If you are looking for the perfect non-alcoholic drink to pair with food this autumn, then we have discovered just the thing for you. Saicho is a brand-new sparkling cold-brewed tea brand that may very well transform the way many of us pair non-alcoholic drinks with food as a sophisticated alternative to a wine pairing. Saicho comes in a range of three sparkling teas; Jasmine, Darjeeling and Hojicha, all three designed to be served chilled in a Champagne flute or coupe and come in beautiful 500ml bottles.
Saicho has been created by husband and wife team, Charlie and Natalie Winkworth-Smith, and came about out of their own desire to create a non-alcoholic drink that would pair well with food. Originally from Hong Kong, Natalie can’t drink alcohol, and turns as red as a tomato with just the smallest sip, so she has missed being able to fully enjoy the experience of food and wine pairing.
So Charlie and Natalie turned to tea as a solution, with its rich history and wide variety of flavours, from floral to fruity, nutty to smoky, influenced by its terroir and processing methods. And after two years of testing hundreds of different teas from around the world, they chose their first three teas; carefully selected to pair perfectly with food.
Saicho Sparkling Tea is cold brewed for 24 hours to extract the most delicate and complex flavours from the tea leaves, Saicho teas are then finely balanced with a hint of sweetness and a dash of acidity. Adding some fizz to the tea as a finishing touch, enhances the flavour and creates an effervescent drink that can be enjoyed as the ideal non-alcoholic alternative to Prosecco or Champagne.
The first of the three teas are Darjeeling, which is a black tea grown in the foothills of the Himalayas in Darjeeling, India, almost 2,000 metres above sea level. It is harvested in the summer months to develop its unique Darjeeling flavour and has notes of wood spice, nectarine and muscatel and a subtle astringency. This tea pairs particularly well with grilled meats.
The second tea is Hojicha, which originated from Kyoto in the 1920s as a way of utilising leftover leaves, stems, stalks and twigs. It is a roasted green tea grown in Shizuoka Prefecture and is today one of the most popular teas in Japan. The tea has notes of seaweed, roasted chestnuts and molasses. Hojicha pairs well with Asian salads and cured meats.
The third tea is Jasmine, which is scented with jasmine blossoms. This green tea comes from Fuding, in China’s Fujian province and has a rich creaminess and delicate floral aroma to it and is a light introduction to sparkling cold-brewed tea with a distillate of toasted oak adds notes of vanilla and spice. Jasmine pairs really well with creamy pasta or panna cotta.
There are many people who either cannot or choose not to drink alcohol and with the festive season just around the corner, Saicho Teas offer a perfect alternative for those who would still like to enjoy an elegant glass of bubbly with their meal. It is an ideal drink to enjoy with light lunches or paired with dinners, or to accompany an Afternoon Tea.
Saicho Tea retails at £8.99 a bottle and is available to purchase at www.saichodrinks.com or at Borough Box, The Whisky Exchange, Yumbles and The Artisan General Store.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Saicho