherry Capital Foods distributor and teas will be available statewide through them.

“It’ll be available all over the state in the next few weeks which is a big step for us.”

Despite the business being on a high, Phil plans on continuing to grow Choice Energy with hopes of expanding throughout the Midwest, Colorado and out West. No matter how far Choice Energy expands, we’re able to get it right from the source in Traverse City.

Categories: GTPulse