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News

The stars have aligned for another record haul for Twist in this year’s Great Taste Awards, winning SIX awards and bringing the total number of awards won to date to 21!!

Recognised as a reliable stamp of excellence among consumers, retailers and major food buyers alike, Great Taste is the largest and most trusted food & drink accreditation scheme. 

Since 1994, more than 150,000 products have been put through the robust judging process by the Guild of Fine Food. Each product is fastidiously blind-tasted by selected chefs, cooks, buyers, retailers, restaurateurs, food critics and writers.

The judges look for truly great taste, regardless of branding or packaging, taking into account texture, appearance and of course the quality of the ingredients; they will note a good aroma, a decent bite, or a particularly smooth or crunchy texture. But above all else the question remains – does the product taste truly great?

 


2021 Award Winning Blends from Twist


Restore
🌟🌟
Awarded two stars, the judges had the following to say about our fiery mix of ginger and spices…

“A really interesting blend of flavours, giving a refreshing, creamy aromatic heat. Is a nice alternative to the many lemon and ginger blends on the market. It is great to see ginger being used in another way, working surprisingly well with both lavender and rooibos.”

“A lively blend which combines well. The heat of the ginger is balanced against the aniseed flavour; it is warming, smooth and has good length.”

“A racy blend, lively in the cup. Ginger has immediate impact and works well with the evident, but not overblown lavender. Aniseed comes through more once milk is added – but the infusion works well black, too. Certainly fiery, but with a soothing smoothness once milk is added. A clever and successful blend.”

Chocolate Cake 🌟🌟
Our two star winning blend of Rooibos and cocoa was a real hit with the judges who commented…

“Smooth and gentle with an indulgent-tasting cocoa finish. Rooibos is a complementary partner for cocoa, the naturally sweet characters working well together.”

“The rooibos combines well with the cocoa; the sweetness of the rooibos and the cocoa chocolate notes marry to make a pleasant drink. A simple but excellent blend.”

“A delightful, creamy, soothing blend. The use of both nibs and shells has ensured sound and rounded cacao flavours, well balanced with the intrinsic sweetness of the rooibos. Fine taken black but particularly smooth with milk – a lovely finish either way.”

 

Boost 🌟
Our full-bodied blend of Assam and Ceylon teas with added ginseng really packed a punch with the judging panel who awarded it one star.  Here’s what they had to say:

“A brisk, strong and lively cup. Tasting lovely and fresh with an interesting ‘energising’ concept. Works best with milk, with great redness and colour.”

“An attractive black leaf with a rich and robust character. The North Indian component is the most dominant flavour so the blend lacks balance.”

“Coloury, bright and brisk – this does need milk to round out the flavour profile but it’s an invigorating infusion, and pleasingly full-bodied.”

 

Refresh 🌟
One of our best-sellers, we’re delighted the judges awarded this popular blend of green tea with a star, commenting
“A grapefruit-noted infusion, with citrus perhaps masking the bitterness of the functional herbs. There is an authentic flavour here, and the overall balance is sound.”


Sweet Chai of Mine 🌟

This week we’ve been celebrating National Chai Day and what better way to round off the celebrations than by winning awards for two of our Chai teas!
The judges said that Sweet Chai of Mine was “Well-balanced and a great blend of interesting flavours. The turmeric notes are just right, giving a depth of flavour and rich earthiness. The tea works really well both with and without milk. It’s everything you would want from a chai!”

“A great combination of flavours; the black tea has body and the ginger a discernable heat. The blend is balanced with sweetness and heat. An enjoyable chai drink.”


Chocolate Chai 🌟
Chai has been the drink of choice in India for centuries – but not quite like this! We’ve added cocoa to give it a delicious chocolate hit which was also a hit with the judges!

“The addition of cocoa gives an additional depth and richness to the blend, and adds interest. Well balanced blend of flavours. A bright attractive blend which works well with and without milk.”

“A pleasant chai character but the chocolate notes are lost in this busy spice blend.”

“A bright, light, chai blend with both chilli and cacao rather restrained, but working well in tandem. We found it better with milk, which enhances a sense of milk chocolate on the finish, and softens the chilli prickle – and a little sweetness again helps knit everything together.”

What do the stars mean?

🌟🌟 2 stars: Outstanding – Above and beyond delicious – less than 10% of entries will achieve this rating.
🌟 1-star: Simply delicious – A food that delivers fantastic flavour – approximately 25% of entries will achieve this rating each year.

At Twist, we’re all about taste and as with all our blends, our six award winning blends offer flavour combinations that are innovative, delicious and entirely free from any artificial ingredients or sugar so we are delighted that our blends continue to be recognised as delicious by the Guild of Fine Food.  Try them for yourself and let us know what you think!



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Health & Nutrition, News, University

Aaah, sleep, glorious sleep.  How wonderful it is to drift off to the land of nod, and to arise, refreshed and ready to face the day seven to eight hours later.  But how many people do you know who actually get the optimum amount of sleep? When was the last time you woke up naturally from a deep and nourishing sleep, ready to tackle the day without needing a jolt of caffeine to get you going? 

 

We all have times in which sleep is elusive.  Sometimes it is thankfully only for a short period, but at other times it is painfully prolonged. The events of the past year have played havoc with the sleeping habits of many people. Studies have shown that not enough sleep, or poor quality of sleep, over a extended period can adversely affect our physical and mental health. Not enough sleep can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. 

 

In the UK there are many options for help available for those struggling to sleep, starting with advice from your GP and the NHS.  If you are reading this blog, you may be looking for complimentary ideas to use alongside these proven methods. In this blog we will attempt to answer the following questions and ascertain whether tea can help you to sleep better.

  • The definition of sleep
  • How much sleep do I need?
  • Why can’t I sleep?
  • Sleeping tips
  • Does Twist tea help with sleep?
  • Key UK sleep advice resources

The definition of sleep

Sleep is a tricky concept to pin down.  According to this explanation, ‘sleep is a reversible behavioural state of perceptual disengagement from and unresponsiveness to the environment’. Are you any clearer on what sleep is from that definition?  Nope, neither are we and if the experts are honest, they aren’t exactly sure what it is either.  What is certain, though, is that sleep is vital to our physical and mental wellbeing.

 

Humans used to follow the natural rhythm of daylight, sleeping when it became dark, waking when it became light.  The introduction of electricity and artificial light irrevocably altered our sleeping patterns.  No longer were people required to conduct their evening activities by firelight; instead, they could extend their activities into the night with brighter electric lighting.  Flexible working hours and digital devices have further changed the way in which we sleep, and not always for the better.



How much sleep do i need?

You may ask: how much sleep is enough? 

 

Too often, sleep is something that gets relegated to the bottom of the ‘To Do’ list.  We all have a lot that we try to fit into our day, and sometimes these tasks eat into our sleep time.  Are you one of those people guilty of sleep procrastination?  You know, when you realise it’s getting late, but you want to finish the movie/get to the exciting part of your book/wade through all of your social media sites/have another drink at the pub because it’s your only chance all day to do these important things?

 

According to the NHS, most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night.  By calculating back from the time that you need to get up in the morning, it is possible to work out the optimum time to get to sleep.

 

Sounds simple enough.  But what if you just can’t get to sleep at that time?

 

Why can’t I sleep?

There are many reasons for not being able to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep problems can be caused by one, or several factors.

 

Anxiety or depression and sleep

Anxiety and stress often rob us of our sleep and there has been plenty to worry about during the past year. Juggling concerns over work, childcare, schooling, and the health of our loved ones has had a detrimental effect on our sleep. According to Sleepstation, an online sleep help program endorsed by the NHS, ‘one of the most important factors needed for good sleep is a quiet mind. You cannot sleep if your mind is racing, or you are worried or stressed’.  Additionally, people can become anxious about sleep itself. Once you are aware that you might have a problem getting enough sleep, it can become something else to worry about and sleep can become more elusive than ever.

 

Depression can also leave many people unable to sleep, or unable to get out of bed.  Sleeping more than our recommended six to nine hours per night is also not advised.

 

Digital devices and sleep

We all know that we spend far too much time on our digital devices these days.  With many facets of our lives increasingly online, it is hard to escape and switch off.   But escape from it (briefly) we must each day if we are to get a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from our phones, tablets and computers affect the release of melatonin, a hormone that prepares our bodies for sleep.  Ideally, we should turn these devices off one hour before we need to be asleep, preferably leaving them outside our bedrooms, and instead pick up a book, have a relaxing bath or have a warm, non-alcoholic drink (more on this later).

 

Too much caffeine and sleep

Found in tea, coffee, chocolate, soft drinks and some medication, caffeine is great for giving us that energy boost we crave, usually when very tired.  But it can have a downside: caffeine is addictive, meaning the more we drink it the more we crave it, thus a vicious circle is formed.  Some people are affected more by caffeine than others and can experience headaches, heart palpitations, upset stomach, as well as insomnia.  Because of its stimulating effect, the NHS recommends that we don’t eat or drink anything containing caffeine in the four to five hours before bed.

 

Not enough exercise and sleep

Regular exercise is important on so many levels. We need it to keep our hearts, bones and muscles healthy and strong.  Regular exercise also benefits our mental health and can have an impact on the quality of our sleep.  The World Health Organisation recommends that adults have between 150-300 minutes per week of moderate exercise.  Moderate exercise includes cycling, swimming, walking, running and group activities such as tennis and football.

 

It makes sense that getting regular exercise will have an impact on our sleep quality as it expends our energy and makes us tired.  It’s important to remember that some exercise is better than no exercise, even if it’s a simple walk each day.  Evidence shows that the relationship between exercise and sleep is interlinked: poor sleep leads to lack of energy and a reduction of exercise, which can then lead to more poor sleep. However, while it is important to exercise in order to improve our sleep quality, we need to remember not to exercise too vigorously just before bed as it leads to a rise in hormones such as cortisol, which can interfere with sleep.

 

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe how we might create a space (ideally a bedroom) that will help us to achieve a good night’s sleep.  This includes the following:

  • Ensure that you have a comfortable mattress.
  • Ensure that your bedroom is the right temperature, not too hot or too cold, 18 degrees Celsius is recommended as a guide.  
  • Try not to have a TV in your room and try not to have any digital devices in there either.  If you use your phone for an alarm, consider changing to an old-fashioned alarm clock.  If you read books on a kindle app, try switching to night mode to reduce the back light.
  • If possible, limit the amount of light coming in from the windows, either with curtains or with an eye mask.  Equally, if your room is noisy consider using ear plugs for sleeping.



Sleeping tips

Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a single, magic pill we can take to ensure a good night’s sleep. It seems that we need to look at several lifestyle factors.  The NHS recommends that we do the following:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. (try to establish a bedtime routine that can help prompt or remind your body that it is time to sleep. You might also find it helps to keep a sleep diary, particularly when trying to establish a bedtime routine that works for you).
  • Try not to eat or drink anything containing caffeine in the four to five hours before bed.
  • Try not to nap during the day.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise two hours before bed. Light exercise such as yoga or stretching is ok.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.

 

If, after trying these methods you still cannot sleep, it is important to seek professional help from your GP.



Does (Twist) tea help with sleep?

Tea is undoubtedly good for us.  First discovered in China almost 5000 years ago, tea is a drink brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Tea can be classified into black, green, white, oolong and Pu-erh teas. All tea types contain antioxidant properties which can help to protect us from heart disease and some types of cancer as well as boosting our energy and concentration levels.

 

Herbal teas are not tea in the technical sense as they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant.  The correct term is tisane; however, we often refer to them as tea because we brew them in much the same way. Popular herbal teas include peppermint, chamomile, lavender, ginger, and rooibos. Like traditional teas, herbal teas offer many health benefits and are largely caffeine-free. 

 

So can tea help with sleep? While tea has much to offer us in terms of health benefits, we must be honest and admit that it is not the only solution to getting a good night’s sleep.  However, at Twist we believe tea can help with sleep, especially when used in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle habits.

 

Chamomile tea

Chamomile is a herb that produces daisy-like flowers. The tea brewed from the dried Chamomile flowers has been used for centuries as a natural treatment for insomnia. It is naturally caffeine-free, making it ideal for drinking at any time of day. Chamomile contains apigenin, a phytonutrient that has a sleep-inducing effect. Chamomile is also thought to help reduce stress and anxiety and some have described it as being a ‘mild tranquilizer’Discover the benefits of Chamomile tea.

Chamomile Tea can help you sleep
Twist Teas’
Sleep Tea blend is a soothing mix of whole chamomile flower heads, lemon balm, valerian, and lavender. Lemon balm, valerian and lavender have been used for centuries to treat ailments including insomnia and anxiety.  While further study is required to determine exactly how this works, the addition of these herbs undoubtedly enhances this aromatic brew.




A hot drink before bed

Creating an evening ritual for yourself, including enjoying a hot drink, is mentioned in many sleep help guides.  If chamomile is not your cup of tea, brew yourself a Chocolate Cake Tea and top it with frothy milk for a soothing rooibos hot chocolate.  Rooibos is a herb native to South Africa that is naturally caffeine-free and is known for its health benefits.  Our Chocolate Cake tea has the bonus of no added sugar, meaning you can enjoy a completely guilt-free pre-sleep treat.


Caffeine and sleep

At Twist Teas we have lots of delicious caffeinated blends but these are probably not the ones you should be reaching for when finding it difficult to sleep. 


Health experts believe it is ok to consume up to 400mg of caffeine, the equivalent of four to five cups of tea or coffee, per day. If you consume more caffeine than this every day, sleep specialists agree that it is a good idea to reduce your caffeine intake.  It can be difficult reducing your caffeine intake to zero and might be unnecessary too (unless you are experiencing extreme reactions to it). Before we look at obvious caffeine-free and reduced caffeine options, we are going to go out on a limb and suggest that changing the type of caffeinated drink you consume might have a bearing on your sleep quality…


Pure Matcha Green Tea

Matcha, a powdered green tea, contains an equivalent level of caffeine per cup than espresso coffee due to the way in which matcha tea is grown. Yet the caffeine in matcha affects us differently to the way that the caffeine in coffee does.  There is a synergy between caffeine and L-theanine (an amino acid present in matcha) which allows for a slow-release of energy. This contrasts with the quick boost of energy followed by a sharp drop in energy often experienced following a strong coffee. Furthermore L-theanine and caffeine work together to reduce stress and improve concentration.  A very good reason to replace your morning coffee with a cup of nutrient-dense matcha instead.



And now on to those reduced caffeine and caffeine-free tea options!


The NHS recommends abstaining from eating or drinking anything containing caffeine during the 4-5 hours before bedtime.  If you still feel the craving for a cup of black tea during the late afternoon or evening, Pure Rooibos can provide a delicious alternative.  A herb native to South Africa, Rooibos is has a nutty, full-bodied taste and it is naturally caffeine-free. If you like our Pure Rooibos, you might like to try our other Rooibos blends, all caffeine-free and with no added sugar.


Decaffeinated tea is another option that makes it possible to reduce our caffeine intake without abandoning black tea altogether. Twist’s All Day Decaf, another award-winning tea comprises premium, organic Sri Lankan Black Tea treated with liquid carbon dioxide to remove caffeine.  This harmless process does not diminish the flavour.  Other decaf teas are rinsed in Methylene Chloride, primarily used as an industrial solvent and paint stripper. Fancy a cup? No, us neither…

 

Hydration and sleep

A 2019 study has shown that there is a correlation between sleep length and dehydration

The study found that people are more likely to wake up dehydrated if they have had less than eight hours’ sleep.  For most of us, dehydration leads to headaches, difficulty in concentration, irritability, and dizziness.  There is no doubt that staying properly hydrated is necessary for maintaining our physical health.  The NHS recommends that we drink between six to eight glasses of fluid per day to stay hydrated.

Cold Bew Tea Bags UK


If we are trying to eliminate as many factors as possible in our quest to get a good nights’ sleep, it can’t hurt to try to drink the right amount of water during the day. However drinking enough water to stay fully hydrated can get, well, boring can’t it. Cold Brew Teas
can be a delicious alternative to plain water.  At Twist we have a wide selection of innovative blends of the finest whole leaf teas, fruits and herbs that have been carefully created to taste as great brewed cold as they do hot.  Perfect for enjoying during the warm summer months, our cold brew blends differ from traditional iced tea as they have no added sugar or artificial sweeteners and many of them are naturally caffeine-free. Cold Brew teas make it easy to reach your daily 2 litre quota, without worrying about consuming too much sugar or caffeine.



Conclusions

If you are having trouble getting to sleep, or with getting enough sleep each night, it is important that you seek help from your GP or healthcare professional.   At Twist we do not believe that tea is the only solution to sleeping better but the choices we make in terms of what we eat and drink during the day, including the tea you chose and when you drink it, seems likely to have some bearing on how well we sleep.  Whether you wish to trade the jitters of your morning coffee for the smooth energy boost of a matcha, or would like to reduce your caffeine intake altogether by considering Rooibos, decaffeinated tea or fruit and herbal teas, Twist has a blend for all options! 

 

Key UK sleep advice resources

NHS https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/how-to-get-to-sleep/ 

Sleepstation https://www.sleepstation.org.uk/ 

Mental Health https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-sleep-better 

Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/sleep-problems/tips-to-improve-your-sleep/ 

 

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News

On Friday 25 June 2021 (also National Cream Tea Day) Twist Teas Founder Claire Ayres invited MP for Hitchin & Harpenden Bim Afolami to visit the Twist Teas offices, to mark the company’s employment of six young people as part of the government Kickstart Scheme. 

“Bim actively champions local business and supports young people so we thought he would be the perfect guest to mark this milestone for our business. It was also a great opportunity for our new employees to give their feedback to Bim on the scheme so far,” said Claire.

Support for independent British businesses

Talking to Bim, who is championing business recovery across his constituency, Claire praised shoppers for wholeheartedly backing independent British businesses during the pandemic. “The nationwide support was a key factor in getting many independent British businesses through lockdowns. We are very grateful to our tea lovers who chose to buy their premium whole leaf tea from us online and, because Twist Teas are leaders in taste, they’ve kept on buying,” said Claire.


Kickstart win win

Twist Teas are pleased to be in a position to give back in a small way by contributing to the post pandemic recovery. The government grant means Twist can employ young people, teach them work life skills for their future, and grow our business.

Twist Teas created six roles especially for local young people at risk of long-term unemployment to provide them with valuable on the job experience and training opportunities, for example a CV bootcamp run by Foodchain Recruitment, so they can develop the skills necessary to progress into fulfilling careers.

As a Living Wage Accredited employer Twist Teas top up the government grant for all Kickstart employees to ensure that they’re paid the Real Living Wage during their placements with us.



High calibre recruits

Claire has been impressed by the exceptional calibre of the applicants. “Our new trainees have various career ambitions, but all of them are keen to gain invaluable sales and marketing experience which they know is vital to secure longer term work in their chosen industries.  We hope that new business generated by the Kickstarters will grow turnover enough to create new permanent roles for staff.”


Improving the Kickstart Scheme

Bim had the opportunity to meet some of Twist Teas’ new sales and marketing staff and talked to them about their experiences. He was particularly interested in ways to help improve the scheme. “I’m working with the Chancellor to make the Kickstart Scheme easier for both businesses and young people to access so welcome any feedback. I was told today by the Twist Teas team that Kickstart candidates often struggle to get to interviews as transport can be expensive, and daily travel costs can also be prohibitive. This sounds like an opportunity for the government to step in and help – it was a very useful discussion.”


Working at Twist Teas

24 year old Jess Gray told Bim how much she loves the opportunity to get sales experience in such a friendly environment. “I’m learning about researching and contacting suitable leads, telephone technique and establishing rapport with the people I speak to. We also have a weekly office challenge to see how many sales leads and conversions we can generate, so there is healthy competition, helping us to learn from each other,” she said. 


Tea for the environment

Bim also has a priority to protect the environment and he was very pleased to note how Twist Teas is minimising their business impact on the planet, without compromising on delivering the best possible tasting tea to tea lovers. As his visit coincided with National Cream Tea Day, Bim was invited to taste a range of fresh, whole leaf teas – served with strawberries and scones (of course!) – announcing his favourite was Twenty-Four-Seven and taking home a surprise caddy to his wife Hettie.

You can read more about Bim’s visit to Twist Teas in the Herts Advertiser

 

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