The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drink

Nuts about natural ingredients
Gusto OrganicIndependent UK-based producer Gusto Organic has crafted a pair of all-natural colas that deliver to the classic and diet cola proposition; whilst re-introducing the original Coco Cola super ingredient – African Kola Nut.

The two new offerings are identifiably members of the cola family yet they are completely free of non-natural ingredients: So no phosphoric acid, no aspartame and not a hint of synthetic vanilla or petrochemical caffeine.

William Fugard MD Gusto Organic explains that: “Customers are drinking less carbonates but when they are choosing them, they are looking for something special, authentic, with a label free from chemical nasties. Gusto Organic Real Cola and Gusto Naturally Slim Cola are unashamedly premium treats.”

These colas are definitely a different breed to the usual runof- the-mill fizzy pop – using organic spices, essential oils and African Kola Nut mixed with Devon spring water, they are much fuller flavoured and have interesting characters. “These are very refreshing, and I loved that they are sweetened with organic Fairtrade Blue Agave and organic certified Erythritol (and organic Stevia in the Slim version) as I am trying to be much more aware of additives these days,” noted our tester.

Gently drift off
Sleep WellFor anyone who struggles to sleep in unfamiliar environments or at home, Sleep Well’s new milk drink could be a game changer. Delicious drunk warm or cold, vanilla Sleep Well is made with whole Jersey milk, honey and valerian, and is designed to be drunk as part of a bedtime wind down routine, 30 minutes before you want to sleep. The natural ingredients help to relax and calm your body and therefore drift off into a natural sleep. Designed with travellers in mind, the 200ml ‘sip & sleep’ cartons are perfectly sized for hotel vending machines, mini bars and premium in-flight services.

“Reading about the ‘first night effect’ in Sleep Well’s literature really struck a chord with me as I never sleep well when I am away from home,” said our tester. “While I had to test it in my own bed [FoodChain’s budget wouldn’t stretch for a night away to really get the full test experience!], I found the drink warm and comforting, and reminiscent of rice pudding – it was lovely to snuggle down in bed afterwards, and I did get to sleep quickly, and slept very well that night. I wouldn’t hesitate to take this away with me – it was really rich and soothing, and I don’t doubt it made me rest easier.”

Gin for the win
BrockmansBrockmans Gin, which stands out among the gin crowd thanks to its blueberry and blackberry notes, has created a Spring Summer Cocktail Menu, which all work to enhance its notes of bitter-sweet Valencian orange peel and coriander and other botanicals such as angelica, lemon peel, liquorice, almond and orris as well as, of course, Juniper berries.

All the cocktails are easy and quick to create, involving remarkably few ingredients yet creating complex and mouth-watering flavours. To help cocktail lovers achieve the perfect blend Brockmans website has a comprehensive recipe list online.

The Team were all keen to try the Brockmans, but the resident gin expert was nominated, and from all the different recipes, she was most impressed with the Brockmans Frosé, which includes the gin, rose liqueur, lemon juice, sweet rosé wine and ice. “I blended this all together to make a frozen cocktail and served to friends before dinner – what a treat it was!” she said. “However, I also loved the Brockmans as a simple, classic G&T – in a sea of new gins, the botanicals really made this stand out from the crowd.”

No compromise on taste
RachelsPerfect for both those who suffer lactose intolerance and those who are looking to reduce the amount of lactose in their diet, Rachel’s Organic now offers Lactose Free yogurts. Made using 100 per cent British cow’s milk and be available in two flavours; Strawberry and Natural, as with all of Rachel’s products, they are made simply and with care, using the finest organic ingredients and locally sourced milk for a gorgeously pure taste. Certified Organic by the Soil Association, there are no colourings, no artificial flavourings or preservatives added.

Taste Test team is never disappointed by Rachel’s yogurts and was keen to see how the Lactose Free offerings stood up to the rest of the range. As ever, Rachel’s quality shone through and the team was impressed with taste, texture and appearance. “I would think that anyone needing to reduce lactose would be delighted to find such a delicious and natural product available in the supermarket.”

Mother’s love
RaynersRayner’s has unveiled a range of five new organic, raw, unfiltered and unpasteurised vinegars and Organic Coconut Aminos. The Soil Associationcertified Organic range, which utilises raw, unpasteurised and unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar contains ‘the mother’ – the cloudy substance at the bottom of the bottle, that contains ‘good’ bacteria and natural enzymes and offers potential health benefits.

Products in the six-strong range include: Organic Raw Unfiltered Red Wine Vinegar with Mother, Organic Raw Unfiltered White Wine Vinegar with Mother, Organic Pomegranate Vinegar with Mother, Organic Raw Coconut Vinegar with Mother, and Organic Coconut Aminos.

“I love trying new vinegars and some of these were not only unusual flavour wise, but had the additional benefits of the ‘mother’ which I wasn’t familiar with,” said our tester. “Both the coconut and pomegranate vinegars added an entirely new flavour dimension to salad dressings and I’ve started adding them to other dishes too. The Coconut Aminos was also a great find – I’ve been using it instead of soy sauce and it adds a subtle flavour to stir fries and noodles.”

A different approach to tea
Little MiraclesThe Little Miracles ice-tea range has been refreshed and revitalised with a brand-new look. Little Miracles carefully selects the best of each of its ingredients and blends them into refreshing drinks and delicious, healthy snacks for customers to enjoy on the go.

Given that the company is inspired by Mother Nature, the new packaging designs depict fruits and flowers in an enchanting design, while Little Miracles quest for purity has led it to refine how it sweetens the ice-tea range – the pure blend of brewed icetea, infused with superfruit juice and active ingredients, is now sweetened only with agave. This gives the perfect amount of sweetness, and a cleaner taste. But, best of all, this means each blend has up to 56 per cent less sugar content and less than 70 calories in each bottle!

The Taste Test team found the Little Miracles products to be delicate and yet distinctive, with the latest flavour addition, Mate, Baobab and Ginger, catching one reviewer’s eye in particular: “I was intrigued by the use of Mate as I’d been reading about its health benefits, and I already love including ginger in my diet. And Baobab is now coming to light as a superfruit so this combination really appealed to me as a way to get all of these great ingredients into my system in an easy and delicious way! Definitely a Little Miracle.”

Totally beautiful tea
Benefit DrinksFor a true tea aficionado, JING tea offers its JING Explorer Sets, which are designed to inspire a deeper discovery of tea types, with loose leaf tea samples, expert information, and guidance on how to get the best from the teas. There are nine different sets to choose from, each with a comprehensive guide on origin, tasting notes, and how to make a fully balanced infusion.

The experience can be enhanced further with the JING One Cup Tea-iere – a perfectly proportioned and simple glass vessel with complete filter for easy tea-making. Add in the perfectly matched glass cup and saucer, and a tea break is elevated into a sophisticated retreat from the world.

JING’s herbal teas explorer comprises whole leaf peppermint, blackcurrant & hibiscus, whole chamomile, whole rosebuds, lemongrass and ginger. All of its herbal teas are picked whole and dried very slowly to retain essential oils, character and flavour.

“What a luxurious set of products – I couldn’t wait to get home and try them all out,” said our tester. “The cup and saucer were light and delicate, and being able to see the colour and smell the tea’s fragrance so clearly really enhanced the experience. All of the teas were fragrant and delicate, with wonderful aromas and ranged from refreshing to comforting. I loved the experience of making the tea – it felt super indulgent, a little deluxe moment to myself. I would definitely buy these as gifts for anyone who loves tea.”

Health in a glass
Untitled-9We all know about the requirements for ‘five-a-day’ in our diet and adding something tasty and healthy to your daily routine has been made easier with the launch of a new range of vitamin enriched juices: Benefit Drinks CLEANSE – Prune Juice (available in 100 per cent pure juice and NFC pure squeezed), VITALITY – Beetroot Juice, and ENRICH – Carrot Juice.

Made in the UK by family business Lovely Fodder Ltd, the Benefit Drinks range is bursting with flavour and have bundles of natural health benefits due to the power of the vegetables and fruits packed in each carton. The CLEANSE prune juice option has a light and refreshing taste, and has been designed to aid digestion and bone health, while the VITALITY Beetroot Juice has been blended with apple juice to deliver a rounded and earthy flavour, to aid stamina and improve circulatory health. Finally, the ENRICH Carrot Juice is blended with a hint of lemon juice delivering a sweet and tangy drink that is naturally rich in beta-carotene which supports both bone and skin health.

Furthermore, the whole range is enriched with vitamins A, C and E and provides 100 per cent of your recommended daily intake with every 250ml glass.

“These taste like I have just squeezed them myself!” our tester commented, very impressed with the natural taste of the new Benefit Drinks. The Prune juice was very well received by the tasters – fruity and quite mild tasting, it was a surprise hit; but all the options tasted very fresh and authentic: “I am sure I can feel this doing me good!” one tester exclaimed.

Grown-up twist
RobinsonsRobinsons has launched two new ranges, Fruit Creations and Fruit Cordial, in order to capture more complex and grown-up flavours, and offer a sophisticated twist to squash. To bring the very best fruit combinations together, Robinsons enlisted flavour experts to search the globe for almost a year and the result is a host of new flavours within two new ranges to reflect the nation’s changing tastes.

All of Robinsons squash and cordials are made with real fruit and contain no artificial colours or flavourings. Fruit Creations contains no added sugar, whilst Fruit Cordials combines a sugar and stevia blend.

New Fruit Creations flavours include Juicy Pear & Blueberry, and Rich Pear, Blackcurrant & Cherry with Barley; while Fruit Cordial flavours include Raspberry, Rhubarb & Orange Blossom and Crushed Lime & Mint.

“Squash is a lifesaver to me in the quest to drink more water as I find plain water so deadly dull,” said our tester. “And these new Robinsons varieties really raised the bar for taste and quality – super fruity, very authentic, natural tasting flavours and really lovely colours too – I particularly loved the Rich Pear, Blackcurrant & Cherry with Barley – quite an unusual combination but it works very well.”