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150ish is a free weekly newsletter that brings you all the dish on local food artisans working within 150 miles–more or less–of New York City.

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A non-alcoholic sparkler that actually tastes good

Töst takes tea to a whole new level

August 16, 2018 | Photo courtesy Töst

Our love of sparkling beverages is endless—whether it’s good old-fashioned seltzer or a can of LaCroix (we like the grapefruit), nothing makes a drink more refreshing than a bit of bubbles. And Champagne and cider are great for even the most casual celebration. But recently 150ish has discovered a sparkling beverage that’s full of flavor and completely free of alcohol—with equal amounts of fun and sophistication. The cleverly named Töst recently won a SOFI award from the Specialty Food Association for New Product: Cold Beverage–Ready to Drink and we think it’s a great way to toast the end of summer.
 
Here’s the dish. Our experience with last summers taste sensation, Keepers coffee soda, and the Owls Brew line of tea-based cocktail mixers, should have prepared us for Töst, but this new drink is surprising on so many levels.
 
First there’s the taste: an artful blend of white tea, white cranberry, and ginger, it’s fruitier than a flavored seltzer, but with a gentler carbonation. And it’s dry, not sweet, which makes it perfect for sipping solo or as a mixer for alcohol (there’s only 16 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce serving).
 
Then there’s the beautiful bottle, available in both 750-ml size as well as 12-ounce single servings. Combined with its sophisticated label design, this is a bottle you’d be proud to gift any hostess.
 
We spoke with Brooks Addington, the company CEO, about how Töst came to be. He notes that the company started in Red Hook, Brooklyn (where it is still based), but is now bottled in Pennsylvania, while the management team (including Brooks) is based in southern Vermont. Having spent most of his career in financial services, primarily in Tokyo, Brooks was primed to see the benefits of a tea-based beverage.
 
“In Japan, I was always struck by how diverse and vast their beverage section was. You’d walk into your average market and there’d be 45 teas,” he says. “There’s green tea, jasmine tea, English tea, lemon tea, peach tea, and on and on and on. When you come to the States you have the same stuff all the time. So I’ve always thought that there is such a big market for beverages here—to provide something new and different into the marketplace.” Returning home to Vermont and meeting the team who initially developed Töst, Brooks fell in love with the beverage; he is now majority shareholder and runs the company.
 
And make no mistake, this is a product that was seriously developed. The team began an extensive research period in 2014, pulling in such tastemakers as Alfred Portale, the James Beard award–winning chef behind the legendary Gotham Bar and Grill, who served as their taste conductor. “We wanted a product that was inclusive, to have the attributes of an alcoholic beverage, but not necessarily any alcohol. And we wanted it to have a nose and a finish and a stringency to it,” Brooks relates. “We went through several iterations until we came up with what we have today.”
 
Launching formally in 2017, Brooks is particularly proud of the inclusive nature of the product, which can be enjoyed by children (who want what the grown-ups are having) and adults who, beyond the great taste, want to go alcohol free. And because Töst is simply carbonated and not fermented, there’s no trace of alcohol whatsoever, unlike some non-alcoholic brews.
 
Testing is now in progress for two new flavors, to be added to the line in 2019, and Brooks hopes to eventually bring the flavors up to four. As they expand, they’re also putting more emphasis on the low-sugar, high-flavor quality that Töst brings to mixed drinks, both with and without alcohol.

So cheers to Töst! A great addition to year-round sipping.
 
Töst is available for online ordering at tostbeverages.com, or visit the site for a list of retailers nationwide.
Copyright © 2018 150ish. All Rights reserved.
425 East 63rd Street, Suite E7C, New York, NY 10065

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