CHICAGO — Ready-to-drink beverages that deliver more than just hydration continue to flood the market. Many contain proprietary blends of botanicals, which are ingredients derived from plants, usually in the form of a liquid extract or dried leaf or other part of the plant. Many are recognized for their varied purported health and wellness benefits and appeal to the growing number of consumers who prefer to rely on Mother Nature rather than the pharmaceutical industry to treat short-term health and wellness concerns as well as invest in long-term well-being.
Many botanicals are characterized by a floral aroma, such as chamomile, ginseng, jasmine and lavender. They represent a flavorful approach to adding value to beverages. Other plant extracts are isolated and purified to be void of flavor and color.
Almost all botanicals function as antioxidants, helping the body fight damage from free radicals that may wreak havoc on the body by causing cells to grow and reproduce abnormally. There are also some botanicals that function as a stimulant, while others provide a calming effect. Some are associated with improving digestion, building immunity and even reducing stress.
In the mainstream market, Welch’s, Concord, Mass., best known for its purple grape juices and spreads, has introduced Fruit & Botanical juice drinks. Made with fruit juice and without high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors or preservatives, the three varieties — cucumber watermelon, raspberry hibiscus and strawberry blossom — are apple juice blended with various flavorful botanical ingredients. The packages do not make any health and wellness claims, rather, the term botanical is suggestive of the benefits.
This past summer, Arteasans Beverages L.L.C., North Miami Beach, Fla., introduced a line of ready-to-drink. 5-calorie iced teas featuring fresh-brewed tea infused with fruit juices and botanicals. The Energy Tea is black tea with blueberry, guarana and ginseng. Focus is based on yerba mate and includes peach and rosemary. Be Well starts with green tea and includes elderberry, elderflower, passionfruit and peppermint. Calm is white tea infused with chamomile, holy basil, mango and passion flower.
“People today want more from their beverages,” said Fernando Rodriguez, founder and chief executive officer of Arteasan. “They expect more in terms of health, naturalness, quality and convenience.
“These four Arteasan infusions reflect our passionate belief that nature has the power to replenish what daily life depletes. That’s why we searched the globe for the most beneficial and luscious ingredients, and we’re proud of our mission to offer ‘a world of good’ in every bottle.”
Water with benefits
H2rOse L.L.C., Los Angeles, produces a namesake beverage described as contributing to beauty and health from within. Containing rose water and saffron, H2rOse comes in apple, mango, mixed berry and peach flavors. The beverage is slightly sweetened with evaporated cane sugar and fruit juice, delivering 60 calories per 12-oz bottle.
“We believe that water is the main source of life since our bodies are comprised of mostly water,” said Kia Illulian, president and c.e.o. “Our vision is to promote health and wellness through hydration, by making drinking water more exciting and interesting to the masses while adding true functionality.
“H2rOse is a modern day version of an ancient recipe. During the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo was known to drink rose water (acqua di rose) as part of his daily tea ritual. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, who was considered the most beautiful woman in the empire, was one of the biggest fans of the healing and beautifying qualities of rose water.”
Homeopaths believe drinking rose water purifies the body because of the flavonoids, tannins and essential vitamins such as A, C, D, E and B3 it contains. Rose water has been used to enhance mood and soothe the mind. Saffron is another natural remedy that supports many functions, including digestion, mood and satiety.
Paramus, N.J.-based Kristian Regale Inc. imports Frisa, a sparkling European-inspired botanical beverage. The three varieties are black currant rosehip, elderflower and ginger hibiscus. Sold in 750-milliliter glass bottles, and intended to be a non-alcoholic option for adults, caffeine-free Frisa is lightly sweetened with a hint of natural cane sugar and is under 100 calories per serving.
TH Herbals U.S., Inc., San Francisco, has developed a line of botanical beverages under the Total Happiness Naturals brand. Based on gac fruit, which is called the “fruit from heaven” in Asia because it is believed to encourage longevity and well-being, scientists recently have discovered that gac arils contain such nutrients as lycopene and the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene.
TH Herbals took the fruit, added functional tea infusions and created a line of natural beverages. Each variety contains extra botanicals for specific benefits. For example, Vision Boost Blackberry includes hibiscus extract and acerola powder. Healthy Heart Boost Persimmon relies on soluble chicory root fiber and acerola powder. Energy Boost Wild Passion is all about green tea extract and vitamin B3.
This past September at Expo East in Baltimore, VitzDrinks Limited of Dublin, Ireland, showcased its line of VitHit drinks. This is a line of tea- and botanical-based drinks fortified with eight vitamins and containing 16 to 35 calories per 16.9-oz bottle.
Each of the six varieties contains a proprietary blend of ingredients to provide a unique health and wellness benefit. For example, Lean and Green is designed to speed up metabolism through the addition of L-carnitine and mate tea to the 12% juice blend of green apple and elderflower.
Revive was created for those who want to give a lift to their day, without having a sugar crash. This blend of citrus fruits, fused with vitamins, water, 300 mg of white tea and 25 mg of ginseng is designed to be an elixir to start the day.
Designed for inner cleansing, the detox formulation contains 10% mandarin and mango juices blended with spring water and vitamins. Each bottle includes 300 mg of green tea extract, equivalent to the amount of antioxidants found in three cups of brewed green tea.
San Leandro, Calif.-based Hemp2O markets a namesake organic, herbal, vitamin beverage. Although derived from the same cannabis plant as marijuana, hemp contains no tetrahydrocannabinol (T.H.C.), which is the chemical responsible for most of cannabis’ psychological effects. The beverage is made with hemp seed extract, an oil concentrated with nutrients that regulate mental health while also nourishing the body.
Niche beverage innovations
Then there is a real T.H.C.-containing beverage. House of Jane, San Jose, Calif., markets Jane’s Brew gourmet R.-T.-D. tea. Using such ingredients as fair-trade loose leaf tea, cane sugar and a proprietary carbon dioxide-extracted cannabis formulation, Jane’s Brew currently comes in three varieties, each formulated to provide a different benefit.
The green tea is said to revive while the sweet black tea energizes. The tropical passion unsweetened tea is all about refreshing. A tea lemonade will be added soon.
The beverages are formulated to deliver synergistic effects of caffeine and cannabis, with effects beginning within 15 minutes of consumption and lasting 3 to 5 hours, said Ben-David Sheppard, c.e.o. The products are lab tested and certified for quality and consistency and do not have any cannabis smell or aftertaste.
Each 12-oz opaque black glass bottle contains 100 mg of T.H.C. and 40 calories. Though labels explicitly state that this is medical cannabis, to make sure the product does not get into the hands of children, the company uses child-proof packaging.
“Pharmaceutical-type packaging has emerged as an important safety issue as it relates to medical cannabis,” Mr. Sheppard said. “We wanted to meet it head on, creating the most effective re-sealable child-proof packaging for bottled beverages on the market.
“This is only one way that Jane’s Brew distinguishes itself. We are a premium, upscale brand that offers a discreet cannabis experience for those who prefer an alternative to prescription painkillers, alcohol, smoking or high-calorie edibles. Our products attract a more mature and discerning patient base who is often focused on maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle.”
Within the pharmaceutical space are products marketed as dietary supplements rather than beverages. For example, Austin, Texas-based Sozo Global Inc., developed Sozo Nutritional Beverage, which is a dietary supplement drink made from a blend of nutrients, including coffee berries and other plant extracts. One 3-oz serving provides the antioxidant equivalent of 21 servings of fruits and vegetables. The company claims this premium dietary supplement provides an array of health benefits, including the neutralization of free radicals that are responsible for aging, stimulation of anti-inflammatory properties and promotion of healthy cardiovascular function. The drink also includes the botanical ashwagandha, which is associated with improved mental acuity, increased energy levels, blood sugar regulation and weight management.
Truetoniqs, Boulder, Colo., also uses a proprietary blend of botanicals in its namesake dietary supplement. The company said its highly concentrated botanicals are combined using the principles of Ayurveda with each formula carefully curated to provide a specific benefit. For example, elderflower black currant Immuno Toniq relies on a blend of seven plant extracts to make the promise of assisting with building immunity. Citrus Zen Toniq uses a blend of nine extracts to promote a calm and relaxed feeling.