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Jun 2, 2007 10:49 PM

Food trends: the next Pomegranate?

I'm wondering, Pomegranate in it's many uses has been so "trendy" for a while now, what do you, fellow Chowhounders, predict will be the next craze? Will it be Mangosteen for it's antioxident qualities? or Pear for the delicious flavored vodka martinis that can be made? the posibilities are endless...

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  1. Teas seem to have taken a foothold in the region of the minds of many as being a great alternative with health benefits to coffee. Rooibos and Yerba Mate are becoming more and more popular, and things with the extracts from green and white teas are becoming very mainstream.

    Salts from exotic locales have grabbed alot of attention lately amongst foodies as well... Rock salts from the Himalayas, sea salts from the Big Island - where next? They all have their specific qualities and provenance. Some are better with fruits, others with meats... some with a particular cuisine, and so on...

    1. Acai, acai and acai.

      To bulavinaka's post, coming from within the food industry, coffee isn't going away. Especially not at the top end. If anything, more people are going to learn to appreciate the nuances of a good quality black coffee. I actually think it's the other way around regarding teas. Roobios is fine on occasion, but I don't know if it'll grow in popularity faster than white teas and better green teas as a standalone beverage. Roobios will more likely be found as an ingredient (hey kids, it's got ROOBIOS too!) than on its own.

      IMO, Yerba Mate won't cross into the mainstream, at least not as traditional Yerba Mate. Too funky and earthy for the common palate. Somebody will need to package and junk it up like all the phony oversweet excuses for Chai that are out there. Once it's a soda pop or a creamy shelf stable drink in a carton with cute labelling and a lot of HFCS added, then it'll have a chance.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Panini Guy

        Taste is very individual. I have tried several types of roobios and still can't drink it. It has an aftertaste that bothers me for some reason.

        I like green yerba mate but much prefer it mixed with other ingredients as in Teavana's Spiced Nut Mate which has roasted Mate leaves, cornflower and sunflower petal, orange peel, coriander, pistachio and macadamia Nuts, with red peppercorns. It's absolutely delicious. No need to make it into a sugary drink.

        1. re: Panini Guy

          Hey Panini Guy, it's always great to get insight from someone in the industry... I wasn't referring to coffee going away - it's a forgone conclusion that Americans want better coffee after drinking the swill from percolators for decades... I was referring to teas becoming an alternative for many in general, with rooibos and yerba mate being amongst those that have stepped in now where green tea and now chais and white teas were before... Thinking back to my childhood, my parents drank green tea. Outside of that, you couldn't find green tea anywhere except in some Japanese restaurants and Japanese food stores. No one would consider drinking green tea because it was too bitter for the average American palate at the time and frankly too strange in the mindset of the Wonder Bread generation. Yet now, major food manufacturers are capitalizing on the various qualities of teas, and the profuse abundance of the many teas used in various forms nowadays (at least here in LA) boggle the mind. I know coffee will never be replaced by teas (think cola vs. all other soft drinks , where coffee is cola and all other soft drinks are teas) but it's amazing how many folks are consuming teas in so many forms now. When you see truck drivers sipping Lipton iced white tea while driving down the road, you know the general mindset has changed. I know you've mentioned you're in the food industry, and as you know from the past, never never discount what trend will be coming down the pipe next... and as you know, when the dumbing down of one food item occurs, it's well beyond the time to find another...

          As much as I've enjoyed acai in the form of fresh fruit drinks offered by local juicers, it seems to be in a holding pattern for now... A great barometer for determining popularity of new food items is Trader Joe's - the purveyor of "gourmet" foods and all new edibles to the masses. While they have tried introducing acai to its customers, I don't see it catching on yet - after the initial introduction in the form of drinks, it hasn't increased in presence. Maybe after a few well-timed reports on further study results, it will get a renewed interest by the public-at-large. Everyone always wants an excuse to eat or drink something as long as it tastes good, and it has the double-dose of great nutrients as well. Acai fits this profile - someone just needs to offer it in a more familiar setting - maybe in place of a tart filled with blueberries, one could offer it with acai? Or a vanilla ice cream with a swirl of acai instead of raspberry? Is sourcing an issue? Teas are ideal for sourcing since they are a dried commodity that is very light. I'm guessing for a major manufacturer, acai would arrive from South America in the form of a frozen pulp, or does it come in the form of preserves or even a dried form?

          1. re: bulavinaka

            I would have said acai too. It has the health cache, but quite frankly it doesn't taste that good. It has a prune/blueberry taste with a gritty texture which Haagen Daz describes as 'pear texture'. They have acai sorbet in their new line and it is really awful with too strong an acai flavor.

            1. re: rworange

              Last summer, Starbucks was selling acai as one of their tea/juice blend flavors and if was one of my absolute favorites. However, I must have been the only one as it went the way of the dodo within a couple months. It seems that pomegranate was more popular (suprise!) and they axed acai because they felt it was too similar.

              There's a company here in Austin that also does acai blends (kinda like an icee) but I have had trouble tracking them down. Last year they had a stand at ACL fest.

              1. re: ashes

                When used with tea, though I haven't tried it, my guess is that is a good match because it has a tea taste to it. You might like the Haagen Daz acai sorbet then. The tea flavor was off-putting to me. I like it when it is toned down. This Brazilian place near me made a drink with milk and acai. After getting over the shock of the color and texture, I liked that drink. However, it is no mango that is instantly likeable.

                1. re: ashes

                  Snapple's Red Tea line includes a version with acai in it.

            2. re: Panini Guy

              Interesting. Just went to restaurant this weekend in Dallas that featured acai as a mixed drink component. Hadn't heard of it before. . .

            3. absolut and grey goose already have pear vodka. pear martinis and sidecars made with belle de brillet were everywhere in boston last year. charbay put out green tea vodka almost 2 years ago. kiwi is overdone too.

              that's stuff already old, lol.

              yuzu seems to keep percolating under the radar.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I love the citrusiness of yuzu - my dad's friend in Norco was instrumental in bringing yuzu to the States... I think availability would be a major issue, as it's still a specialty citrus crop. It works alot like lemon - great seasoning agent, tasty zest, juice can be made into a pleasing cocktail... who knows - just about anything is game now in the US... When it shows up in a few forms that take at Trader Joe's, its time may have come...

              2. The rooibos popularity snuck up on me...I would never had thought that it'd become popular. I had it long ago as a tonic for the body, but my body certainly didn't take well to it. It hasn't got any distinguishing taste to me, either...Go figure. As for Pomegranate, it's a wonder that it became popular, too, as the ones I've had in the US generally don't have the great taste that it can have, as I found out only recently from eating them in China. Well, trends are obviously independent of taste. People can be persuaded to follow a trend if they think it's good for them.

                I hope pear continues to be more available though. I remember looking everywhere in NYC in 1998 for this pear liquor I had in Austria. To this day, still can't find it. Still only Pear William. There was one French made Pear Congnac (?) that I got once, but I don't think that's still there. Along the line of scents, I think the Osmanthus flowers can rather inviting, and less shocking than rose water, but then maybe i'm just more used to having it in Chinese desserts, and even tea (!)

                The next trend? Judging by how pleasantly surprised I was to have it as an option on a Chinese domestic flight, I'd say, Mulberry juice. Somewhere between prune juice and Acai, I think. Maybe not so much a trend as new options. For that matter I'd be happy if there were peach juices offered, too. In China, various types of fruit vinegar drinks are also quite popular. I haven't had a chance to sample them. And for the macho drinkers, there should always be the Chinese dark plum drink (wu mei tang). I'll take that over orange juice any day, any where, but especially on a plane.

                Actually I'm weary of this trend thing...the sudden awareness of Taiwanese high mountain tea made demand even higher, and quality lower. Sellers develop tea to cater to popular, and often uninitiated taste buds. The newer varieties of the light oolongs are unbalanced in the way of fragrance vs taste. Mainland China's light Tie Guan Yin is such example of fragrant hot water without depth, and unable to sustain more than one steeping. The Taiwanese is loosing ground. Instead of keeping its own tea making integrity, it is following that road, losing the subtle, unique tea taste....

                I hope the Taiwanese high mountain tea doesn't become too mainstream (probably won't unless they add sugar and vanilla...ugh..) I hope that they realize that there IS something different and terribly wrong that they are doing to get tasteless leaves these days...whatever that may be.

                1. I'll put in a word for lavender. Granted, I love it - sort of recently discovered it - so I'm more attuned to seeing/smelling/even tasting lavender everywhere. Here are four potential indicators of a lavender craze in the making:

                  - Pete's Coffee & Tea introduced a lavender Early Grey tea
                  - Coffee Bean & Tea leaf introduced a lavender mint tea
                  - One of the fancy schmancy chocolatiers' bars sold widely is lavender/milk choco
                  - My *dog* gets Dogswell Mellow Mut chicken strips, which are treated or otherwise made with lavender-and-hops. They smell so amazing I have been looking around for lavender chicken recipes for humans

                  And there's so much lavender going on in the scent world, with eco laundry detergents and cleaning supplies, etc. (There's very nice lavender which has a spicy could-go-with-meat-or-dessert scent, and then there's some awful, cloying lavender out there too - to say nothing of the fake lavender.)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Cinnamon

                    I got a lavender chocolate bar for Christmas - surprisingly wonderful.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      i'm wondering about regions and time travel of zeitgeist here. lavender ice cream and similar accompaniments have been on menus in boston at least 5 years, possibly 7.

                      much like clothing, i always figure when a major retail outlet picks up on it, it's already jumped the shark.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I certainly saw lavender creme brulee a couple of years ago ....

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I just had a lavender panna cotta last Thursday.