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

It’s all Greek to tea
GREK Tea was created after founder Marina’s Greek mother brewed an herbal infusion for Marina’s husband, Stephan. Inspired by her concoction, Marina and Stephan built GREK, a tea brand that steers clear of Greek clichés, but instead creates interesting and delicious teas, including peppermint, lemon verbena, mountain tea, chamomile and its flagship paradeisia blend.

GREK imports the best herbs Greece has to offer, working with farming partners that have mastered the art of preservation using a combination of traditional techniques, passed down over generations, and modern practice for naturally preserved herbs.

For its teabags, only biodegradable material (made from starch) is used, from which the pyramid bags are made.

The GREK tea stood out immediately thanks to its eye-catching packaging – the team wasn’t surprised that it had been awarded a silver medal at the Best of British Awards 2018 for those boxes! The teas themselves were delicate, with interesting flavours, and intricate, fresh-tasting aromas. “I liked the little booklet that came with the tea too,” said our tester. “These would make really good gifts for anyone who loves a high-quality herbal tea.”

Juice up
Urban Cordial Company is shaking up the premium cordial offering in retail and for bars and restaurants with its locally sourced, low sugar range of cordials. The cordials are made by Londoner Natasha Steele, who created the brand after not being able to find a cordial to suit her taste.

In the beginning, Natasha foraged for her fruits and herbs, which has now become unsustainable, as the brand has grown. Now, the majority of fruit used in the cordials are ones the supermarkets don’t want – wonky, ugly ones, thus reducing wastage. They also have at least 50% less sugar than any other brand. This means the consumer tastes the fruit and not sugar syrup.
www.theurbancordialcompany. com

With flavours including Pear & Ginger, Blackberry & Lavender, and Apple Lemon and Fennel, it is clear these are no ordinary cordials. “I found these very interesting – the herb flavours were subtle but added a layer to the taste, and they also worked well in homemade cocktails – definitely a sophisticated and grown-up type of squash!”

Nothing but the fruit
British soft drink makers Cawston Press is tackling the Government’s sugar levy by using only pressed fruit juice to sweeten its sparkling drinks, despite fruit prices skyrocketing.

In the words of Cawston Press MD, Steve Kearns: “Cawston Press was started because we were frustrated by the lack of good quality soft drinks made from simple, natural ingredients, without the preservatives and artificial nonsense that give fizzy drinks a bad name. Artificial sweeteners just aren’t us and mask the taste of our delicious ingredients.”

The new range will consist of sparkling Rhubarb, Cloudy Apple, Elderflower Lemonade and Ginger Beer. Cawston Press will be the only brand in the UK market to sweeten their ginger beer using only pressed juice.

“I am so glad to find that there’s a company not adding artificial sweetener to its soft drinks,” exclaimed our tester. “I appreciate the need to reduce sugar intake, but question the benefit of increasing artificial ingredients instead – so Cawston’s new range is ideal for me. I loved all the flavours, but the Rhubarb stood out, as it is not only unusual, but had such a distinctive, genuinely natural flavour. Very impressed with both approach and products.”

Main grains
Tilda is bringing the healthy goodness of ancient grains to everyone with its new Tilda Super Grains range. Combining a variety of super food ingredients with carefully selected wholesome ancient grains, each of the five recipes combine unique textures and tasty flavours. Tilda Super Grains complement a host of main dishes and are a cinch to prepare, taking just two minutes to heat up in the microwave or three to four minutes to stir fry in a pan. The whole range is gluten free, vegetarian and suitable for a vegan diet. The five flavours:

  • Tilda® Super Grains Coconut with Quinoa, Brown Basmati & Wild Rice
  • Tilda® Super Grains Sweet Potato, Chilli & Coconut with Quinoa, Brown Basmati & Sorghum
  • Tilda® Super Grains Cranberries & Pumpkin Seeds with Pure & Brown Basmati & Millet
  • Tilda® Super Grains Ginger & Garlic with Brown Basmati, Red & Black Rice
  • Tilda® Super Grains Lime & Herb with Quinoa, Brown Basmati & Wild Rice

“These are such an easy addition to a meal, and I am keen to eat more grains too,” said our tester. “It’s great that Tilda have taken all the hard work out of preparing it for me, as I was a bit lost on how to introduce grains into my diet. I particularly liked the Lime & Herb variant – zingy, flavoursome and a nice nutty aspect from the quinoa.”

Super bars
Aduna has launched a new range of Superfood Energy Bars: its most functional product range yet. Made from dried fruit & nuts and powered by nutrient-rich African superfoods, the range has been designed to take African superfoods into the mainstream.

Developed in response to consumer and retailer demand for naturally healthy snacks with functional benefits, Aduna Superfood Energy Bars are 100% natural and contain no added sugar, preservatives, additives, gluten- or dairy-ingredients. Each bar is a source of fibre and at least two vitamins and minerals that support energy release – making them the only bars in their category with sufficient natural nutrition content to support a ‘superfood’ health claim. Packed with nutrients, bursting with flavour and with a delicious chewy texture, they are the perfect on-the-go pick-me-up.

The Aduna bars are available in three super flavours: Banana Boost with Baobab Superfruit, Berry Bite with Hibiscus Superflower, and Choc-Orange Burst with raw Cacao. “The bars African credentials were immediately highlighted in the packaging, and I was also impressed to read about how Aduna is a social enterprise, helping to create income for rural African households,” began our tester. “The bars themselves have a great chewy texture, and a brownie like appearance. The banana and berry options had good fruit flavours, but the Choc-Orange stood out for me – very good chocolatey and orangey taste, nice consistency so you feel like you’ve had a proper, satisfying snack, and really kept me full, so I liked it for breakfast. I would definitely buy again.”

All Riise
Born out of a frustration for the lack of convenient and nutritional breakfasts for people on the go, Riise offers a simple, healthy and streamlined way of making the most out of your mornings, regardless of your time and culinary limitations.

Riise’s vegan breakfast smoothies combine classic flavours with a modern twist to meet the needs of their growing audience. Using just six core ingredients, Riise has been purposefully built for breakfast, but can enjoyed throughout the day as a: late lunch, before or after the gym or even as a 4pm desk pick me up. Each bottle contains water, activated almonds, a variety of whole super fruit and vegetables, a dash of plant protein and the same amount of oats as a bowl of porridge. Riise has no added sugar, 10g of protein and a high level of fibre, well designed to be a healthy and filling meal.

Each ingredient is carefully sourced and selected for its nutritional benefits, before being put through Riise’s special process, which includes being cold pressed to deliver a completely natural product that can last in the fridge for up to a whole month.

“This made a lovely, chilled, breakfast drink,” said our tester. “It had a light fruity taste -I had the blueberrii, which was not too sweet, and it made me feel great to think I was having a 10g hit of good protein, whilst enjoying a satisfying flavoursome drink. I could taste the nutty almond milk and liked the grainy texture with the mixed oats. Yummy.”