Here at East Forged HQ we think both of these ingredients have their merits. You may not even realise that we use both nitrogen and CO2 in our East Forged nitro cold brew teas. Used in different measures they are intentionally introduced for a unique adult and considered drinking experience.
“What is Nitro?” and “Are Nitrogenated and Carbonated drinks the same?” – are two of the most common questions we get asked about our cold brew iced teas. So we thought it might be helpful to get a bit nerdy and explain what they are and the difference between them…
What are nitro drinks, such as nitro-tea or nitro-coffee?
Nitro or Nitrogen (has the symbol N and is number 7 on the periodic table) is a non-metallic, colourless, odourless and tasteless gas. It can be found in just about all living things, even the Milky Way. Don’t worry this blog isn’t a boring science lesson – just keep reading!
Nitro has been embraced by chefs and mixologists around the world, and used in a variety of food and drinks in recent years. In its solid form you may have seen it as dry ice on cooking shows like MKR or poured over a dessert or cocktail at your favourite restaurant or bar.
‘Nitro cold-brew coffee’ was even popular for a little while, but Nitro is NOT just a new fad! It’s actually been around for centuries, and is most commonly used to make the world-renowned Irish Guinness – find out more in this blog.
So, why haven’t you heard of Nitro before? Good question – and we don’t actually know the answer. What we do know is that adding Nitrogen to tea, coffee, wine or beer, creates small, delicate micro bubbles, that you experience as a thick and creamy texture, and visualise as a foamy head just like a traditional beer. We can only assume that everyone thinks a Guinness is made the same way as other beers, right?!
So, what are carbonated drinks (AKA fizzy drinks)?
Quick warning: more nerdy science info coming up, skip the next paragraph if you don’t care for that kind of stuff…
Carbon Dioxide or CO2 is a chemical compound made up of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. There are small amounts of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere usually as a result of man-made things like pollution (aka greenhouse gasses) but also from natural sources such as volcano fumes and cow farts. Plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, through a process called photosynthesis and that’s why we love trees!
If you check the ingredients list on a can or bottle of Coke, Sprite or Fanta you’ll be sure to find CO2 listed somewhere at the top. It’s this ingredient, when pressurised, that has been used for decades to make these popular drinks. Of course, the gas is made in a laboratory – and not bottled on the side of a busy highway, but many health experts still warn against drinking too many carbonated drinks, especially the overly sweet ones. Remember we are tea-lovers, not doctors so please consult your GP if you’re planning on making changes to your diet or would like evidence-based health information.
Just like Jacinda Adern and Scott Morrison or Lady Gaga and Michael Buble, Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen are total opposites. You see, CO2 is highly soluble, which means it dissolves well and is released slowly – this is what creates those large, hissing bubbles in your lemonade or soda water and it’s unique tart taste.
As nitrogen is inert - unlike CO2 (see below) - it does not react with water and no acid is created. This means the care we take to source and delicately cold brew our tea is preserved. The benefit to everyone is that our East Forged brews tastes like tea. You can read more about the history of nitro drinks here.
Why not sparkling tea on its own?
When CO2 dissolves in water a small amount of carbonic acid is formed. With acid comes a very distinct sour taste. The delights of tea reside in their delicate flavour profiles that once assaulted with a heavy dose of carbon dioxide results in all the fizz with little of the original flavour. The resulting tartness often requires masking with sugar or sweeteners. We preferred to work harder at achieving a better drinking experience for you whilst staying as close to the natural tea taste as possible.
Nitro-tea vs Fizzy Tea, both for us please!
So, Nitro or Carbonation - which one is better? The choice is ultimately yours, but we believe it comes down to your lifestyle, the taste and the kind of experience you hope to get from your drinks.
We had a blast experimenting with both of these ingredients in our top-secret tea lab, and were both surprised and thrilled to discover Nitro really helped enhance and bring our cold-brew tea drinks to life!
Here at East Forged we dialled back the CO2 but retained a very small amount to give our brews a lift that keeps them bright and refreshing. Let’s face it, all bubbles in drinks are fun! So whilst some people assume that our drinks are carbonated – you now know it's not entirely true.
But primarily it is the nitrogen in our cold brew teas that provides you an iced tea experience that will knock your socks off. All the flavour of tea without the sugar or artificial sweeteners!
While soft drinks are designed to be gulped quickly, Nitro drinks like our cold-brew teas are designed to be savoured and sipped. That’s why East Forged has been embraced by many people who follow the slow food movement, practice yoga and mindfulness and prefer plant-based foods and beverages.
Keen beans to try now, aren’t you? You can find our very popular and award winning 2-flavour 6-pack here.
Mia Ferreira is a Professional Writer, PR and Social Media Consultant and a dedicated Iyengar Yoga teacher based in Melbourne. She is currently enrolled in the prestigious Professional Writing & Editing course at RMIT - with the dream of becoming a published author on day. Mia is also a self-confessed tea addict!