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Mountain business taps into the beverage market with MapleAqua posted on 05/01/2019

Stephen Ferruzza’s idea for his latest creation, the MapleAqua line of beverages, began when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He took Chaga mushroom, combined it with maple sap and set it on the wood stove to create a delicious black tea that is loaded in antioxidants.

When he added carbonation to the drink, an alternative to energy drinks, sodas and more was born: MapleAqua, a sweet and bubbly beverage now growing in popularity.

“The maple sap gives it a really nice flavor,” said Ferruzza, known on the Mountain for his Rhododendron pizzeria, Al Forno Ferruzza.

“We created MapleAqua to honor the flavors of the forest and as an alternative to alcohol or sugary soft drinks,” he added. “It is intended for relaxing and nurturing the body and spirit while providing vital energy on the cellular level.”

Ferruzza noted that the endeavor started on a small scale, but even after doubling production twice, the business is growing and he recently added clients in Canada. The drink, licensed through the Oregon Department of Agriculture, features a concentrate made in Rhododendron and the final product produced back east, where the Ferruzza family also owns a farm used to harvest the tree sap.

“The Rhody shop is a key to the whole deal,” Ferruzza said. “That’s where our processing facility is.”

Two varieties are now available, ginseng and yerba matte, with more flavors in the works. The drink also contains CBD, the non-psychoactive substance in cannabis that has been used to treat various ailments.

“It’s kind of a hot item right now,” Ferruzza said of CBD, noting it is legal in all 50 states and safe for everyone to drink.

Ferruzza also added that the season to make the beverage is limited to when they can tap their maple trees, but they currently have enough to supply stores in Oregon, his two pizza parlors (including one in Portland opening in June) and some stores back in New York. He plans on tapping more trees on his family’s farm to increase production, with all tapping done in a sustainable way, including using the smallest spouts available.

He noted that sports enthusiasts, including bicyclists, are discovering the drink’s ability to help rehydrate, while seeing hikers, skiers and other mountain visitors enjoying MapleAqua after a day out.

“It’s something everyone can enjoy, young or old,” he said.

And he has found other uses by turning the maple sap and Chaga combination into a granulated sugar, perfect for adding to coffee, signature cocktails, desserts and more at his restaurants.

Finally, Ferruzza also noted a new addition to the Rhododendron location: a kids play area with a cotton candy machine featuring (you guessed it) Chaga maple cotton candy.

“It’s a really unique product,” he said.

For more information, including area stores that carry MapleAqua, visit MapleAqua.com.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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