With 2017 set to be the year of botanicals it's an exciting time for Botanic Lab as many of the ingredients that we champion come into the spotlight. Botanical complexity is at the heart of everything we do (the clue is in our name). We have relished the challenge of incorporating these powerful and interesting ingredients into drinks that will excite your taste buds. That's not always the easiest of tasks. In meaningful quantities, many potent botanicals have a challenging flavour and are avoided by mainstream food producers.
In this series of posts, we'd like to share with you some of our favourite botanical ingredients - the history, origin and traditional uses and give you an insight into the very special plants that we put at the centre of our drink creations.
Sea buckthorn (botanical name hippophae) is a spiny deciduous shrub native to the Himalayas and central Asia which has also recently found a home around Britain's coastlines, particularly in Scotland, thanks to its ability to thrive in colder climates.
Humans have been using sea buckthorn as a natural medicine for centuries. The ancient Tibetan Medicine text, the Four Tantras (618-907AD) lists as many as 84 prescriptions for its use. Reference to its uses can also be found in Ayuerveda and the Ancient Greek texts 'Enquiry into Plants' and 'On the History of Plants' (372 - 287BC) attributed to Aristoles successor, Theophrastus.
The ancient Greeks named the plant Hippophaë which translates as 'shining horse', hippo (horse) phaos (shining). Race horses were fed the leaves as they made the horses more robust, made their coats shine and were also believed to cure blindness in them. According to another legend, sea buckthorn leaves were one of the preferred foods of Pegasus (flying horse).
In the Himalayan mountain region, particularly Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan and China, local people gather the tiny sea buckthorn berries for their own medicinal use, graze animals on the forests whilst planting the shrubs to protect water channels and fence in their farmland.
Ghenghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire is said to have relied on three treasures: well organized armies, strict discipline and sea buckthorn. It was believed that sea buckthorn made Ghenghis Khan's soldiers stronger and much more agile than those of his enemies.
These may seem like large claims for a small fruit but the tiny orange berry really is a super food. Its nutritional profile contains 14 essential vitamins, omegas 3,6 & 9 and the rare omega 7, it contains almost everything the body needs to survive and provides more than the modest RDA of plant nutrition.
The sour fruit of the plant (which we use) is one of the most enriched plant sources of Vitamin C, in a range of 114 to 1550 mg per 100 grams with an average content (695 mg per 100 grams) about 15 times greater than oranges (45 mg per 100 grams). The fruit is densely packed with carotenoids, over 60 antioxidants and 20 different minerals, vitamins B (Folic Acid), B1, B2, B6, B12, B15, K, amino acids, dietary minerals, beta-sitosterol and polyphenolicacids. Sea buckthorn also has naturally occurring serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces positive effects in the brain
We pack 30 grams of the sea buckthorn berry into our TONIC 1, a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and omega fatty acids. We source sea buckthorn berries directly from Estonia, and cold press them in their raw state. Sea buckthorn and Siberian ginseng work in tandem in Tonic1. The abundance of Vitamin C helps make the phytochemicals in the Siberian ginseng more bio available (as does ginger, which we’ve included for the same reason). A complex little bottle with super natural powers.