Just for a change, I’m not going to be talking about wine, rather something soft. That is, a soft drink made by a family business in one of the villages in the Tokaj region – Bodrogkeresztúr.
Some months ago a friend of mine gave me some Shrubbie to try. She brought around six cans for me to sample. I was a bit dubious as she described it as a soft drink based on Tokaj Furmint wine vinegar among other things. Now, I like sour things, I like bitter things, but I wasn’t too convinced about this idea, so they sat there in the fridge for a while before I tried one.
Well, a previous partner of mine had at one time turned his hand to brewing Kombucha himself, which I have to admit, wasn’t always very pleasant, although I did like the commercial variant – it was sour and vinegary and not something I enjoyed too much. I was rather expecting Shrubbie to be a bit like this. However, I was pleasantly surprised. I had the quince and lavender variation to try – two flavours I really like. It was, of course, slightly sour, but in an enjoyable way, not a gut-wrenching acidic fashion.
So what is Shrubbie anyway? The name implies it’s made from a hedge or something similar. Not too appealing at first contemplation. Well, actually, it’s a gently carbonated soft drink based on wine vinegar made from Tokaj Furmint, along with filtered water, apple cider vinegar aged on a bed of fruit and herbs (hence the name) and apple concentrate. If you like artisanal cider, you may well like this, and of course, for the health conscious, it’s got no alcohol and far less sugar, thus far fewer calories than your average soft drink. I must admit, I rather like it. I’m not really one for soft drinks as I usually find them too sweet and artificial, but this was really quite refreshing and certainly not overly sweet.
It’s totally natural and, of course, makes numerous health claims on the website, which I am always wary of, including helping to regulate blood pressure and fighting against oxidation and stress. Although the fact that it contains cider vinegar, which is always touted as being healthy, is certainly true, and it does of course contain antioxidants. Supposedly it’s also good for a hangover, which is probably true, given its ingredients. But I haven’t tried out that special beneficial property yet. Although I’ll be turning 50 quite soon, so may need a can or two the day after. However, whatever its alleged benefits, it’s certainly refreshing and pretty quaffable in the summer.
Since then, they’ve also launched some new flavours, which I got my hands on a few weeks ago – sour cherry and mint, the slightly wacky hemp and ginger, and raspberry and rosehip. Although it’s no longer summer and I don’t crave something cold and refreshing like this, I’ve been enjoying trying them after swimming, when in need of rehydrating with some non-alcoholic refreshment. Let’s see how many I need on the day after I make my half century!
If you fancy trying it out, you can order it directly from their website www.shrubbie.hu, where they also list stockists in Hungary. You may be in need of some after the holidays! Enjoy!
*photos courtesy of Shrubbie.