Home RecipesBeverages Tarkhun, Tarragon Soda

Tarkhun, Tarragon Soda

by Florian
16 comments
Georgian Food - Tarkhun, Tarragon Soda

Tarragon soda was invented by Mitrofan Lagidze in Tbilisi in 1887, and I already talked about Lagidze’s beverages here, in another post. But it wasn’t until 1981 that Soviet Union started mass production and gave Tarkhun (whose name is derived from the word for tarragon in Georgian and other languages from around the Caucasus) its distinctive color by adding malachite green, a dye that is now considered toxic and banned in most countries. Don’t worry though, my recipe’s entirely safe and natural!

As surprising as the idea may first sound, Tarkhun is actually quite good and carries tarragon’s pleasant, mildly liquorice flavor. There are 2 challenges in making perfect Tarkhun:

  • Color. The tarragon syrup will be pale green right after you make it, but will quickly turn yellow. The role of the baking soda and the ice cubes in my recipe is actually to slow down that “yellowing” process, but it can only do so much. If you’re willing to make the recipe a bit more complicated, you could add the lemon juice at the last minute, when assembling the soda — acidity is a big factor in the color.
    You can add a drop of (FDA-approved) green coloring in each glass for a vibrant result (see my picture below). If you want to reproduce the color of the commercial versions (as in the picture at the very bottom of this post), you would probably need to add some blue coloring too. Or you can just choose to consume the all-natural yellow version.
  • Clarity. Chances are your soda will still contain small tarragon particles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want a clearer beverage, you should consider using a 100-micron superbag. Now THAT will make you a true Tarkhun aficionado!

Tarragon syrup
Yields about 6 servings

8 oz sugar
3 oz water
1/8 tsp baking soda
0.35 oz fresh tarragon leaves
3 oz ice cubes
1.5 oz lemon juice

  • In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring constantly. Mix in the baking soda and tarragon, cook for 1 minute and remove from the heat.
  • Transfer to a blender and process until smooth. Add the ice cubes and lemon juice and process again. Pass through a fine chinois and refrigerate.

Tarkhun
Yields about 6 glasses

tarragon syrup
36 oz sparkling water
green food coloring (optional)

  • For each glass, Mix 2 oz syrup with 6 oz sparkling water and a drop of food coloring. Top with ice. Enjoy!

A commercial Tarkhun

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16 comments

Sarah May 30, 2011 - 13:43

I never heard of tarragon soda before. The only licorice flavored beverage available here is ouzo or arak and it is not so bright green. I use tarragon in Persian cooking sometimes and there it is also known as tarkhun.

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Girls' Guide to Guns and Butter May 30, 2011 - 13:59

Grew up with this stuff! Thanks so much for sharing, I will try this if I come across some tarragon (I don’t grow it here on my farm). This is known as tarhun in Azerbaijani as well and I think estragon in Russian.

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Jodi May 30, 2011 - 19:57

Ah, the wonders (and challenges) of food chemistry. I make a lavender-lime beverage in the summer and I’m always sad to see that beautifully saturated purple-green lavender syrup turn pink when it’s mixed with the lime juice.

I was fascinated reading about this tarragon soda today ~ really curious to discover how it tastes so looking forward to giving it at try.

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Sara June 1, 2011 - 12:32

How interesting. If our little tarragon plant does well I will have to try this. Just found your blog–I love eastern european culture so I will definitely be back!

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Mike September 9, 2012 - 08:05

Awesome! Thanks for the recipe!
What do I do if I don’t have a blender though?
Btw, do you know the recipe for ‘boza’? It’s my favorite eastern European drink, but so difficult to find an online recipe for it

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Florian September 9, 2012 - 21:51

Thanks, Mike. My recommendation would be to… buy a blender 🙂 Sorry, I don’t have a recipe for boza yet!

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Chadwick August 7, 2013 - 04:28

Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to send this article to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a great
read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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Florian August 8, 2013 - 23:43

Hi Chadwick, your previous roommate is a weirdo.

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Monarda May 4, 2014 - 04:18

I wonder if adding parsley or a bit of spinach might preserve the green color.

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Florian May 4, 2014 - 20:49

Hi Monarda, give it a try!

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Melissa September 6, 2014 - 10:44

Awesome! I’m growing tarragon just because I was recently in Tbilisi and I discovered this soda! And it’s so easy to grow! It’s taking over my garden! Tell me how long will the syrup keep in the refrigerator?

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Florian September 7, 2014 - 19:17

Now that’s what I call making soda from scratch! I wouldn’t keep the syrup in the fridge for more than 5 days or so.

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Rey Mohammed December 8, 2017 - 19:23

I first saw this drink a couple of days ago. The color reminds me of Green River (q.v.), but I thought the taste resembled anise or fennel. True tarragon is not that strongly liquoricy, as a rule, but “Texas tarragon” (really the anisillo marigold, Tagetes lucida) is both that and sweeter. I think you would have to use food color to keep it so green in the presence of citric acid. In the alternative, instead of citrus juice, you could use the zest.

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Florian December 8, 2017 - 19:33

Hi Ray, the baking soda is there to balance the citric acid, that’s how I preserve the drink’s green color.

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Feletto Stefania July 20, 2018 - 14:43

Hi Florian! I really want to try this recipe, I just can’t undestand how much is “oz” in your system, because online I’ve read that there is oz for liquids and for oz for dry goods. And actually so many different kinds of ounce (American, British…) … So, could you give me an idea of the same quantities but maybe in grams? I would really appreciate.

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Florian July 20, 2018 - 20:57

Hi Stefania, it is confusing indeed, which is why my recent recipes use grams from everything. For this recipe, you can use a scale to measure the ingredients and consider that 1 oz = 28 grams.

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