A little history
At the start of the 20th century, England was famous for producing the best mint in the world — the French still call peppermint menthe anglaise, or English mint. Over the years, pressure to grow food crops and the cost of labour brought a decline in cultivation, leaving the US to become the centre for commercial production.
Summerdown’s mission to reintroduce this traditional crop began in the mid-1990s as part of a trend towards authentic food created for its quality and character.
We felt the food industry was selling its customers short by offering cheap peppermint oil blends that feature harsh-tasting imports from China and India — and we were sure that, once people experienced the clean, intense taste of pure English mint, they would appreciate the difference.
Black Mitcham mint is now rooted in English soil once more and bringing its unique flavour to a growing range of Summerdown products.
The Americans admired Black Mitcham mint so much that they brought it over from England in the 1930s. A research programme at the University of Oregon improved its resistance to disease, fungus and drought and its oil was soon recognised as the gold standard.
When Summerdown decided to bring Black Mitcham home, we started small, with a plot the size of a tennis court. It is a notoriously difficult crop to grow, sensitive to nuances in soil, weather and temperature, so we looked for expert help – and found it in America.
For four years, we picked the brains of farmers and academics in Montana, Oregon and Washington, where Black Mitcham is produced on an industrial scale.
Our plot gradually expanded as our knowledge grew. Today, a thriving mint crop covers 80 acres of land.
Great Taste Awards
Great Taste is to speciality food and drink what Michelin is to fine dining, so we are very proud that Summerdown Mint continues to receive so many awards each year. This year we are delighted our new Heritage range of chocolates, each made with 70% dark chocolate, have both been recognised: two-star gold for our Heritage peppermint fondants and one-star gold for our Heritage peppermint crisp discs. Also this year, our spearmint & camomile tea won two-star gold, affirming we use only the finest ingredients from our farm in the foothills of the Hampshire downs.
In truth, all our chocolates and teas have won awards in the last few years. We now have an impressive total of sixteen Great Taste awards, including the ultimate three-star accolade for our pyramid peppermint tea in 2014, two more awards in 2015 (two-star gold for our peppermint thins and one-star gold for our peppermint tea) as well as our impressive three awards for 2016.
Sixteen Great Taste Awards and counting…
Organised by the Guild of Fine Foods, these awards are one of the UK’s most rigorous tests of food standards, with each entry judged by a panel of independent experts. The coveted black-and-gold star Great Taste stickers are a mark of quality that is trusted by retailers, buyers and consumers.
All Great Taste Awards
Award-winning chocolates and teas, Body and Bath products made with rediscovered Black Mitcham mint