Beverage Manufacturers Face a Number Of Challenges When Using Botanicals

Manufacturers are finding increasing demand for botanical remedies is both a national and international trend.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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Tizane claims to be the nation's first line of premium organic botanical beverages, having debuted in 2008 from Island Infusions, LLC (www.tizane.com). Varieties are Hibiscus (hibiscus flower, rose hips, anise seed, spearmint leaf, lemon balm and blue agave nectar), Lemongrass (lemongrass, hibiscus flower, anise seed, lemon balm, eucalyptus), and Jasmine (jasmine flower, hibiscus flower, linden leaf and flower, and blue agave nectar).

"Tizane botanicals take you to a new destination in taste," says co-founder and CEO Charlie Pucciariello. "They bring out the full flavor, aroma, color and nutrients of the botanicals in their true, natural state. Plus Tizane beverages aren't teas, so they're totally caffeine-free."

But teas and botanicals are a natural match. The Republic of Tea (www.republicoftea.com), Novato, Calif., blends the two in Super Tea Boosters, which can be blended into liquids rather than dissolved like most instant powders, providing more antioxidant value. The finely ground herbal supplement gives an antioxidant boost to juices, smoothies, yogurt, milk and more.

Varieties include: Tropical Hibiscus (Nigerian hibiscus blossoms infused with natural pineapple and lychee) with an ORAC value of 769 per half-teaspoon serving; Açaí Green Super Tea Booster (green tea and açaí) with an ORAC value of 1,429 per serving; and Double Dark Chocolate Maté Super Tea Booster (organic Brazilian roasted maté and organic dark chocolate) with an ORAC value of 893.

Botanicals are having an impact in foodservice, as well. At San Francisco's The Ice Cream Bar, which opened in January, all soda flavors derive from botanicals. "It's where people got flavor before artificial flavorings," says owner Juliet Pries, who counts 24 house-made extracts (bergamot, rosewood, sassafras) and more than 75 tinctures at the bar.

"Restaurants might serve dandelion leaves instead of regular greens," she says (dandelion is said to help with detoxification, as are burdock and milk thistle), "or chamomile in desserts to replace the traditionally relaxing chamomile tea at the end of a meal."

Companies are turning toward herbs and botanicals to add function and flavor in restaurants and bars. According to the MenuMonitor database from Chicago-based Technomic Inc. (www.technomic.com), in the fourth quarter of 2011 the top herbs and spices used in non-alcohol beverage menu descriptions were ginger, mint, cinnamon, peppermint, lavender, sage, lemongrass, cardamom, salt and basil.

Many of those non-alcoholic beverages were teas, but some were carbonated soft drinks and juices. For adult beverages, the top herbs and spices were mint, ginger, cinnamon, salt, basil, sage, black pepper, anise, nutmeg and peppermint. 

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