While many tea drinkers are protective of their tea, wanting to taste its pure essence with no additions, others find themselves reaching for the milk and sugar, creating a creamier brew. The folks at Contra Coffee of Santa Ana, Calif. and other shops are exploring a way to provide that same creaminess without the dairy and calories.
Contra Coffee & Tea owner Paul Del Mundo hit upon the idea when he found that his body wasn’t tolerating the condensed milk he put in his Thai iced tea. He and his girlfriend Julie Nguyen had both studied food science at Cal Poly Pomona and thought they could create a tasty alternative. They recalled that they had tried a nitrogen-infused beer last fall and wondered if it could work for tea.
Nitrogen is a very dense gas that is not particularly water soluble. The way the bubbles act in the glass is different from how carbon dioxide performs. It adds a creaminess and an opaque quality and mellows out the flavors.
Companies like Guinness have been putting nitrogen in their drinks for decades and many craft breweries are following suit. (Guinness introduced their first in 1959.) Nitrogen-infused coffee has been making a name for itself, but not many have dabbled in tea yet.
“We tried to look at the process of the nitro and what it could do to other beverages so you can get that creamy texture without the added calories,” Del Mundo told The Daily Pilot. They flash brew their drinks and then dispense them from a tap.
The couple has been doing pop-up events since they launched their company in March. They do not yet have a storefront. They are currently offering nitrogen-infused Thai iced tea as well as coffee drinks.