Edible Innovation: All for Bamboo, All for Sustainability!

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Future Food Institute — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe.

From green tea to kombucha, the humble tea has been around for centuries. The health benefits of tea can range anywhere from detoxing to cancer risk reduction, and nowadays, people make tea from just about anything. So we know about the benefits of tea for our body, but what if we could do one better? What if we could not only heal ourselves, but also heal the environment and food supply chain in the process?

IGZU is a company disrupting the traditional tea industry, creating ready-to-drink (RTD) unique brews from one of the most sustainable crops on the planet: Bamboo. Co-founders and CEOs Courtney McCoy and Zachary Anderson started the brand with a desire to create a consumer packaged good that was both delicious and sustainable. Both being avid tea drinkers, they experimented with many different types of tea before settling on the light, floral nature of bamboo leaves. Although they were both experienced in the food and beverage industry, they were still met with many hurdles. One major problem was finding a bamboo leaf tea supplier who not only created 100% organic ingredients, but also provided the fair wage and transparency that are critical for a sustainable business. The creators ultimately set up their own supply chain and established an exclusive partnership with their sourcing farm, overseeing the process from wild harvest to shelf. They have even completed the cycle by donating 1% of all sales to charities working in sustainability and preservation such as The Ocean Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife. IGZU is a company devoted to 100% sustainability, not only in its product but also in its business model and community engagement.

Creating and optimizing the industry around bamboo enables us to tackle some of the most troubling issues affecting our climate and our planet. Modern agriculture today uses 70% of the freshwater available on the planet. The approach of many food producers is to genetically modified crops to use less water. However, IGZU has chosen to use a naturally resilient plant like bamboo, which can thrive without the destructive practices of irrigation or pesticides and is also highly resistant to drought. In the fight against greenhouse gases, bamboo is more efficient in converting greenhouse gases; when compared to say, a common hardwood tree, bamboo produces 35% more oxygen! Bamboo is also the fastest growing plant on the planet, meaning higher crop yield and less land wasted.

Not only is bamboo a sustainable product, but it also contains a myriad of health benefits which stem from its extremely high silica content (70% organic silica!). Silica is known to improve bone and connective tissue health, dental health, and aid in skin elasticity and nail and hair growth. For those that love green tea but are caffeine sensitive, IGZU may be the new way to go. The bamboo leaf tea tastes like a lighter green tea and contains similar antioxidants, but without any of the caffeine. Bamboo tea has been a part of Asian medicinal practices for centuries, but IGZU is pioneering its movement into the mass consumer sphere. The company blends the RTD tea with light floral flavors such as elderflower and lavender to make it more familiar and approachable to curious consumers. A tea that’s not only good for you but also good for the environment: this truly can be defined as the sustainable drink of the future.