Meet the Maker: Summerdown Mint
Our ‘Meet the Maker’ series is back for 2020 and our first one is extra special. Not just because this maker is an award-winning farm to tastebud artisan producer, but because they’re the very first food announcement of the year and every VIP and goodie bag ticket holder will receive their very own taste of chocolately perfection from this maker.
Ladies and gentlemen say hello to Summerdown Mint.
Seriously invigorating chocolates, teas and treats.
Summerdown Mint are producers of seriously invigorating chocolates, teas and treats. Made with the finest pure English Black Mitcham peppermint grown on their Hampshire farm, this distinctive plant gives all their award-winning products their signature distinct, intense and bright flavour.
They’re multi-award winning – 21 Great Taste awards, five Beauty Shortlist awards, two Janey Loves Platinum Awards, one Veggie Awards – and that’s to a few.
Nearly all their chocolates are vegan friendly and gluten free. And as if that wasn’t enough their body, bath & home products are 98% naturally derived and cruelty free.
Peppermint has numerous natural health & wellbeing benefits including aiding digestion, boosting mood, enhancing energy, relieving stress, stimulating and decongesting so it’s the perfect brand to add to your roster for 2020.
In this ‘Meet the Maker’ interview we spend some time getting to know Summerdown Mint in more depth ahead of this summer at Foodies Festival.
Hi team Summerdown Mint, what’s the secret behind amazing mint products?
We are a higher stewardship farm and are passionate about farming for the future. We’re always thinking about our environmental impact and how we can maintain a thriving, sustainable ecosystem. Our soil is so important to us – without it, our peppermint wouldn’t thrive. Keeping it nutrient rich and healthy is a top priority. Our fields are a peppermint playground for wildlife, insects and flowers. We have beehives in our mint fields, sow wildflower borders and plant special feed crops for birds. We are charity partners with Plantlife, a prominent UK wildlife conservation charity.
And how did the journey to being a multi award-winning maker begin?
Our founder, Sir Michael Colman has a taste for strong flavours. After retiring from mustard back to the family farm in Hampshire, Sir Michael and farm manager Ian Margetts diversified into growing peppermint. Ian went over to the USA to harness all his peppermint growing skills and re-introduced Black Mitcham peppermint to the UK in the 90s. What started out as a few cuttings in a greenhouse, then moved to an area the size of a tennis court and now takes up 100 acres on our farm. It took over ten years to cultivate this extraordinary crop as it’s a notoriously difficult plant to grow. We started making and selling our chocolates in 2005 and the teas and body, bath & home ranges followed.
What a great story. Now that you’ve been making for over 25 years what innovations have you made to perfect the product over the year?
We harvest our mint in August direct into cooker tubs. These portable tubs then move to our on-site purpose built distillery where our Master of mint, Farm Manager Ian Margetts adds steam to the cooker tubs to extract the pure peppermint oil. The oil is then aged for two years – much like a fine wine. It is then used for our chocolates, teas and body, bath and home products. Our tea is unique in that peppermint leaves can lose some of their flavour when dried. We mix our dry leaves back into the oil to make our tea twice as minty.
A cup of something special from food blogger One Two Culinary Stew.
From Countryfile to The One Show it’s time for British mint to shine.
And what would you say makes you unique?
Quite simply, our star ingredient – the Black Mitcham peppermint we grow, harvest and distil on our Hampshire farm and which inspires all of our products. Its refined, unique taste and smell is intense and bright and you won’t find it anywhere else. We’re the only UK producer of peppermint chocolates, teas and body bath & home products to grow and distil all the peppermint in all products.
This is going to be a tough one but what’s been your highlight so far as a maker?
After nearly 25 years of growing, harvesting and distilling our own Black Mitcham peppermint it is hard to choose! But after all these years we are still finding new ways to engage and enthuse everyone who experiences the unique power of Summerdown. Whether it’s the 20+ Great Taste awards, featuring on Countryfile and The One Show (to name just two shows we have featured on), the constant stream of 5* Feefo reviews we get on our website or receiving an email from a delighted customer who has just discovered our peppermint – each thing is a wonderful reminder of just how special our peppermint is.
And finally, where can people grab some Summerdown Mint goodness before Foodies Festival this summer?
All our products are sold online at www.summerdownmint.com and in selected farm shops, delis and food halls up and down the UK (with an increasing global presence) including Whole Foods, Farmdrop and COOK. And of course you’ll be able to find us in your goodies bags at Foodies Festival over the summer.
If that hasn’t wet your appetite by now be sure to follow Summerdown Mint on social media for more minty perfection and grab your VIP and goodies bag tickets for Foodies Festival this summer.