Born in Madeira, raised in Sydney, living in Melbourne and dreaming of Bali...
Published August 14th 2020
I don't know about you, but I have indulged a little too much on wine and spirits since this whole Coronavirus thing started...
Don't get me wrong - I still enjoy a nice wine or a Negroni at the end of a busy day, but I have probably enjoyed a few too many recently and I'm beginning to notice some soft, squishy bits forms around my middle!
Sometimes I wish there was something else I could drink, that still felt a bit special without the alcohol or sugar content.
While there are lots of alcohol-free beer and wine options around, they're either sickly sweet (wine) or lack that original flavour (beer) - I guess I just haven't found one that I really like yet!
So, I have been actively looking around and trying some alternatives. Basically, I'm looking for fun and tasty drinks that still provide a sense of occasion.
Here's what I have found so far:
1. Kombucha - is a fermented tea drink that is filled with living probiotics, made using a SCOBY - an acronym for 'symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast'. Known to be good for your gut, kombucha is a lightly effervescent, sweetened black or green tea drink that is often flavoured with fruits or berries.
It does contain a very small amount of alcohol as a by-product of the fermentation process. I quite like the sweet and acid/vinegar flavour but I know it's not for everyone. You can find Remedy brand kombucha just about everywhere now, but do check the sugar content and explore some other less sweetened/popular brands like Mailer McGuire Kombucha and Wild Kombucha by Ballsy Brewing.
Enjoyed: from lunchtime onwards due to its strong vinegary taste. I don't think it really pairs well with any specific food and I choose to drink it on its own - instead of a beer or wine on a Friday.
2. Home-made iced tea - most bottled iced teas are packed full of sugar and not very good for you at all, that's why I prefer to make my own. It's super easy - just buy some fruity tisane tea bags or loose leaf tea and brew a big jug of it as you normally would. Let it cool down and then pop it in the fridge to enjoy over the coming day or two. You can also use simple green or black tea, and ad a sweetener like honey or fresh mint if you need it.
I brew fresh a batch of tea every 2 or 3 days and make sure I always have a jug available in the fridge. The greatest thing about home-made iced tea is that you can always add vodka or gin and a slice of lime or orange if you feel like a cheeky tipple! You can also add chopped berries and fruit to the jug to make it look pretty - think Sangria minus the alcohol!
Lots of loose leaf tea brands now offer good quality ice-tea mixes (a sticky blend of loose leaf tea and dried fruits) ready for you to brew, including T2, The Rabbit Hole Tea and Tea Garden Co among many others. Once again lookout for the sugar content as some of these mixes may be packed with loads of sweeteners.
Enjoyed: at any time of day from breakfast through to the evening. It may be a bit too sweet to accompany meals but goes well great with snacks like popcorn for a midday treat.
3. East Forged - these innovative new drinks are a mix of tea and beer. In fact, they look just like a beer - but taste like tea! Made using cold-brewed black, green and white tea these drinks are injected with exotic fruit for a touch of sweetness and Nitrogen to create a bubbly effervescent look and that frothy, beer-like head.
I don't like overly sweet drinks so, I love the dry, crisp and refreshing flavour of East Forged drinks. But the best thing about these guys is the super low sugar content and it's low in calories too. I think these cold-brew nitro infused drinks could be the yummiest and healthiest alcohol-free alternatives available right now - and they've just been made available through Dan Murphy's online!
Enjoyed: in the afternoon or evening, pair these drinks with cheese and crackers for a savoury taste sensation! Because of its subtle dry flavour (like a good wine), it goes well at BBQs, with burgers, salads, pizzas - just about anything really.
4. Ginger Beer - is (not a beer at all!) traditionally a beverage made using the natural fermentation of the real ginger spice, yeast and sugar but modern ginger beer is now carbonated instead, making it a soft drink. As a lover of all things spicy and ginger flavoured, I do enjoy the flavour of ginger beer especially on a really hot day as a thirst quencher!
You can find popular Aussie brand Bundaberg Ginger Beer in most supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations, but there are lots of other tasty, low-cal and traditional options from brands like Strangelove and CAPI.
Enjoyed: later in the day due to its fizzy nature, like Kombucha it doesn't match well with food, especially the really fiery ginger versions - so maybe keep this as a drinks only option.