For Roxana Saidi, a first-generation Iranian-American, pistachios have always been meaningful. With rich cultural significance in the Middle East, where pistachios have been grown for thousands of years, the crunchy green nut is also grown in California, where Roxana was born. What started as a passion project led to Roxana pioneering an entirely new category in the increasingly popular alt/non-dairy milking space: Tachethe first true pistachio milk launched in the US in 2020.
In 2015, Roxana started making her own pistachio milk at home as an alternative to almond milk, saving California from losing precious water resources. When Roxana discovered that pistachio milk requires 75% less water, Roxana set out to source the most flavorful pistachios in the world with a desire to create a more sustainable, delicious alternative to non-dairy milk.
In developing Táche, Roxana has put deliciousness at the heart of it – a little nutty, a little sweet and wonderfully healthy. Unlike some other milk alternatives, Táche’s velvety texture also contains no added oils and foams well when steamed (by comparison, a latte made with oat milk has the toxic and incendiary equivalent of a medium serving of French fries, and almost the same impact on blood sugar as cola!). In addition, pistachios are the only nut that is a complete protein.
As part of my research into goal-oriented entrepreneurshipI recently spoke with Roxana about the development of Táche and how it is the pinnacle of her Persian heritage and a love for her drought-ravaged home state.
Christopher Marquis: How did you get the idea? What do pistachios mean to Iranian Americans?
Roxana Saidi: In the mid-2010s I was living in my home state of California and we were dealing with the worst drought ever. Coincidentally, this was also during the rise of almond milk, a plant-based milk that we realized takes an incredible amount of water to produce. Ironically, it was during a family trip to Paris when the entrepreneurial light bulb moment struck and that’s when I knew I was about to embark on a journey from scratch.
As an Iranian American, my family has always loved and cherished pistachios. Pistachios are much more common in other parts of the world and the US is just starting to catch up. Growing up, pistachios were just as common in my house as chips at my friends’ houses. When I needed an espresso after one of our long Parisian lunches, it occurred to me that a milk could and should are made from my family’s favorite nut and would avoid copious water needs such as almond milk. Upon returning home, I immediately started testing pistachio milk recipes in my kitchen.
A few years later, oat milk began taking over the alt milk space, similarly offering a lower water consumption option compared to the leading nut milks on the market. However, oat milk contains added canola or canola oil, which can wreak havoc on your body.
Obviously there was an empty space in the category waiting for pistachio milk. I knew I wanted a dairy-free milk option that wouldn’t require a sacrifice of taste, the planet or my health and that’s exactly what we do at Táche.
marquis: Can you tell me about the plant milk landscape? How does pistachio milk compare to other plant-based milks such as almond milk, oat milk, etc. in terms of environmental impact and health characteristics?
Saidi: The plant-based milk category has exploded in the past decade, with almond and oats being the two biggest sources. But each of these options has its pitfalls, both in terms of the environment and health. It is now common knowledge that almonds require a huge amount of water to produce, which is especially precarious as they are grown in already arid areas like California. Pistachios grow with a fraction of the water needed for almonds. According to the UNESCO report published in the LA Times, it takes 97 gallons of water to grow 1 ounce of almonds, versus 25 gallons of water to grow 1 ounce of pistachios. That is about 75% less water needed.
Likewise, unlike most oat milk options, we add absolutely no vegetable or canola oil to Táche. This is critical because just one serving of oat milk with canola (i.e., canola oil) is the equivalent of taking in about the same amount of oil used when frying a medium serving of French fries. Canola/canola oil is highly processed, contains toxic trans fats and has been linked to many health problems, ranging from inflammation to cardiovascular disease. Plus, many of the oat milk options have about the same impact on blood sugar as drinking a can of Coke.
On the other hand, Táche does not add any seed oil and has significantly fewer calories, carbohydrates and sugar, so it is much healthier. Due to the inherent oil content naturally found in pistachios, Táche doesn’t sacrifice any of the creamy texture our customers crave.
Marquis: Do you think there is a lack of transparency for consumers about these environmental and health factors behind plant-based milk?
Saidi: Absolutely – like the plant-based movement as a whole, it takes a lot of education to make sure consumers know that just because something is plant-based doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. That’s a big part of what we try to do at Táche; inform consumers about a healthier option that also tastes great.
Marquis: Can you tell me about the history of the pistachio nut and then the milk? Why was it never in the US before Táche?
Saidi: Pistachios have been consumed for thousands of years and have developed a worldwide reputation as a premium nut. And yet in the US they are severely underutilized compared to other nuts. This is simply due to a very challenging supply chain, and most brands have struggled to build a supply chain of high quality pistachios at achievable prices. As the only pistachio milk in North America that doesn’t use other filling nuts or rice, we’ve created and are growing the supply chain. The aim of Táche is to make pistachios much more accessible to all categories.
Marquis: How did your background get you to where you are today?
Saidi: My background is in setting up companies that do something different. Years before brands took social media seriously as a top-of-funnel tool, I founded a unique social media agency focused on investing in social media as a marketing tool. We led the strategy and execution of campaigns that most brands haven’t even considered.
Not only has this of course deepened my expertise in social media marketing and PR, but it has also given me a distinct opportunity to know when I’ve got my hands on a groundbreaking company. Now we know that social media is not only ubiquitous as a marketing tool, but also an integral part of the foundation of a brand. Likewise, I know that pistachio milk is the wave of the future in plant-based milk, as it uniquely solves problems that other plant-based milks don’t.
Markies: I saw you just launched two new flavors – how do you see Táche growing in the next five years?
Saidi: If you walk around your local grocery stores, you’ll find that you won’t find many pistachio products other than the pistachios themselves. You may find ice cream and now pistachio milk, but not much else.
Táche is not a pistachio milk company; we are a pistachio company and we look forward to making that clear as we grow the line. In June, as you mentioned, we released our most requested flavors, Vanilla and Unsweetened Vanilla, totaling four products for Táche. Our mission is for Táche to become synonymous with healthy, innovative pistachio products throughout the supermarket, from the refrigerated perimeter to the aisle in the pantry.