When we attended the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Strategy Congress in Barcelona, we also got to taste some continental drinks from Europe that are not available at home in the UK. There were two that we found particularly interesting: Caliente from Sweden and UmaiCha from Spain. They are different drinks, but with one important thing in common – lack of excessive sugar.
Caliente comes in a range of four flavours: Ginger lime chili, Blueberry lemongrass chili, Cranberry pomegranate chili, and Plum rosemary chili. You can already see what the common ingredient is: chili. The four different flavours have different levels of chili heat, all combined with spicier or sweeter ingredients as well.
We didn’t test this theory, but we believe they would go together really well with food – and in fact the Caliente website has plenty of food pairing ideas. Caliente have also teamed up with “Sweden’s best bartenders” to come up with plenty of cocktail ideas, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
What sets Caliente apart from most soft drinks though, is the fact that it is not very sweet at all. In fact, the dryness is really noticeable, making these drinks very much an adult, grown-up choice. They are a perfect example of what we call a “sippable” drink: something you won’t just gulp down quickly, but will take your time to savour slowly.
Caliente comes in 250ml glass bottles. And the name means “hot” in Spanish!
The same dryness is a feature of UmaiCha tea drinks too. These are not your usual iced teas. In fact, their only ingredient is tea (and very small amounts of ascorbic acid and sodium bicarbonate, less than 0.1%). They contain no sugar or no sweeteners of any kind.
The three UmaiCha flavours are different types of Japanese tea: Houji Cha (a roasted green tea), Ryoku Cha (green tea) and Genmai Cha (green tea with roasted rice). All three have their own specific taste, with plenty of good-for-you antioxidants as well. The name UmaiCha means “Delicious Tea” in Japanese by the way.
UmaiCha comes in 500ml plastic bottles, and would make a great drink to pair with food, or to sip slowly to take in all the subtle flavours of the teas.
Neither UmaiCha or Caliente are currently available in the UK, but both can be found in several countries in Europe and purchased online (from the Caliente online shop and UmaiCha online shop – but check first whether they deliver to where you live!).