Of rooibos and hemp: Your guide to drinking healthy

The hipsters have grown up. When they say sustainability, they are digging a little deeper (as deep as the gut) to find the link between good health and safe environmental practices. And it is all distilled into that smoothie, cold-pressed juice or cold-brewed coffee. Chefs, ingredient suppliers and brand owners weigh in on what is new: they centre on wellness and are mostly caffeine-free.

Clean labels are a thing

Of rooibos and hemp: Your guide to drinking healthy

First there were the soda drinks, then Tetra-packed juices and now drinks with easy-to-understand back-of-the-packs. “People are rejecting terms they don’t understand on the label, chemicals, and artificial ingredients,” says Anuj Rakyan, co-founder and MD, Raw Pressery, Mumbai. If you are sipping on something at a café, you are probably going to get what is absolutely fresh, but if it is from a bottle, you may want to look at the expiry date, ask about the cold chain, and look at the label for added sugar,” says Delhi-based dietician, Ritika Samaddar.

Local goes beyond turmeric

“I spend half my time in London, and what is really popular is all that’s native to India, like turmeric or ginger,”says Alice Helme, who is now curating the menu at Delhi’s Nico Caara that opened recently. “People feel India is missing berries — blueberries, raspberries — but there are gooseberries, mulberries,” she says. Singh says she feels adaptogens (herbs that act as stress-busters) like ashwagandha are going to be the next wave of superfoods.

Fermentation is the new cool

With words like brain-gut connect, microbiota and probiotics entering dinner-table discussion, it is no wonder. Achintya Anand, who learnt his chef craft at Le Cordon Bleu and then turned farmer, supplies kombucha, under the brand name Khukrain’s Kombucha (₹280 for 600 ml), with ingredients from his farm. Sometimes, he gets special requests for strawberry, beetroot, ginger, hibiscus, or pomegranate flavours, and while there is demand, it is still nascent. On a larger scale, Raw Pressery is working with food technologists and researchers to derive its own fruit-based probiotic drink, to combine the benefits of both prebiotics and probiotics.


Of rooibos and hemp: Your guide to drinking healthy

Sahil Sethi, who manages and chefs at Delhi’s The Grammar Room, says he lacto-ferments everything from guava to plums — whatever is in season. “We are not new to this tradition,” he says, speaking of kanji, the purple-carrot fermented drink had in the warm sun of North India’s winter months. Nicobar’s recently-launched in-house café, Nico Caara, at The Chanakya, Delhi’s newest luxury shopping experience, will have strawberry- and coconut-yoghurt lassi to feed into the gut-health knowledge.

Traceability is in your juice

Raw Pressery (priced from ₹80 onwards) sources its apples from Jammu, pineapples from Kerala, coconuts from Pollachi, pomegranates and sugarcane from Maharashtra and some from Madhya Pradesh. While they do import a few ingredients, such as ceremony-grade matcha, these are used in small quantities in combination with coconut milk, kale, guava and apple. Nico Caara sources a part of their produce from their farms in and around Delhi and some from countries that touch the Indian Ocean. There is also an exploration into our traditional drinks: sattu cooler (₹90 a glass), for instance, is available at the Potbelly café in New Delhi.

Black and white choices

Alkaline water, said to help modulate pH levels and control acidity, may soon make an appearance at SPI Cinemas’ juice bar in Chennai, while Antidote — another juice detox brand in the capital — has what is called a ‘starter’ that has it as an ingredient. Milk, unless it is organic cow’s milk, is synonymous with type 1 and hormones today. Cue almond, that most beverage companies stock. “We’ve launched almond milk and are completing trials on cashew, hazelnut, flax and pumpkin in our innovation lab,” says Bhavesh D Shah, who heads Experience and New Initiatives at SPI. Then there’s the move towards detoxifying, with activated charcoal, though the med frat is sceptical about this, as it may have long-term ill-effects.

Dieticians mix your drinks

An increasing number of health drink brands are working with dieticians, in order to make sure combinations work, nutritionally, and feed into the growing functional foods market. Simarjeet Singh, co-founder at Raw Leaf, Gurugram, talks about a range of drinks he plans to launch mid-summer, in tandem with dieticians, that will address specific health problems. “These will be anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, for instance. They will ask specific questions: Feeling fatigued? Have a migraine?” he says. (Currently, their cold-pressed juices are priced at ₹149). Pure Smoothies in Hyderabad (₹140 upwards) already does this. Their chikoo-fig-coconut combination, for instance, is “high on potassium and vitamin B that is excellent for your nervous system,” says an online description.


Of rooibos and hemp: Your guide to drinking healthy

Our hills hold secrets

Seabuckthorn, used in everything from soaps to supplements, is found in the Spiti Valley. Karan Singh Tomar, Director, Nutriorg, Jaipur, discovered its potential when he checked in with research to see why it was being used the world over. “It is a rare berry that has all the omegas, plus vitamin C and calcium,” he says. The Nutriorg packaging tells you how to drink it (as a tonic to be diluted with warm water twice or thrice a day; ₹555 for 500 ml). Tomar, a landed farmer, who grows much of what he sells, markets his drinks as immunity boosters, because, he believes, good health begins there.

Leaves make an entry

Karma Kettle in Kolkata uses rooibos (in a tea with liquorice, vanilla, sage, fennel), a native South African shrub, the leaves of which have no caffeine and few tannins (₹140 upwards). Nico Caara will also have leaves from the rhododendron and verbena featuring in their drinks, along with a whole range of botanicals such as fennel seeds and lemon grass. Chennai’s Caboutu (formerly Relish) uses banana stem, drumstick leaves, bael leaves and betel leaves in its green elixirs (₹140 onwards), while Pumpkin Tales, a restaurant in Chennai, uses beet leaves that give a smoothie an earthy flavour.

Flowers stay

Hibiscus is on every menu — whether it is used in combination with other ingredients, such as at Karma Kettle, where it is made into a cold green-tea-with-apple-berries-hibiscus concoction or simply had ‘neat’, from a tea bag. Orange blossom, marigold and seabuckthorn flowers have been popular for a while too.


Of rooibos and hemp: Your guide to drinking healthy

Hemp is hot

When Mohit Yadav, co-founder of New-Delhi based Greenr, went to Pittoragagh, Uttarakhand, last summer, he found hemp seeds in almost everything the locals cooked. Right there, he made up his mind to introduce it to his Delhi patrons. “Not too many people realise it’s a high-protein option for vegetarians,” says Yadav, who has priced his hemp juice at ₹349. Carol Singh, co-founder, of New-Delhi based Antidote (₹70 onwards) says they plan to bump up protein levels in the almond milk with hemp.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 5:42:55 PM |

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