Asheville, N.C.—An ancient beverage is winning new fans and top awards thanks to the devotion of Asheville maker Shanti Volpe. In the 2019 Artisan Flave Awards, an independent competition which recognizes artisan and craft makers from around the world, Volpe’s Shanti Elixirs took first place for its Pineapple Turmeric Jun and second place for its Blueberry Basil Jun in the kombucha category. A nearby maker, the Marshall-based Buchi, came in third for its coconut blueberry elderberry kombucha, sold under the name Water.
“I’m thrilled that Shanti Elixirs has been recognized by the Artisan Flave Awards for two of our most popular Jun offerings, and I’m proud to represent our region along with Buchi,” said Volpe, the company’s founder and owner. “Western North Carolina is leading the way in making the craft beverage market more conscious about the health of consumers and of our planet. I’m deeply grateful to the community and the customers who have encouraged me to share the goodness of Jun with the wider world.”
Shanti Elixirs’ wins in the kombucha category are especially meaningful, says Volpe, because the Jun she creates differs from the more familiar kombucha in important ways. While kombucha is typically made with black tea and cane sugar, Jun marries green tea and raw honey to create a naturally sparkling beverage. The fermentation process produces prebiotics and probiotics with many potential benefits to the digestive system.
“Honey and green tea also offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Volpe, who is a nurse, holistic practitioner, and perinatal educator. “People won’t keep drinking a beverage just because it’s healthy, though—it has to be delicious, too! I am so pleased that the 2019 Artisan Flave Awards have recognized all the effort we put into creating Jun that tastes smooth, refreshing, and above all, flavorful.”
In addition to the award-winning Pineapple Turmeric and Blueberry Basil, Shanti Elixirs offers five other regular flavors, including Tulsi Rose and Elderberry Lemon. Seasonal Juns are available in limited runs throughout the year, such as summer’s Mango Habanero and the autumnal Cranberry Sparkle. Volpe has collaborated with other local makers on special editions, like a Chocolate Chaga created with French Broad Chocolates, along with exclusive offerings such as the upcoming Cranberry Sumac Limeade with renowned chef Reza Setayesh. This flavor will be launching on September 19 and only available at his restaurant Bim Beri Bon in West Asheville.
Volpe, who grew up in a home that valued holistic wellness, came to Jun from a passion for bees and beekeeping. “Brewing Jun was a way to honor the honey that the bees produced, as well as their role in keeping our planet healthy,” she said. “I also believe that it is our responsibility to source organically, sustainably, and consciously, so our customers can feel good about what they are doing for our world as well as for their bodies.”
Volpe’s Asheville customers feel good about Shanti Elixirs, too, voting it into third place in the Food/Drink category of the Mountain Xpress Best Of Awards in 2019, right behind Buchi and Roots Hummus. Over 100 restaurants, breweries, and shops in the area stock the company’s bottled Jun, and it’s available on tap at several locations, including Fifth Season Gardening, where you can get a flight of Jun, and six local farmers markets where Volpe and her team share tastes of Jun and information about its benefits directly with the public. She says, “I’m so grateful to everyone, from our local customers to international organizations like the Artisan Flave Awards, for helping us to make our business and our world better.”