Charlie and Natalie have always had a passion for food and drink. Now, husband and wife, they met whilst studying PhDs in Food Science. Unfortunately, Natalie can’t drink alcohol (she turns as red as a tomato with even the smallest sip) and as such, she hasn’t been able to fully enjoy the food and wine pairings that Charlie so loves.
This came to a head, one night in an upscale restaurant. With limited soft drink options, Natalie had to make do with her usual glass of tap water. Enviously, she watched on as Charlie was regaled with stories of far-flung vineyards and detailed advice as to which specific dish’s tones and textures were most enhanced by a particular vintage and whyIt was clear that Natalie was missing out on a huge aspect of the fine dining experience. So, this got them thinking; surely there could be a non-alcoholic drink with ingredients that possessed the same sort of complexity and heritage that wine does..
Hailing from Hong Kong, Natalie had grown up drinking tea with food so knew it could create the perfect pairing. With tea, it really matters at what point of year it’s harvested, the region it’s grown, its level of oxidation and the specific weather conditions of that particular season. Accordingly, you get a huge variety of different flavours from floral to fruity, nutty to smoky, candied to umami - all depending on the type, terroir and production method. Excited by this moment of inspiration, Charlie and Natalie enthusiastically threw themselves into the pain staking, 2-year process of sampling and experimentation. Having tested hundreds of different varieties from around the world they eventually settled on their first 3 teas.
You get a very different flavour cold brewing compared to hot brewing. It’s far more delicate, with enhanced aromatics and better-balanced astringency, creating a more complex flavour profile and mouthfeel which pairs perfectly with food. Saicho uses single origin tea, hand picking the exact varietal, time of harvest, location, terroir, altitude and processing methods. Rather than being bombarded by a mongrel of flavours, there’s a simplicity and purity to using single origin tea. Each individual tea is cold brewed for 24 hours, to extract the most delicate and complex flavours. The teas are then finely balanced by a hint of sweetness and dash of acidity. As a finishing touch, sparkling the drink enhances the flavour of the tea.
In 805, Saicho returned to his Japanese homeland from a lengthy Buddhist retreat in Tang China. With him he brought, not only, the knowledge of a strange and exotic drink that the Chinese monks would use to prolong and enhance their lengthy meditation sessions but also the source of this mysterious drink - tea seeds. Armed with this key meditational aid, Saicho founded the Tendai school of Buddhism. It was 5 long years from Saicho planting the first tea seeds in Japanese soil until the tea trees were ready to pluck but it was worth the wait! The Emperor Saga, on a visit to Saicho’s Sofukufi temple had one taste and loved it so much he immediately ordered tea trees to be planted in provinces all over Japan. From there the enthusiasm for tea in Japan exploded and is now considered a core part of Japanese culture.
Like our namesake, Saicho, we are on a mission to bring sparkling tea to the drinks receptions and dining tables of the world. Whether eating in a fine dining restaurant, enjoying a drink at a wine bar or just at home with family and friends we hope that our knowledge, passion, hard work and hands-on approach shines through in every glass.