Meet the Maker – Summerdown Mint
Summerdown Mint are producers of seriously invigorating chocolates, teas and treats. Made with the finest pure English Black Mitcham peppermint grown on our Hampshire farm, this distinctive plant gives all our award-winning products their distinct, intense and bright flavour.
Nearly all their chocolates are vegan friendly and gluten free. 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.
Summerdown Mint are a higher stewardship farm and are passionate about farming for the future. They are always thinking about their environmental impact and how they can maintain a thriving, sustainable ecosystem. Their soil is so important to them – without it, their peppermint wouldn’t thrive. Keeping it nutrient rich and healthy is a top priority. Their fields are a peppermint playground for wildlife, insects and flowers and they have beehives in their mint fields, sow wildflower borders and plant special feed crops for birds.
To find out more about the company, what inspires them and whats in stall for the future read out interview with Joseph Coleman from Sommerdown Mint below…
How did it all start?
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.
The story behind the name…
The brand name is based on the name of our farm in Hampshire.
Where are you based?
Our farm is based in North Hampshire.
What inspires you?
We are inspired by nature! There is something powerful in the constant reminder that you can only make the most of what we grow by partnering with the land. We are inspired to never impose ourselves on the farm but always to come alongside and partner with it. This then influences everything else that we do as a business.
What is your creation process?
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 2 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.
What makes you, your brand or products 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 grown and distil all the peppermint in all products.
What is your next project?
2020 is an exciting year for us as it marks the 25th anniversary of distilling the peppermint oil and there are some exciting changes with our brand look and feel later this year. We’re also looking at three exciting pieces of NPD which I’m afraid are top secret right now.
What is your biggest achievement?
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, 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.
What is your best-selling product/line?
Chocolate: Chocolate peppermint creams
Teas: English peppermint tea
Body, bath & home: Mint & lemongrass diffuser
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
This is the first time we’ll have exhibited but we’re really excited to be able to share our love of peppermint and the work we do with Country Living readers, so they can smell and taste the difference first hand, and to be exhibiting amongst such creative and talented producers.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
Have conviction in what you are doing
Be passionate about it
Remember that creating and making anything is a true joy.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Don’t be fooled by the Instagram-ification of life. Maybe you only see the positive side from everyone else’s work, but that does not mean they are not facing down similar challenges to you.
Shop their products online at www.summerdownmint.com