Not the sort of sentence you'd expect to hear very often but this is a stunning new beverage created specifically to pair well with food and as an alternative to traditional wines.
Let us introduce you all to...
In order to find out more about this new drinks brand, we chatted with the team at Saicho about their journey. Check out what they have to say about their unique beverage products and get to know more about these budding entrepreneurs...
We are always curious to find out more about the people behind the brands - Could you give us a bit of background about yourselves?
Saicho was started by my partner, Natalie, and myself (Charlie). We have always been passionate about food and drink, so much so that we met whilst doing PhDs in Food Science. We love discovering new food experiences and a large part of that is food and drink pairing. However, Natalie can't drink alcohol and turns as red as a tomato with even the smallest sip, so she always missed being able to fully enjoy the experience of food and wine pairing.
Saicho are a range of sparkling cold-brewed teas that pair well with food. We source single
origin teas – not blends – so that you can experience the unique flavours of each tea.
The idea for Saicho came when we were enjoying a delicious meal at a restaurant. The waiter came to the table and described the plate of food in front of us. The sommelier then came over and described the wine to Charlie; the country of origin, the terroir, the production techniques and why it paired well with the food. Meanwhile, Natalie sat with the same glass of water throughout the meal, missing out on the full experience.
At that time, there were no non-alcoholic drinks that paired well with food, had the complexity
of flavour and any noteworthy origin. With that in mind, we created Saicho, so anyone that
chooses not to drink alcohol no longer needs to feel left out, whether eating in a fine dining
restaurant, enjoying a drink at a wine bar or just at home with friends and family.
How have you created the products and the brand and what makes Saicho different?
We created Saicho so that all those that choose not to drink alcohol can still have a delicious drink that pairs well with food. We chose tea because of the incredible variety of flavours from floral to fruity, nutty to smoky, all dependent on their variety, terroir and production method.
By cold brewing, we extract the most delicate and complex flavours from the tea leaves, whilst sparkling the tea makes it the perfect accompaniment to many types of food. We only use the highest quality, single-origin teas, letting their unique flavours shine.
Our Darjeeling is a black tea that is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. The high altitude means that the tea leaves grow slowly and develop a fruity, muscatel flavour. It has notes of mandarin, ginger and wood spice and gentle, dry tannins makes it incredibly food-friendly and an ideal accompaniment to grilled pork or a hearty lasagne.
Hojicha is made by roasting second flush Sencha green tea which turns the tea a deep reddish-brown colour and produces savoury, toasted nutty flavours. It has a unique savoury flavour with notes of nori seaweed, roasted hazelnut and delicate smoke making it the perfect pairing for mushroom risotto and or oxtail soup.
Our Jasmine green tea is scented with jasmine flowers which gives it a delicate floral aroma while the green tea provides the structure to the drink. The sparkling tea has notes of apple sherbet, lychee and vanilla, making it a refreshing aperitif. A touch of sweetness and the slightly chewy tannins make it a great alternative to Moscato d’Asti to accompany desserts like peach melba, elderflower jellies or panna cotta.
Where do you see the business and the brand, in terms of growth and product development, over the next year or two?
We are really excited about the next couple of years. We have some new product launches happening very soon.
Watch this space!
Designed to be served chilled in a champagne flute, Saicho sparkling teas are the ideal
alternative to champagne or prosecco for luxurious, but light lunches, paired with dinners,
or as the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea. Saicho is available in a number of 5-star
hotels in Hong Kong including the Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, the Murray, Ritz Carlton,
Grand Hyatt and W Hotel. In the UK, Michelin starred Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham
have developed a seven-course alcohol-free pairing menu, using all three Saicho
expressions. Saicho is also available online at the Whisky Exchange and Saicho’s own
How do you motivate yourself when you’re having a bad day?
My new way of motivating myself is spending a couple of minutes playing with my baby girl.
Seeing her smile somehow magically makes any bad day better and puts me back on track
for the day.
How do you celebrate a win or a successful pitch/sale/contract/tender etc?
A great meal.
Talk us through your morning routine?
With a 2-month-old baby, morning routines have rather gone out of the window!
Coffee … Decaf or full-on?
Definitely full on!
Cocktails, Champagne or Alcohol Free?
I do love Champagne. Natalie enjoys exploring all the exciting new Alcohol-Free drinks coming out.
Favourite place to dine out for a special occasion?
We love exploring new restaurants, but a place that is close to our heart is an amazing
a family-run restaurant in Nottingham called Sukho Thai.
Best book/podcast recommendation for aspiring entrepreneurs?
We really enjoyed listening to the 'Start Up' podcast when we were first launching Saicho.
Our favourite podcast at the moment is the fantastic Science VS.