The art of distilling mint

The process of creating peppermint oil is similar to making fine wine – about two parts science to one part art. Like wine, the balance of flavours must be finely-judged. Like wine, the oil must be left to settle and mature for more than a year before it is ready to be used.

The know-how and state-of-the-art equipment were imported from America, where our staff made repeated study trips before the distillery was set up at Summerdown.

At the heart of the process is a gas chromatograph, which tells us when each flavour component is at its peak and enables us to harvest the mint at precisely the optimum moment.

The oil is then extracted by steam distillation – another skilled process, in which the boiler and receiving cans, where oil and water are separated, must be kept at exactly the right temperature.

For our tea, leaf from our crop is dried and later infused with our oil before being made up into tea bags. The result is an unusual tea that comes entirely from our own estate.