Feature image credit: Botanical Lab
What do companies mean when they talk about health drinks? Are they going to magically turn us into superheroes like they suggest or just shoot us with a sugar rush? Botanic Lab says they're the future of health drinks, believing their products naturally stimulate you.
Founded in 2015 by city banker turned entrepreneur Rebekah Hall, Botanic Lab is the new kid on the block when it comes to health drinks, guaranteeing that their drinks are "functional by nature not merely by name". Using only natural, raw and sometimes racy ingredients, the 'health drinks' are designed to elevate your day by proving whatever is it you need. If you're looking for a pick me up at work you can grab a can of Mellowdrama or if you're looking for something more calming during the evenings then you can try a Latin Lover.
This year Botanic Lab launched their new and exciting cold-pressed juice drink, Dutch Courage. The drink contains, Hibiscus, Green Tea, Sour Cherry and Cannabidiol, using the CBD for its anti-inflammatory, relaxing and mood-enhancing properties, it's dutch courage with a difference. You can find Botanical Lab's products online or at selected retailers such as Co-Op, Holland & Barretts, Waitrose, Selfridges and even at some gyms.
Photo credit: Botanic Lab
We spoke to founder Rebekah Hall to find out more about the new and exciting world of functional drinks.
1. Can you give us a general idea about what Botanic Lab is all about?
Botanic Lab make "drinks that do something". Functional drinks that are inherently healthy (natural ingredients, no sugar etc), but that's not the most interesting thing about them. We use natures most exciting functional plants to add a layer of complexity and intrigue to our drinks.
2. Why did you start the company?
I had an entrepreneurial itch and I'm also a massive health cynic. There is a common thread in healthy food and drink marketing - it focuses on virtue signalling to guilt the consumer into the purchase. In response to this, Botanic Lab aims to provide an alternative purpose. One that is realistic, exciting, and acknowledges the diversity of our customer and the occasions on which they purchase a soft drink.
3. What inspired you to create a company that focused on drinks?
Drinks are really accessible and convenient way to experiment with food and drinks and new and exciting ingredients. If we are going to use some of the most exciting natural ingredient on the planet, we want to get them into a format that people want to buy. I'm also a drink snob. I love interesting alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and I was bored with the childlike marketing of soft drinks - I wanted to flip it on its head.
4. How long did you spend in designing and experimenting with flavours before going onto the market?
This is a constant process. If you are going to be a pioneer in an industry you have to keep innovating and can't stand still. Almost all of the products we launching with don't exist in the same form any more. The brand and our products have evolved with our customers.
5. What made you realise there was a gap in the market for your drinks?
Trends in food and drink often cross the Atlantic and the kind of drinks that we produce have often started as a seed of an idea in the USA. The launch of our first to market CBD beverage in 2018 was a response to the growing cannabis culture and shift in view and perceptions of cannabis. It's more than a trend. Cannabis 2.0 is the rebirth or attitude towards this amazing plant and the culture that surrounds it.
6. Do you create each drink to have a purpose? Is each individual drink good for you in its own way?
Each drink centres around a unique botanical ingredient (which in turn has a purpose). The botanicals that we select must have real function, deep heritage and some cultural significance around the globe
Photo credit: Botanic Lab
7. What do you mean when you describe your products as ‘health drinks’?
I don't often describe our products as health drinks as don't think that this captures the essence and complexity of what we are creating. Health is intrinsic in what we do, which is common in so many products on the market. It is a key consideration in most industries, but what we do is about function, flavour and excitement. Alcoholic beverages have been the standard bearers of brand excitement for too long and now it's the turn of the softs!
8. How do you decide what new botanic to experiment with? For example, you have just launched your Dutch Courage drink with CBD, why did you choose CBD?
Cannabis (and CBD being a component of that) is one of the most interesting and unique plants on the planet. It's famous for so many reasons and that heritage alone makes in an ideal candidate for inclusion in a Botanic Lab drink. Layer on top of that the therapeutic uses and functional benefits of CBD and it was always a botanical that we wanted to work with. It optimises our ethos.
Photo credit: Botanic Lab
9. Have you always found flavour combinations interesting?
I find it interesting that flavour complexity and flavour profiles is such a key part of the culture around alcoholic drinks, but has never been a focal point in soft drinks. The market has been dominated by sugary drinks with artificial ingredients and any "healthy" alternatives are unpleasant. That's why unique flavour combinations sit at the heart of our drinks.
10. Would you like to expand and move on from drinks to other health-enhancing products such as supplements or energy bars?
The brand ethos and focus on functional ingredients certainly applies to other products outside of drinks. Watch this space!