Rebranding Alvita Tea Illustrations

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Botan­i­cal art for a new tea pack­age design


illustration of rosehips Rebranding Alvita Tea

Rose hips illus­tration by Paul Mirocha for Alvita Herbal Tea packages

See more of Paul’s botanical illus­tra­tions for vintage and re-​​branded Alvita packages.

illustration of hawthorne Rebranding Alvita Tea

illustration of alvita whitebox Rebranding Alvita Tea


New box design with art by Paul Mirocha


For years, I used to admire the design of  Alvita Tea packages when­ever I was in a high-end health food store, with the legacy white boxes fea­tur­ing botan­i­cal paint­ings. With 46 dif­fer­ent herbs, the Alvita shelves read like an illus­trated ency­clo­pe­dia of ancient and mod­ern med­i­c­i­nal plants, with each plant’s spe­cial uses and his­tory printed on the box. I’m a ter­ri­ble gar­dener, but I love plants. So I just draw them.

That was before Twin­lab, Alvita’s par­ent com­pany, called on me to illus­trate a few more plants they wanted to add to the white box lineup. The assign­ment was to imi­tate, as best I could, the style of botan­i­cal water­col­ors on the white packages.

No one knew who that orig­i­nal artist was and they didn’t have any of the old paint­ings. I painted three new pack­ages, holy basil, lemon­grass, and hibis­cus, as close as I could by study­ing a few Alvita Tea boxes I bought in a local store.

The old art was clearly a loose water­color style. I used to do that, but now I was paint­ing dig­i­tally. I tried to loosen up, but I just loved those botan­i­cal details. I could not help mak­ing some improve­ments in the real­ism and mak­ing the new art my own. But when I com­pared my final proof to the old boxes, it didn’t look any­thing like the old art. I knew I had failed.

The next thing I knew, the brand man­ager had decided to redo the plant art in the whole line-up, upgrad­ing them with with my illustrations.

old Alvita package 1922


There was more. After a few weeks, the art direc­tor sent me a new pack­age design with a green band around it and a tan back­ground and asked if I could com­pose the art to fit both boxes. I told him I couldn’t exactly. One of them would have to be com­pro­mised some­what. I was hop­ing the new tan boxes would the that sec­ondary lay­out because the old white boxes were so sim­ple and easy to design with. They just had, well, what design­ers in the know call “white space”.


The new green and tan boxes had a ver­ti­cal row of sym­bols on the left side that cramped the art. And the paint­ing had to wrap around the right cor­ner to look good at a 3/4 angle. But the new was to win out over the old. Alvita was going to be organic now and white just didn’t say “organic” in the visual lan­guage of the shelf.


It turns out that those white boxes were not the orig­i­nal Avita Tea pack­ages any­ways. One of Twinlab’s ven­dors hap­pened across an old Alvita tea pack­age in their grandmother’s attic. It was the lost and for­got­ten 1922 pack­age. The designer had incor­po­rated its beau­ti­fully retro look into a new con­tem­po­rary design.



I spent the next six months crank­ing out the new art on a tight sched­ule so pack­ages could be printed for the unveil­ing at the Expo West Trade show this month. Within a year of two, the white boxes will be dis­con­tin­ued and all Alvita Teas will be organic, in the modern-retro green and tan boxes.


Dandelion, botanical illustration by Paul Mirocha







New Alvita Tea packages illustrated by Paul Mirocha

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