Drinking herbs and spices: Turmeric, basil and lavender create a real taste sensation

A spicey beverage next to herbs and spices

Herbs and spices can be found in practically every kitchen. After all, there are many dishes that benefit from their unmistakable and delicious flavor. And over the centuries, herbs and spices have been used as cures in traditional medicine. Because they’re such commonly used ingredients, it’s surprising that they haven’t made their way into the products produced by the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Given the ever-growing health awareness of consumers, this could all change sooner that you might think.

Producers of flavors and ingredients offer a wide range of options here. Sensient Flavors’ Spice Collection, for example, can be used to add black or pink pepper, star anise, clove and saffron to drinks. The company’s specially mixed Herbs Collection includes garden mint, coriander leaves, sage, rosemary, hops, oregano, basil, thyme, lemongrass and aloe vera.

Esarom has developed new concepts for lemonades under the name Kitchengarden that are based on recipes combining culinary herbs with familiar orchard fruits and lemons. The numerous possibilities producing innovative drinks include cherry-thyme, lemon-sage, pear-basil and blackcurrant-coriander.

Carbotanicals, developed by WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients (WFSI), also feature popular fruits combined with a touch of natural herb extracts. And just like the aforementioned companies, Döhler also has its sights firmly set on the grown-up soft drinks industry with a broad range of herb and spice extracts, including ginger, cardamom, lavender and peppermint.

The medicinal healing approach of Jamu in the non-alcoholic beverage industry

The beverage industry is also taking a lot of inspiration from age-old traditions and recipes in its use of herbs and spices. One such example is the traditional Indonesian medicine Jamu, which translates to “herbs, flowers and roots” and is comparable to India’s Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine.

Jamu-based recipes using natural plant materials have been passed down from mothers to daughters on the island of Java for over a 1,000 years. Kevin Singh Witzorek, a Hamburg-based entrepreneur, who says that he grew up with natural medicine, yoga and a daily pinch of turmeric, has taken the idea of Jamu and developed a series of wellness drinks called Jamu No. 1 to Jamu No. 3, each of which is designed to fulfill a different purpose.

Using ginger, turmeric, aronia, coriander and fennel, No. 1 is designed to strengthen your hair and nails, whereas No. 2 contains ingredients such as ginseng, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric to promote relaxation. No. 3 is an energizer, whereby ginseng, cardamom, guarana, black pepper, nutmeg and chili are responsible for producing the desired effect.

“The Jamu composition of vital substances with vitamins, adaptogens and trace elements opens up a whole new league in the beverages sector. We never compromise on taste. All varieties are lightly carbonated, organic, vegan and lactose and gluten-free. 100% of the ingredients are sustainably produced,” says Kevin Singh Witzorek.

The brand Gewara also takes inspiration from the medicinal healing approach of Jamu, such as with Gewara Curcuma Tamarind, a drink made from turmeric and other superfoods, including tamarind, yuzu juice, ginseng, damiana, black pepper and maca. Gewara Superfood Cola and Gewara Guava Coconut are, respectively, Cuban and Hawaiian recipes for success, hence the brand’s general motto: “Drinks around the world.”

Turmeric is very on trend

Natural food juicing company Voelkel also sees potential in this area, especially when it comes to turmeric. It has launched three drinks all containing the spice, which is said to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties while protecting and improving the health of all organs: Kurkumasaft aus Peru (Turmeric Juice from Peru), a 100% organic turmeric juice, fair to go, a combination of apple and mango juice (not from concentrate) with turmeric, and Switchel Kurkuma (Switchel Turmeric), a fruity and tangy drink with apple juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and ginger, which apparently used to be drunk in America by haymakers to quench their thirst in the heat.

Herbs are fun

innocent is one of several smoothie brands which have shot to fame by using appealing, funny and quirky product names. Its two new releases “Eins, Zwei, Chai” and “One in a Vanillion” are a clear indication that it’s also continuing this tradition with its Spice Smoothies range. The first is a mix of pear, banana, fig and chai herbs. The second combines raspberries and rhubarb with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

It’s not just about the taste, but also the texture

Other beverage companies have also now jumped on the herbs-and-spices bandwagon, yet there are still not that many of them overall. Piranjasoul, for example, recently introduced a cherry-rosemary lemonade to its range, while Rabenhorst promotes its Klostergarten, an organic multi-fruit juice containing essences from galangal, licorice and violet blossom.

Two of Friya Snacking Drinks’ total of three products are based on basil seeds, which make the drinks feel unusual in your mouth as after being soaked in water the seeds take on a jelly-like texture, similar to chia seeds.

Bauer Fruchtsaft’s soft drink named “J wie Johanna,” which combines blackcurrants with mint, is comparatively less spectacular despite its innovative ingredients.

Fermentation and natural ingredients make for a promising combination

According to market research company Mintel, 55% of Spanish, 53% of Polish and 43% of French consumers believe that carbonated soft drinks are better for you if they are made purely from natural ingredients. Presumably, consumers in other European countries and many other parts of the world are also of a similar opinion.

The fermentation trend will surely therefore sit well with them, since some new drinks already combine both trends – fermentation together with herbs and spices.

One example is Dutch company Mattisson’s Living Lemonade Ginger & Curcuma, a fermented drink containing ginger, tumeric, pepper and probiotics. Another is British company Watson & Pratt’s Kefir Zing Sparkling Blackcurrant, a drink that combines kefir cultures with filtered water and fruity components.

A herb and spice-laden non-alcoholic drink posing as a spirit

Extremely interesting, most definitely different and yet very successful: a herb and spice-laden non-alcoholic drink posing as a spirit. This is the only way to describe Seedlip, which according to Lifestyle Drinks is the world’s very first distilled non-alcoholic spirit.

It was developed in the UK in 2016 by Ben Branson in his kitchen in the woods with the help of a small copper still. The Seedlip Garden 108 and Seedlip Spice 94 varieties of the “spirit” are now available in major cities across the world and even in 80 Michelin-starred restaurants. Seedlip was recently also launched in Germany.

It could also be easier than you think

You really have to think laterally in order to develop new, successful non-alcoholic beverages. However, creating innovative non-alcoholic herb-and-spice drinks could be a lot easier than you might think.

It’s often worth looking beyond national borders and tinkering around with traditional recipes from different cultures as well as ones that have been passed down through generations.

And perhaps all you need to do to get started is simply to have a look at a book on herbs and spices to get the creative juices flowing and develop some innovative new ideas.

Friederike Arndt

As a freelance trade journalist, Friederike Arndt is regarded as an expert in the area of beverages. She spent a long time writing for, inter alia, the trade magazines Getränkeindustrie (beverage industry) and Getränkefachgroßhandel (beverage wholesale trade). On the blog, she reports on the latest trends and innovations in the field of non-alcoholic beverages.