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No cameras please!  Speak to our agent!  Have your people speak to our people!

Pretty sure that’s how it works now we’re big time celebrities after our prime-time interview on the radio last week, on the BBC 3 Counties Radio lunchtime show. 

Okay, that’s a little tongue in cheek, but forgive us for feeling quite excited as we were invited onto the Nick Coffer show to have a tea tasting and tell the story of good ole Twist.  It’s funny how things pan out…  Nick and his producer Jonny found themselves at a colleague’s leaving party at a pub in Flamstead, Herts, pretty much halfway between the studio in Dunstable and Twist HQ in Harpenden.  This pub (The Spotted Dog, highly recommended) serves Twist, and our blends were really well received.  The show likes to talk to local brands, so we got the invite to do a tea tasting, live on the radio. Cool.

So, two of the three founders, Claire and Fraser (someone had to mind the shop back at base so Nicky got that particular short straw) headed off to studios armed with loads of blends and a kettle (which we left there – d’oh).  We were feeling fairly relaxed until a chat with producer Jonny just before we went on air, when he mentioned that the show gets about 100,000 listeners. So, no pressure there then.

So, how did it go?  Find out for yourself, here . We’re on from about 1hr 18mins, just after the Beach Boys. (A Beach Boys record, not them actually live in the studio, obvs.)
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News
You may have seen some unpleasant reports in the media about hidden plastic in teabags. Nasty stuff.
If you missed it, have a read on the BBCMetro and the Guardian

Rest assured, our teabags don’t contain any plastic at all, and haven’t, from day one. None. Nadda. 

The survey – or, at least, the way its findings were reported, were rather misleading. It was conducted using  pyramid teabags made from nylon. Twist teabags however, and the string attached, are made from cornsilk, the little threads that come from the top of an ear of corn. Perfectly natural, no badness involved. The tags are paper, and these get heat-sealed onto the string, so no glue required. And the teabags are sealed using ultrasound, which causes vibration and fusion as a result. Clever huh?

This means that it’s all biodegradable – although this can take quite a while. Sam, who is husband/dad to Nicky and Claire, our mother/daughter founder combo, put some on his compost pile and it took three months to biodegrade. (And, when he went outside to show Nicky that they had nearly gone, she went off on one about the weeds elsewhere in the garden so he’s not tried it since in case it happens again.) Instead, it’s best just to put them in your food waste and let your council deal with it, as their industrial waste systems have the right micro-organisms to help the process along.

Our inner bags are made of Natureflex, which is compostable, so that can just be put in your compost bin. Our boxes and labels are made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, and our caddies are made from tinplate and aluminium. So, if ever you decide to stop filling them with Twist Tea refills (which would be madness, why would you do that?!), they can be reused for storing buttons, pens, sweets, shoes*, or failing that put out with your recycling.

Another way in which the media coverage was misleading was by suggesting that traditional tea bags are composed only of paper.  #FakeNews (although in this case it actually is fake news, rather than the type of fake news that is actually not fake but an orange buffoon with a shredded wheat on his head says it’s fake): traditional tea bags contain around 25% plastic, which is needed to fuse the material together, as this is done by heating the plastic so it melts and sticks together.

So, the bottom line. Our tea tastes great, but doesn’t harm the environment either, so you can enjoy it absolutely guilt-free.

*not shoes. Unless you have really small feet.
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News, Uncategorized
A few months back, we submitted a few of our blends to the Guild of Fine Foods’ Great Taste Awards.  The awards are judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, buyers, retailers and producers, as well as a whole host of food writers and journalists.

These folk know their onions – and their teas – so Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers. As well as a badge of honour, the unmistakable black and gold Great Taste label is a signpost to a wonderful tasting product, which has been discovered through hours and hours of blind tasting by hundreds of judges.   

So, in addition to those that won awards last year (check them out here), here are the new blends that have shot to the top of the class.

Lemongrass & Coconut


This caffeine-free blend smells, tastes and looks stunning, and is delicious whether served hot or cold. (Or even when made into a jelly – check out our recipe here).  The judges said “A stunning blue colour, very unusual and novel, very fresh and lively with a hint of fruitiness and a strong lemon which give it a good balance. Intriguing for sure.” Aw, thanks judges!  Order Lemongrass & Coconut here.

Pure Rooibos

Pronounced ‘Roy-Boss’, this rich, nutty brew with a dark copper hue is naturally caffeine-free. According to the Great Taste Judges, it has a “nice bright smell with hints of vanilla and the liquor is a deep copper/amber colour. The aroma is lovely.” And they should know, right? Order Pure Rooibos here

Classic Earl

We’ve taken our popular Earl Great and given it more oomph by increasing the amount of high-grown Sri Lankan tea in each cup. Said the judges, “A bright, brisk and astringent base tea. Not a typical Earl Grey expression, almost jasmine-noted, but the overall feel was pleasing.” Order Classic Earl here

With Great Taste Awards regarded as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, we’re so chuffed to now have awards for 10 of our blends. Ultimately, our teas are all about taste and it’s for this, rather than branding and packaging, that these awards recognise. (The fact that our packaging is so lovely is just an added bonus.)

Winning awards is lovely, no doubt about it. But ultimately. we just create teas that we hope that our customers will love.  That, rather than gongs and medals, is what it’s all about. Chin chin!

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Here at Twist HQ – like so many others across the UK and beyond – we were delighted to welcome the arrival of Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince Harry and Meghan’s little boy. 
 
And, with the Royal Family back in the spotlight, we thought it would be a good opportunity to launch our delicious Royal Tea’ blend, created at the personal request of HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and share how it came about.
 
It’s a long story, but it starts with us sending some samples of our tea to a number of publishers and broadcasters in London, in the hope that they’d like them and mention them to their readers.  Luckily, they pretty much all did.
 
The editor of one magazine we approached was SO impressed that he went on a bit of a crusade on our behalf. He just happened to be an acquaintance of Princess Michael of Kent – it’s fairly standard to have members of the royal family on speed dial, right? – and said:

“Ooh, I’ll tell you what, that Princess Michael of Kent loves her tea. Can’t get enough of it. How’s about I take her some to try, see if she likes it?”


(Or words to that effect. He’s a top journo so writes much better than this, obvs.)

He does.. and she does.  Next thing we know, we’ve been summonsed to Kensington Palace to give her a proper tea tasting.  We put on our finery, get our hair done, practice our curtsying and bowing and there we are, in a beautiful drawing room, talking through some of our collection.  We were absolutely delighted that she really loved what she tasted – so much so that she decided to serve them at a garden party last summer.
 
During our discussion, we asked her what scents and flavours she liked, and it turns out she’s a big fan of rose and cinnamon.  She asked if we could create a blend that combined the too, and we duly did.  What else could we call it but Royal Tea?
 
Initially, we only created a small batch, and have been sending samples to members of our Tea Club or to a handful of the hotels, cafes and restaurants we supply.  But, feedback has been so good so we’ve ramped up production and added it to our range. It’s a caffeine-free fruity and floral blend that includes pear and apple, orange peel and hibiscus as in addition to the Princess’s favourites, rose and cinnamon. Why not try some and see if you like it; you’ll be moving in lofty circles if you do!
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News


Here at Twist, we don’t like standing still. So, no sooner had we launched our website back in September, preparations were underway to enhance our product range with some new products to help create Christmas with a Twist in the houses of our customers, their friends and families.

And what’s more, many of these products are a direct result of feedback from our customers, which makes them all the more special.

“Your teas look amazing, but I don’t know which to choose” you said. “Leave it with us”, we said.


And lo and behold, our Tasting Menu was born: one caddy, sixteen different teabags, one heck of a great way to try out the whole range.  It’s been super-popular, both as a treat for customers and an innovative gift for their friends.

“Your teas make GREAT presents – do you do any gift sets?” you said.  “On it”, we said.

And thus were born our Selection Boxes,  in which our tea sommelier carefully curates four or six teas that work really well together.  Absolutely Minted brings together (you guessed it) four minty teas, from our black tea, rooibos and herbal ranges. The caffeine-free Digestifs Selection Box is great after dinner, the Puds Without Sin Selection Box is perfect for some self-indulgence without the guilt, and the Fruit & Herbal and Black Tea Selection Boxes do exactly what it says on the tin. (That’s quite a nice turn of phrase. Wonder if anyone’s used it before?)

“I’d love to buy a big box of all my favourite brews” you said.  “We’ve got you”, we said.

Everyone likes something made just for them, and that’s where our Pick & Mix Selection Boxes come into their own. You choose which teas you’d like, whether you’d like loose leaf or teabags, and we create your own bespoke Selection Box with an elegant, personalised label on the caddy. These are flying off the shelves at the moment (not literally, that would make a right old mess of our stock room), as customers look for innovative, high quality, affordable gifts for friends and family, teachers, colleagues, employees and clients.

Finally, we couldn’t let Christmas pass without creating a couple of limited edition blends that are perfect for the festive season.  So, check out Brewdolph and Mulled Wine – and get them while they’re hot!

Thanks so much for all your feedback, as without it we might not have created all these lovely products. Keep it coming, and enjoy!  

 
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News


It’s been a busy few months here at Twist. Much has happened since we last blogged, so here’s a bit of an update.

The feedback from our focus group in February reassured us that we were along the right lines with our product range and our branding. So, the next stage was to roll it out.  Our design agency did a cracking job of designing our packaging, and the identity was rolled out across various formats, from boxes to pouches to caddies. We even had some branded mugs created, just because…

Then, the legwork began. Armed with samples, we took ourselves off to dozens of local delis and cafes…  And, we were delighted that, without fail, they all absolutely loved our teas and were confident their customers would too.  Of course, some were already in long-term deals with other brands, which is fair enough. However,  there many immediately decided we were a great fit with their customers and got us on board. How strange it was to drop in to the local bakery we’ve been visiting for years, to see it serving our tea!



Getting the teas ‘out there’ created a bit of a domino effect.  Within a matter of days, we received an email from the manager of a local gastro-pub:
“I just had a cup of your mint humbug at Simmons and would love to serve it in the Engineer. How do I go about doing so?”
Soon, we were supplying them,  and a number of other pubs too.

“Café Culture” has been a real phenomenon of late, with customers looking to recreate their experiences in cafes etc at home.  So, it was nice but not overly surprising that a number of people who’d had our teas in such establishments got in touch, asking where they could buy it.  Fortunately, some of these cafes were also delis, so they began retailing teabags in boxes for consuming at home too.

The plan has always been for Twist to be available to customers as widely as possible. Our website will be launched later in the year, and all our blends will be available direct from it. And, excitingly, we are in discussions with a number of national retailers and hope to be available on high streets across the UK soon.  Watch this space!
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tray of taste cups

Today was an exciting day for Twist, as we gathered a group of target customers and asked them to taste our teas. And – good news! – they really liked them.

Our Tea Sommelier Angela brewed up half a dozen blends from our range:


Our tasters blind-tasted the Classics against some competitor products, and ours were really well received. They liked the rich colour and the strong aroma and said that they would have been more than happy to taste these teas in cafes and restaurants. 

When we mentioned the twists (in this case, the addition of ginseng and yerba mate to Breakfast Boost to help kick-start the day and a slightly smaller cut of leaf to brew TwentyFourSeven a little quicker), they were very impressed. They felt the taste of TwentyFourSeven could be a little stronger, so we’re taking that on board and are going to increase the tea content a touch so we get it spot on. Thanks for the input!

female tester
Next, the Puds without Sin, and the taste of these was a real hit.  The tasters couldn’t believe that there was absolutely no added sugar or sweeteners and loved the playful blend of flavours. Some of our tasters were ready to buy loads of it right there and then (but they’ll have to wait until we’ve gone into full production. Sorry!)

We then moved on to Cold Brews, which they tested comparison to the kinds of soft drinks they might ordinarily drink themselves or serve to their children.  Again, the taste of these a real winner, and with their mum-hats on, the tasters were really excited to have an alternative to sugary drinks and smoothies that their children would absolutely love.  We’re going to create another Cold Brew blend, as we think there are other flavour combinations that would work just as well, whether for adults or children.

twist mug caddy
Finally, we gave them a sneak preview of our brand name, logo and packaging.  Another hit!  They loved how unfussy and clean the packaging was and thought the hidden T-mug in the logo was really clever and worked very well with the concept that our teas have a hidden something that makes them different from other teas on the market. Yay! We’d like to thank all those who took part. We really valued your input… keep your eyes peeled for the finished product coming to a retailer or café near you shortly.
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