May 3/Atlanta/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- Coca-Cola Co. is giving its Nestea line a makeover, adding flavors and new packaging in hopes of grabbing a bigger piece of a growing U.S. tea segment.

The remade Nestea arrives in stores this month, Coke said Friday. The drinks will have new labels and come in slimmer, straight-walled plastic bottles designed to more clearly distinguish them from carbonated soft drinks.

Nestea also will introduce Green Tea Citrus and Diet Green Tea Citrus flavors with 50% more antioxidants than a previous Nestea green tea.

"You could sum it up to say we changed pretty well everything that we could to make sure we had the strongest proposition for consumers," said Penny McIntyre, senior vice president and general manager of coffee and tea for Coca-Cola North America.

The changes are significant because teas represent a fast-growing segment, but it is an area where Coke has trailed the competition.

In 2007, U.S. take-home sales volume for tea rose 20.5%. Lipton, a PepsiCo Inc. brand, led teas last year with 38.1% of the U.S. take-home market. Arizona Tea was second at 30.8%, with Snapple third at 13.1%.

Nestea ranked fourth with 8.5% of the market. Coke markets Nestea ready-to-drink teas under a licensing agreement with Nestle. Coke's tea brands also include Gold Peak and some varieties of Fuze, and this year it bought a 40% stake in Honest Tea.

In the past, Coke has failed to capitalize on the entire tea segment, focusing on traditional black teas and lacking strong products in green teas, McIntyre said.

Much of the recent growth has been in green teas, which are viewed by consumers as a healthy option, she said.

"We were predominantly black tea," McIntyre said. "We were very much anchored in the past where tea used to be ... We weren't really poised to ride the wave."

Coke will launch a new Nestea marketing campaign over the next few months, prime tea-drinking season, to usher in the new packaging and flavors.

A key part of the campaign includes handing out more than 1 million free samples of Nestea, McIntyre said.

Nestea teams will be hitting sporting events, community events and concerts. The new Nestea also will be pitched at U.S. colleges and universities.

"What we really want to do is make sure consumers understand Nestea has truly changed and moved from some perceptions that we are a soft drink into the fact that we are a great-tasting tea," McIntyre said.

From the May 12, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash