Our love affair with the United States

It’s not just the marriage of Harry and Meghan bringing together England and the United States in a perfect union, the US has always held a special place in our hearts and the unique Black Mitcham peppermint crop growing on our Hampshire farm today owes much to our friends in the States.

In the early nineteenth and twentieth centuries, England was renowned for growing the best peppermint in the world (Menthe anglaise), but the expertise to grow it was lost during the war. Meanwhile over the pond, mentha piperita (Black Mitcham peppermint) was successfully being grown in Oregon, Montana and Washington State.

In the early 90s, Summerdown Farm Manager Ian brought back a bag of mint sweets from a trip to the States – something akin to mint humbugs, which reminded Sir Michael of a sweet called a bullseye from his childhood. This sparked Sir Michael’s passion to revive the taste and scent that had been lost for generations. Ian travelled to the US to spend time honing his mint farming skills and brought back the latest technology and distillation equipment. It then took over ten years to successfully grow and distil this rare, single estate peppermint oil.

From the inspiration from that first American sweet, we now produce over twenty products which are centred around our pure, single estate BM peppermint oil, grown and distilled on our family farm. And Americans can’t get enough of the Summerdown Mint brand. We’re stocked in a variety of stores including Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods.  

And this month, Jo Colman, Grandson of our founder Sir Michael Colman has been back there, kicking up a storm sampling our chocolates in a variety of stores across Texas and in New York City, spreading the Summerdown love.

Here’s a pic of Libby sampling at a Central Market store in Texas

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In conversation with….Jo Saunders

We’re all feeling a little sluggish after the last few weeks of over-indulgence. With new year’s resolutions front of mind, we caught up with Nutritional Therapist Jo Saunders over a cup of peppermint tea to share some of the natural benefits of peppermint and gain some useful tips and quick wins to get 2018 off to a flying start.

Please tell us a little about what your work as Nutritional Therapist involves

I am fortunate to work as part of the NatureDoc team of Nutritional Therapists, in private practice and remotely. I work to address a clients health needs using a Functional Medicine perspective, which means looking at the body as a whole. After a full consultation and health history, we identify the triggers and root cause to their symptoms/health condition. Sometimes we carry out functional testing which enables me to underpin my recommendations with science and help identify the root cause of any health challenge. I will then create a completely personalised dietary, supplement & lifestyle protocol to help that individual optimise their health.

 

Do you recommend natural herbs as part of your nutritional plans to your Clients?

Yes absolutely, and in fact I feel they are greatly undersold for their therapeutic benefits. I use herbs to help with everything from digestive function, hormones, mood and sleep. They have wonderful therapeutic properties that are hugely effective for supporting health, and also taste fantastic which helps!

 

When would you promote the use of peppermint and its benefits to your Clients?

Peppermint is traditionally used internally to ease digestive upsets. Peppermint contains volatile oils, including menthol and menthone, which are known for their carminative, antispasmodic and nervine properties. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

I also recommend it to breastfeeding mothers as the oils will pass into the breast milk easing digestive discomfort in infants.

 

You’ve recently discovered Summerdown’ range of award-winning peppermint teas. What did you think?

The Summerdown peppermint teas are some of the purest and freshest I have come across, they are both delicious and therapeutic. The second you open the box you are aware of the beneficial essential oils and potential health benefits of the teas.

I particularly like Summerdown’s clever combination of spearmint and camomile tea, a herb renowned for its nervine properties to help calm and relax. I find this blend particularly effective for those who struggle with digestive discomfort triggered by anxiety or stress.

 

Do you choose natural body bath and home products? If so, why, and what are the benefits of using natural products on your skin?

 

I am a huge advocate for using natural products, both on our skin and in the home and I am passionate about encouraging clients to reduce their toxic burden by swapping to natural products where possible. This can have a negative impact on our health and impact on our detoxification pathways.  I would always recommend choosing natural products for everyone, but it is particularly important for anyone struggling with problem skin, sensitive & dry skin, eczema etc.

Do you feel that a fragrance has the power to influence your mood?

I am a huge fan of essential oils and find the impact their properties can have on both mood and energy levels quite amazing. Whilst I am working, seeing clients or writing articles, I love the uplifting combined fragrance of Summerdown’s signature lemongrass and mint to help energise, stimulate clear thinking and help improve my concentration on a busy day. I often use Summerdown’s candle or reed diffuser in my practice room.

…and finally…. do you have any tips you could share on other uses of our pure peppermint and lavender oils?

Peppermint oil (mixed with a carrier oil) can also be used as a topical analgesic (pain reliever) for muscle pain, neuraliga & headaches and also used as an effective inhalation for sinus congestion, coughs and colds, particularly in combination with thyme and eucalyptus.

A few drops of lavender in a warm bath or on your pillow is a wonderful relaxing sleep aid for occasional insomnia. Lavender also possesses antidepressant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties so it can be helpful for boosting mood.

 

We asked Jo for her top nutrition and lifestyle tips. Read more here…

 

Jo Saunders is an experienced Nutritional Therapist and co-author of popular healthy family recipe website, www.cookingthemhealthy.com. Jo juggles family life with her 3 children with seeing clients in her practice,  writes regular articles relating to health & nutrition and runs Cooking them Healthy workshops with her chef partner Georgie.

 

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Prepare your home for entertaining this Christmas

The big day is getting closer and if, like the Summerdown team, you’ve been busy focusing on Christmas shopping (or haven’t even started in some cases!), your thoughts may not have yet turned to entertaining. Whether you’re hosting family and friends on the big day, or having a Christmas party at home, we’ve got a few tips to help prepare your home and make sure it all goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Hosting the big day? Stay sane with these tips

Choose one chef and follow them. You may be lucky enough to have age-old family traditions and know exactly how long your turkey needs cooking and at what temperature and which stuffing everyone likes. But if like us you need to follow a recipe or Christmas guide, we’ve found that every chef offers different conflicting advice. So whether it’s Delia, Nigella, Mary or Heston – choose one chef’s guide to Christmas dinner and stick with it.

Keep everyone out of the kitchen. Enlist help from someone else in the family to keep everyone else entertained (a walk, games, play with new presents) whilst you’re in the kitchen – stress levels rise when you’ve got little Johnny playing with his new football under your feet and Great Aunt Deidre hovering around looking to fill up her sherry!

Accept help. You’re not wonder woman and superman. If family and friends offer to make a dish, gratefully accept it.

Do as much in advance as possible. It’s amazing what you can freeze ahead, from bread sauce to par-boiled roast potatoes!

 

 

Getting the home ready

When it comes to decorations, at Summerdown we’re naturally inclined to favour home-made wreaths, holly picked from around the farm hung over pictures, twigs and sprigs picked from the garden and sprayed. But if you haven’t got time to channel your inner Kirstie-Allsopp, some of our favourite decorations come from Cox and Cox

Create an ambiance with candle-light – our aromatic candle not only smells delicious but looks beautiful too. Why not place this at the centre of your table decoration?

If you’ve got overnight guests, make their rooms really special with our best-selling diffuser and update your bath linen – our favourites are our friends at Draper London.

Hannah in our team creates a gorgeous table centrepiece by filling a glass bowl or jar with our individually-wrapped Heritage mint creams and crisps.

 

You’re being entertained… you lucky thing! Surprise someone with Summerdown

Perhaps its not your turn this year and you can sit back and relax. You’ll want to say thank you to your hosts. Our customers are always stocking up on soaps and Chocolates for just this reason – starting at £5, they make the perfect little thank you presents.

 

Alternatively, we’ve been taking peppermint tea to dinner parties recently. Entertaining is changing with the trend for far more casual dining and less formality all around. Gone are the days when everyone has a coffee after dinner – many people opting for a peppermint tea. Well what better way to end a meal than with the gift of Summerdown peppermint tea.

If you’re looking for something extra special, why not take our new truffles along? They are pure Christmas indulgence. Or our best-selling diffuser makes a lovely gift.

 

 

 

And finally, look after yourself

With all the entertaining it’s easy to forget about number one. But you’re only going to enjoy the festivities if you’re in mint (sorry!) condition.

 

That means taking time out for yourself. Take advantage of one of our special offers on body, bath and home or  treat yourself to a bath soak so you can steal 30 minutes to enjoy a relaxing, de-stressing bath with the power of peppermint.

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Autumn is well and truly here

It’s funny how it never seems to be a gradual season change from Summer to Autumn, you just suddenly notice the leaves on the ground, feel the chill of the air and your internal body clock kicks in – telling you to eat comforting food and cosy up indoors. At Summerdown we love Autumn;  the Estate is looking absolutely stunning and there’s a pre-Christmas excitement and sense of anticipation in the air. 

We thought we’d share some tips from the Summerdown team on getting ready for Autumn………

 

Your home

As we start to spend more time inside and the days get shorter, Autumn is about creating warmth and cosiness in your home, somewhere inviting to come back to. It’s time to turn on the heating, and turn the Aga back on – if you’re lucky enough to own one. If you haven’t got an open fire or woodburner, you can still add warmth through candle-light. Our newly formulated and award-winning candle has a longer burn time and stronger throw.

Adding new throws and cushions also help – some of our favourites are from Susie Watson 

 

Image Susie Watson Designs

 

What’s cooking?

Autumn’s about comfort food; roasts, casseroles, soups and crumbles.  Sir Michael’s Grandson Jo Colman who has recently joined the family business enjoys cooking and shares some of his twists on Autumn favourites here.

First up,  Nigel Slater’s twist on Roast Chicken  – Spatchcock chicken with rocket cous cous

If you’re looking for a soup with a bit of a kick and one with natural health benefits (just like our mint), try this Turkey and turmeric broth 

For Autumn entertaining, try Jo’s favourite Black garlic and lamb – it looks impressive and tastes divine. Don’t forget to finish off your meal with our award winning chocolates and teas. Peppermint team is a natural way to aid digestion.

And finally, for a crumble that’s worthy of a place on Masterchef, you can’t beat Raymond Blanc’s apple and blackberry version – he cooks the topping separately to get that extra crunch

 

 

 

Enjoying the outdoors

There’s something about wrapping up and getting outside on sunny and chilly Autumn days, taking a bracing walk and feeling the crunch of leaves beneath your feet. Fed up of your usual walk? Why not visit  The National Trust’s website for a list of UK-wide Autumn walks to lift your spirits. If none of them are close by, you can also just simply enter your postcode on their home page and it will provide you with local walks and places to visit. If you’re looking for ways to keep the children occupied on a walk, log on to our Charity Partner Plantlife and join the Great British Wildflower hunt. The children can hunt as they walk, and everyone’s happy.

 

 

 

 

Bath-time (yours, not the kids!)

And when you’re back home from that walk or day at work, Autumn nights give you the green light to relax in the bath. Find half an hour to yourself to fully unwind. Our Beauty Shortlist award-winning bath soak is gentle enough not to dry your skin and the pure peppermint oil fragrance relaxes the mind naturally and de-stresses. Light a candle at the same time for some real indulgence.

 

 

 

Our new and improved candle is currently available online at an introductory price of £20 (normal price £25). 

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In conversation with….Annabelle Holland Design

 

 

We were lucky enough to have a coffee with Hampshire-based interior designer Annabelle Everard of Annabelle Holland Design and steal some hints and tips on Home Fragrance in between visits to current projects and suppliers across the country.

 

Describe your style

 

A seamless blend of modern and classic design.

 

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

 

Inspiration comes from so many different places. It could be anything from a piece of Art, to a trip abroad or a unique find at an Antiques Market. Perhaps most importantly though, I think every residential design should reflect the character of the owner.

 

What are your favourite scents/scent memories?

 

My strongest scent memories come from my childhood in Jamaica. There is a fragrance that transports me right back to chatting to my granny on her four poster bed. I think the actual scent is a mixture of cedar and mahogany, but the fact that some of my fondest memories are linked to a scent, just shows how important home fragrance is.

 

 

Why do you use Home Fragrance personally and in your schemes for Clients?

 

Interior design often focuses on the visual and tactile, but the olfactory sense is just as important. It can alter emotions, lift a mood and enhance surroundings. Personally I use fragrance everywhere at home. Hallway tables are a great spot for diffusers, they create a lovely welcome home and provide a wonderful aroma every time you walk past them. I generally use room sprays in lower traffic areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms and I like to have candles everywhere! I don’t light candles as much as I used to due to having little ones running around the house, but I do light one or two in the evening, particularly if we have guests. Both the candle light and the scent help to add atmosphere.

 

Do you believe in fragrance zoning – e.g. placing different fragrances in different rooms? If so where do you think the Summerdown lemongrass & mint fragrance works best?

 

I actually prefer to have the same scent throughout the house, which doesn’t work with every fragrance. I think the freshness of the Summerdown Lemongrass and Mint fragrance works perfectly throughout the house, particularly in the Summer months or in early Spring as a welcome end to Winter!

 

Do you have any hints and tips on how to position candles and diffusers?

 

I like to place candles and diffusers amongst a cluster of things. On a coffee table, for example, a candle would sit well on a beautiful tray with some coasters, a decorative match holder and a bunch of flowers. I tend to hide diffusers a bit more, making sure they aren’t the only item on show, such as behind a collection of items on a side table.

 

…and finally…. If you were going to design a sitting or bathroom for Summerdown Mint, what would it look like?

 

Off the top of my head for a bathroom, I would probably take inspiration from the scent and suggest a light and fresh theme with a mix of modern and traditional elements. It could feature a restored free standing bath painted in minty tones and modern brass taps. Botanical Fern paintings could hang above it alongside reclaimed wooden floors and simple white walls.

 

Annabelle Holland is an interior design studio specialising in residential projects.

For information visit www.annabelleholland.com email info@annabelleholland.com  

Or follow @annabellehollanddesign on Instagram

 

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Lavender harvest at Summerdown Farms

It doesn’t seem nearly a year ago that we were harvesting the mint on our Hampshire farm and welcoming Anita Rani and the crew from BBC Countryfile to film for their Harvest 2016 special.

But #harvest17 is now in full swing with the unpredictable British weather keeping Farm  Manager Ian on his toes!

 

 

 

Our organic lavender fields before harvest

 

Though the mint harvest is still a fortnight away, this week has been all about the lavender harvest. Many people think Summerdown Farm is just about Black Mitcham peppermint as this is the public face of the Summerdown brand. However behind the scenes the 2,500 acre farm in the foothills of the Hampshire Downs also provides the perfect conditions for growing cereal crops, oilseed rape, organic lavender and camomile. On a sunny Summer’s day, Summerdown Farm really is a magical place with all your senses on full alert.

 

 

 

Harvest has started

 

Our lavender is harvested and distilled in a very similar way to the mint, using the same equipment. As it’s cut, it goes into the cooker tub, (full name mobile distillation unit).

 

 

 

 

An empty cooker tub

 

The tub is filled up with the lavender, and then this same machine is backed into the distillery and steam- distilled over several hours according to Ian’s rigorous process.   An ‘elephant trunk’ on top lets the resulting steam out via a condenser into a pyramid-shape separator that divides it into water and oil.

 

Ian being filmed  getting the steamer ready

 

 

The end result is our organic lavender oil, sold in our online shop and so good that the vast majority is sold to French perfume houses who love the superior quality of our product, and to another well-known luxury British body and bath retailer.

 

Our Organic lavender oil

 

As Farm Manager Ian always has the sustainability of the farm and the distillery front of mind, even the waste water from the distillation process goes off to a local commercial laundry business who uses it to make the pressed laundry smell gorgeous.

 

There’s no place we’d rather be on a Summer’s day, breathing in the heady aromas of Summerdown’s natural herbs.

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