A new energy drink uses Cornish ingredients and puts money back into our coastline

In ancient times, the leaves and young branches of sea buckthorn were fed to horses as a nutritious meal that led to healthy weight gain and a shiny coat. This is reflected in its genus name: Hippophae, derived from hippo (horse) and phaos (shining). Now you, too, can experience the same benefits of “seaberries” thanks to a partnership between a Cornish grower and a national drinks company.  

This hardy plant flourishes in conditions that would punish lesser species: the arid semi-desert sites of landlocked central Asia, and the salt-tinged coasts of western Europe. Seth Pascoe launched the Cornish Seaberry Company in 2016, and now grows thousands of trees each year, with orchards in Lostwithiel, Tywardreath and Veryan.  

Having worked with local tonic producers and launched his own brand of seaberry juice, this summer Seth embarks upon his most ambitious collaboration to date: providing Cornish seaberries to be blended with British apple juice and Cornish sea salt in a limited-edition flavour for TENZING Natural Energy drinks.  

Sea buckthorn, aka seaberries

While traditional energy drinks are often heavy on sugar and artificial ingredients, TENZING products are plant-based and low in calories – around 60% less sugar than comparable products – offering naturally sourced caffeine, vitamin C and electrolytes with every sip. An impressive 95% of ingredients are sourced in the UK.  

The company also claims to be the world’s first carbon negative energy drink and invests a portion of profits into environmental projects. Cans will be sold in selected Co-op stores nationwide, with 1% of all proceeds going back to St Agnes-based campaign organisation Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).  

“I’ve always loved surfing and wanted to support SAS, so I was considering how to work with them,” says TENZING chief executive and founder Huib van Bockel. “I decided to try and source ingredients as locally as possible. When I discovered Seth’s seaberries, I couldn’t believe how similar our back stories were.” 

It turned out both businesses have their origins in landlocked Nepal. Huib launched TENZING based on a recipe used by Himalayan Sherpas, and named his company after Tenzing Norgay, who famously became one of the first men to scale Mount Everest in the company of Sir Edmund Hillary. A percentage of revenue from his first product – combining green tea, green coffee and lemon juice – funded 15 stone bins to help solve the rubbish problem on the slopes of Everest, at the request of the Sherpas.  

The Cornish seaberry story began when agronomist Seth suffered from altitude sickness — dizziness, nosebleeds, splitting headaches and breathlessness – on a trek to Mount Everest base camp. A Sherpa gave him a glassful of a hot, bright-orange elixir: his first introduction to seaberry juice, with its distinct nutritional properties. Later, Seth was surprised to stumble across the same seaberries growing wild on the Cornish coast path.  

“TENZING was looking for weird and wacky local ingredients, and I often come up when that conversation happens,” laughs Seth. “The seaberry is a wonderful fruit with so many healthy attributes, and it needs something to put it on the map. TENZING will reach a much bigger audience than I can on my own.” 

Cornish Sea Salt

The seaberries aren’t the only Cornish ingredient in this drink. Salt harvested from the seas around the Lizard Peninsula plays an important role, by amplifying the flavour and facilitating rehydration.  

Based in Gweek, near Helston, Cornish Sea Salt was founded in 2004 and is now the number one UK sea salt brand, selling to chefs and home cooks in 35 countries around the world. While table salt is as much as 99% sodium chloride, Cornish Sea Salt is naturally lower in sodium and contains more than 60 healthy trace minerals which have all kinds of health benefits, from effective brain, nerve and muscle function to a strong immune system. 

Chief operating officer Philip Tanswell says: “Salt is the base ingredient for so many things, so we get approached by a lot of producers. TENZING came to us for our provenance and science, and it was the link to Surfers Against Sewage that appealed to us – it meant we were giving something back.” 

Surfers Against Sewage founder Hugo Tagholm met Huib in July and showed him around SAS HQ and St Agnes Head. “It’s fantastic to have the support of a brand like TENZING to help us drive our campaigns,” he says. “We are mobilising record numbers of people at the beach to tackle plastic pollution and call for better water quality and stronger legislation. It’s vital that the corporate and business sectors put their money where their mouth is and help us do that.  

“We say no to a lot of multi-national companies who don’t match our values or the level of commitment TENZING showed us. I know they are sourcing ingredients in Cornwall and supporting that part of the production cycle and economy, being considerate to the impact their products have. They passed our due diligence process – not everyone does.” 

In 2021, TENZING became the first soft drink brand to label its cans with its environmental impact from crop to can – “transport, production, everything” – calculated and revealed for all to see. “We know and we show our carbon footprint, and we try to reduce it as far as we possibly can,” says Huib. 

Perhaps most importantly, what does the drink actually taste like? “It’s unique – very tangy and citrussy,” says Huib. “It will be the first time many UK drinkers have tasted a seaberry. I’d say it’s our most refreshing product to date.”  

TENZING Natural Energy: Apple and Seaberry is due to go on sale in Co-op supermarkets from August 15. RRP £1.90. www.tenzingnaturalenergy.com