While in various parts of North America and the Middle East, lemonade refers to a non-carbonated, sweetened lemon beverage, in most of Eurasia, lemonade is a sweet, fizzy drink resembling what most of us call “soda.”

Generally regarded as a Western invention, lemonade reached Georgia by 1833 and, soon after, the Georgians were pairing fizzy water with a variety of flavors. In fact, Georgia became the birthplace of at least one original “lemonade” flavor: tarkhun. Tarkhun is made with a syrup made with tarragon leaves, providing a complex flavor that is sweet and tangy.

Georgia’s major producer of lemonades, including tarkhun, is Natakhtari, a company founded in 2005. The company offers around 14 different flavor options, ranging from fruity (such as Orange, Apple, and Raspberry) to extra sweet (such as Cream and Chocolate). And of course, they produce tarkhun. In 2010, Natakhtari also released a sugar-free pear lemonade to cater to diet nutrition customers.

Natakhtari lemonade is consumed regularly in both daily life and celebration, occupying a similar space in the market to mineral waters and wine on the Georgian market. While popular domestically, Natakhtari lemonade is also sold in 20 countries around the world including Russia, where distribution is rapidly growing following the beverage’s success in passing Russia’s stringent food and beverage examinations in 2011. Exports now make up 32% of all Natakhtari’s sales.

Beyond influencing the consumer market, Natakhtari is a key player in Georgia’s civic engagement initiatives. The Natakhtari Foundation, founded in 2016, has laid out a five year plan to focus on the professional training, education, and employment of underprivileged youth, using sales from its lemonade to directly fund the cause. Typically sold in half liter glass bottles for around $1 USD, Natakhtari Lemonade thus provides a cheap, delicious, and philanthropic option for many consumers looking for a refreshing treat.

For a closer look at the fizzy drink and its history, check out the video below:

A heartwarming commercial promoting Natakhtari Lemonade:

Rylin McGee is a junior at the University of Richmond studying International Relations – Development and Change, with a focus on the environment and a minor in Russian Studies. Currently a SRAS Home and Abroad Scholar, she is working to improve her language skills and learn about Russia’s environmental history and policies by attending SRAS’s Russia and the Environment program in Irkutsk during the spring 2018 semester. Beyond studying, Rylin enjoys hiking, yoga, painting, coffee/tea, and exploring.