“Adaptogens are becoming more and more talked about in the US,” even though the science on how they work is “still coming in,” Tim Westwell told FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West in California this month.
He explained that in many ways adaptogens are like “magic ingredients” because they “seem to know what to do in the body and how to tell. So, if you need to be calm or relaxed or energized. It is really interesting.”
Pukka uses licorice as an adaptogen in several of its teas because it “is a great harmonizer,” but the ingredient to watch in the next few years is shatavari, Westwell said.
“You probably are going to see in the next year or two or three, the herb shatavari making a bigger and wider presence in the health food trade,” especially in women’s health products, he said, explaining that the root is colloquially known in India where it grows as “a hundred husbands” because it has hundreds of thin, shallow roots and provides a variety of benefits for women.
“It is good for menopause, good for fertility, good for cycles of the month as well as other benefits,” he said.
Pukka blends it with vanilla and hibiscus in a “sweet, soothing, calming” tea called Womankind, and the company ensures the ingredient, which takes 18 months to grow, is sustainably harvested, Westwell said.
Turmeric and matcha still reign
More immediate trends in tea that Westwell is monitoring are consumer demand for turmeric and matcha.
“More than 1,000 papers have been written on the benefits of turmeric,” including on heart and liver health, circulation, pain relief and inflammation, Westwell said. Plus, he added, “it tastes good.”
Pukka launched in the US about four months ago Turmeric Glow tea, which blends turmeric with green tea, tulsi and lemon for an “uplifting” beverage that simultaneously is savory and slightly sweet, Westwell said.
The company also includes turmeric in its Three Ginger tea, which has been a best seller in the US for seven years and speaks to another trend that Westwell says he has noticed, which is American’s long love of ginger.
Westwell cautions that as turmeric begins to appear in more products, including shots, smoothies and snacks, that manufacturers need to ensure they are using a high quality version of the ingredient.
“There is nothing worse than people taking something they think is good for them, and then not realizing the benefits because the quality that is there is not the best it can be,” he said, adding that Pukka “safeguards consumers” by providing organic certification and scientific support.
The company also offers a trio of matcha teas that offer unique benefits and added convenience compared to some other matcha products.
“Our leaf tea is called Supreme Matcha Green and it is a mix of sencha and matcha in a tea bag, so it is ready to go” and less messy than common powdered matcha, Westwell said. He also offered assurances that even though the matcha is in a tea bag, it still offers the same “amazing polyphenols” that matcha is known for which are not in other forms of green tea.
Pukka also combines matcha and turmeric for a one-two punch in its Clean Matcha Green tea, along with licorice, fennel and other cleansing ingredients.
The final member of the matcha trio is a Mint Matcha Green, which blends sencha green tea, spearmint, fieldmint and matcha.