Coconut Flower Nectar
It seems like all of a sudden, there are a hundred different plant-based cane sugar-alternative sweeteners on the market (in the western world, I mean. People around Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Polynesia have been using these cane sugar substitutes for centuries! You’re welcome.)
We still love our Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey, for its robust complex flavour and the positive environmental effects beekeeping has on food production and in deterring logging in virgin Tasmanian forests. We will continue to support the industry by using Tasmanian Leatherwood honey in our original Sticky Chai Blend. However, as an environmentally-conscious company, we know that going vegan is one of the best things one can do for our planet.
In developing our new Sticky Vegan Blend, the challenge for us was to find a substitute for honey that:
- Has a complex and robust flavour profile, all on its own,
- is sustainably produced, and
- is ethically produced.
Agave, Maple and Rice Malt syrups were the obvious choices and most Chai companies uses one of these sweeteners for their plant-based sticky blends.
Agave production is rife with human rights issues, which are predominantly driven by corporate greed. Sounds familiar? Read our article on Modern Day Slavery and Chai to learn more. Moreover, the environmental impact of agave production due to the need for irrigation schemes to supply water to arid regions, and the subsequent destruction of biodiversity in those regions, is questionable. Ethics and sustainability aside, agave syrup – and let’s be honest here – tastes like liquid cane sugar. It has perhaps a slight fruity herbaceousness, but it’s a far cry from the bold complexity one would expect from The Chai Villain.
Then there’s maple syrup, which tastes like MAPLE. There’s no getting around that. It tastes great on pancakes but its overpowering flavour profile completely upsets the balance of our spice blend. And in the case of rice malt syrup, like agave, it tastes like cane sugar but with an unpleasant lingering bitterness that we just don’t need in our Chai.
Same issue with Monk Fruit Extract, Erythitol and Stevia. Sure, they’re good for you calorie-counters, but that aftertaste is just garbage.
Enter Coconut Flower Nectar, which is derived from the sap collected from the coconut tree blossom. Its low GI of 35, and low fructose content of 10% means that it has been recommended as being suitable for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes. Coconut nectar is a sucrose-based sweetener and is thus a good option for people with fructose sensitivities. It is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
From a sustainability standpoint, coconut palms grow in diverse, wildlife supportive, agro-ecosystems. They help restore damaged soils and require little water for production. Coconut palms produce an average of 50-75% more sugar per acre than sugar cane, which makes it a far better use of land.
Coconut Flower Nectar varies in flavour depending on the producer, and having sampled many different varieties, The Chai Villain has partnered with a fellow Australian small business – Coconut Magic.
We love the flavour of Coconut Magic’s coconut flower nectar because it is well-rounded, bold, and incredibly complex. Its sweetness is not clawing; rather it is balanced with strong florals and an almost salty tartness that is exciting and invigorating.
Coconut Magic’s Founder, Jenni, has very close ties with their farmers in Thailand and shares The Chai Villain’s ethos for equity and transparency by ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions and the eradication of modern day slavery in supply chains.
We are confident you will enjoy the flavour profile of our new Sticky Vegan Blend, and no, you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy it (go on. We won’t tell anyone).