Hailing from the UK, premium sparkling tea brand Saicho is now available in Singapore through an exclusive distributorship with Crystal Wines.
Positioned as a non-alcoholic alternative to beverages like champagne and prosecco, Saicho is the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Charlie and Natalie Winkworth-Smith.
Both food scientists by profession, they turned their expertise towards creating an alcohol-free, complex adult beverage as Natalie couldn’t consume, but didn’t want to be left out of food-and-wine pairing experiences and occasions that called for popping bubbly.
Tea, they found, was the answer, as it not only had depth and breadth of flavour but also a culturally rich reservoir to draw from. Like wine, the terroir of tea matters too – time of harvest, geographical region, level of rainfall, and the amount of sunlight all crucially affects the profile of the leaves.
Of course, the production process matters plenty too. Using single origin tea – Darjeeling black tea from India, Hojicha roasted green tea from Japan, and Jasmine green tea from China – cold brewed for 24 hours, they achieved a delicate brew with enhanced aromatics and better-balanced astringency.
The result is a more complex flavour profile, enhanced by sweetness and acidity, that pairs very well with food. Then, giving it a sparkling touch, adds a refreshing effervescence and satisfying mouthfeel to the beverage.
There are three labels in their core range to choose from, one created from and named after each of their single origin teas. The Darjeeling has a unique muscatel flavour, with notes of mandarin, ginger, and wood spice, plus gentle and dry tannins.
The Hojicha meanwhile has a deep umami character with notes of nori, roasted hazelnut, and soft smoke, rounded out by dry and woody tannins. Finally, the Jasmine is aromatic and floral, with notes of apple sherbet, lychee, and vanilla, and is best drank as a first drink of the night.
It’s interesting as well, given Saicho’s positioning as a non-alcoholic alternative to champagnes and proseccos, that they’re not frowning on tipplers, but are also encouraging use of their sparkling teas as a cocktail ingredient.
It makes sense, given the already complex flavours and carbonation inherent in their product, that bars can easily find ways to incorporate Saicho into their menu. In fact, their website offers plenty of ideas and recipes for bartenders to try.
Saicho is available online (S$35/bottle) or at venues like Goodwood Park Singapore.
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