Beach_010When I was given the opportunity a week ago to interview NASCAR legend Joe Nemechek about his new tea venture, I was intrigued.  NASCAR racing is not a subject I know much (read: anything) about, so this was an opportunity to learn a little about it and find out what had drawn Mr. Nemechek into the tea industry.

In case you don’t know, Joe Nemechek was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida and began motocross racing at the age of 13, so racing has been a life-long passion of his.  Among his achievements are All-Pro Late Model Series Champion in 1989 and Busch Series Champion in 1992.  His awards include 1988 USAR Rookie of the Year, 1990 Busch Series Rookie of the Year, and 1992 and 1993 Busch Series Most Popular Driver.  His latest venture, however, is in the world of tea.  He has recently partnered with Herbal Mist, a tea company based in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey that produces a line of teas that are enhanced with Yerba Maté and sweetened with pure cane sugar and Stevia.

bottlemockupErika: How did you discover Herbal Mist tea?
Joe: I have been drinking tea my whole life.  Because of the fast pace of my profession and the need to stay hydrated, I have tried a lot of different teas from a lot of supermarkets over the years and that is how I discovered Herbal Mist.

Erika: What is it about Herbal Mist tea that sets it apart for you?    
Joe: I like to drink beverages that are natural and healthy.  Herbal Mist is both.  I stay away from sodas and because of my tea-drinking history, I favor teas.

Erika: What is your favorite Herbal Mist flavor and why?
Joe: My favorite Herbal Mist tea is Lemon.  I am used to drinking tea with lemon, so this is the perfect flavor for me.

Erika: What led you to ask the company to develop unsweetened versions of their teas?  What was your involvement in the process?

Joe: I happened to be in Dover, New Hampshire and met Greg Piagesi, one of the founders of Herbal Mist.  I had been drinking Herbal Mist teas, but was looking for an unsweetened tea.  One thing led to another and before long we were talking about a new line of unsweetened Herbal Mist teas featuring #87 (Mr. Nemechek’s race car number) and a checkered flag.  The new line is set to launch at the end of February.  I am looking forward to this new venture.

Erika: Did you grow up drinking tea or seeing family members drink tea?

Joe: I grew up in a family of tea lovers.  My Mom used to brew her own tea – mostly black Lipton tea, iced, but unsweetened.  When I was sick, though, it was hot tea with lemon and honey.

Beach_012Erika: Do you drink other teas?  What about hot tea?

Joe: I drink as much as two gallons of iced tea a day.  Sometimes I drink hot tea – in fact, last evening I had some green tea.  But mostly I drink iced tea.

Erika: What associations do you have with tea?

Joe: For me, tea has been a life-long daily habit.  Drinking tea is relaxing, healthy, and a great way to stay hydrated.  Although I don’t generally drink tea during a race, I do drink it before and after races.  Temperatures can get up to 130 degrees F. in the car when you are racing, so hydration is essential.

Erika: What do you do to keep fit?  Do you follow a specific fitness routine?

Joe: I work out 2-3 times a week.  My wife and I make a point of eating healthy and buying organic as much as possible.  My wife is also a tea lover and our kids drink a lot of tea too, especially my youngest daughter, who is 8.  She loves tea.

If you are interested in trying some of Herbal Mist’s teas, they are available online as well as in over 261 cities in the Northeast, including in outlets such as ShopRite, Food Emporium, and Duane Reade.