Tea – about variety and perfection.
5 questions for … Heike Lohbeck.
‘Product development that involves all the senses’ is a pretty good way to describe tea expert Heike Lohbeck’s job. She has combined, discovered and reinterpreted many different flavours to create the Avoury tea blends – so that we can enjoy extraordinary cups of tea.
In our interview, she tells us how the tea revolution began, what makes tea taste great and how the Avoury One delivers perfect tea at the touch of a button.
Heike, as a product developer, you’ve helped develop Avoury’s unique tea blends. What makes the range so special?
What’s exciting about creating the Avoury range is that we’re completely reinterpreting tea as a lifestyle product. We’re breaking away from old clichés about tea and aligning it with a totally new approach to life. However, if you think our 40 different high-quality premium teas come from a large number of exotic plants, you’d be wrong. The floral notes in our white teas, the astringency of our green tea, the mild, creamy notes in our oolong and the full-bodied taste of our black tea all have their origin in the same ‘mother’ plant – the Camellia sinensis. It’s the different ways in which they are cultivated and processed that makes them so diverse.
We also develop fruit and herbal infusions – the possibilities are almost endless, with each tea as individual as its taste profile. Our product development department has also been inspired by various trends. Just to take an example - if you like fruity, tart flavours, you’ll love our BITTER ORANGE tea. The bitter-sweet combination of orange peel and roasted chicory root takes you back to relaxed summer days. In our MORINGA MANGO blend, we combine the superfood moringa with the fantastic flavour of mango, turning a herbal infusion into a truly delicious health drink. Even classics like camomile and earl grey have been given some uniquely special touches, making them treats you can enjoy every day. Our camomile tea blend, THE CAMOMILE, not only tastes great, it also looks beautiful: we use whole camomile flowers, which can be seen in the transparent capsules.
“It’s fun trying out the different concoctions, developing teas that appeal to all the senses and eventually holding a completely new blend in your hands – a dream for me as a product developer!”
You’re the woman behind the great taste of the Avoury tea blends. What’s important to you when it comes to great-tasting tea?
High-quality ingredients, of course – the same as for cookery. It’s particularly important to me that only natural ingredients and high-quality, certified tea are used. When we developed the blends, we combined the various ingredients in different proportions and sampled them again and again. Particularly when it comes to infusions, there’s an unlimited number of possible variations. In other words, we’ve tried lots of things and professionally ‘slurped’ vast quantities of tea to get the perfect result in the cup. However, it isn’t only the right combination of high-quality ingredients that has a huge impact on the taste, but also the amount of tea in a capsule. Brewing temperature and steeping time also play their part in changing the intensity of the taste. As a tea connoisseur, I’m looking for the perfect taste – that’s why it’s always a case of staying thirsty, and of testing and creating again until the blend is perfect.
That’s the best thing about my job: there are always new flavours and nuances to discover! I like to try new tastes – with all my senses – and am always finding inspiration in everyday situations too. As a product developer, I’m a huge fan of innovation.
It takes a lot of patience and expertise to achieve this level of perfection. What’s your favourite tea from this large selection?
In the mornings, I like to drink our classic black and green teas like the PREMIUM DARJEELING or the fresh SUPREME GYOKURO. In the afternoons, I like to change things up a bit with a fruit or herbal infusion.
Of course, it’s hard to choose a favourite when there’s so much passion and development history behind each of the 40 blends. But my absolute favourite tea is PEARLS OF JASMINE. I love not only the luscious scent of jasmine blossom, but also the way the tea is processed: once the tea leaves have been picked, the tea growers place jasmine blossoms on them so they can transfer their scent to the tea before it’s processed further. What I love the most is that our tea is then rolled into small pearls. Once prepared, it’s very easy to see that ‘two leaves and a bud’ have been picked. Thanks to the transparent capsules, you can see the quality as well as taste it. Our TRIPLE MINT blend is very popular with customers. This mint tea is a classic herbal infusion and combines the best of flavours from three types of mint: spearmint, peppermint and apple mint.
But even the best tea blend needs to be prepared correctly, as this has a huge effect on the taste, doesn’t it? We’ve probably all done it – left the teabag in the cup for too long or brewed the tea too hot and ended up with a drink that tastes bitter and unpleasant. What does the Avoury One get right here?
In short: everything. A lot of innovation and expertise has gone into the Avoury One – as well as the many litres of tea drunk during the development phase. It’s not just about the right blend of ingredients, but also the brewing temperature, quantity of tea and steeping time – everything that makes tea taste great! Tea drinkers will be familiar with the specific requirements of different teas – there’s actually a lot of things to consider. And we’ve incorporated these very things into our coded recyclable capsules. Once the capsules are inserted, the Avoury One immediately recognises the tea type, and prepares every tea exactly in accordance with its requirements. Even supposedly tricky green tea can be prepared successfully. We, the tea drinkers, don’t have to do anything special and don’t have to resign ourselves to tea that tastes bitter or insipid. The water also plays an important role here. That’s why all our tea machines come with a water filter that has been specially developed by Avoury to help prepare each tea according to its requirements.
Time is key when it comes to tea: is there a right time to drink it? We’re currently having a particularly hot summer. How do tea drinking and hot temperatures go together?
We all know how important it is to drink plenty of fluids – and not only in the summer. While in other countries it’s customary to drink warm tea even when temperatures are high, here in Germany we reach for cold drinks when in need of refreshment. If you don’t want to drink hot tea in the summer, you can still make tea with the Avoury One in the usual way, allow it to cool and then use it to create refreshing drinks. I highly recommend the tocktail recipes on our website, which include ingredient lists and tips on how to garnish and serve your drinks. Tocktails are tea-based cocktails and a category that Avoury is revolutionising by making tea extremely easy to prepare. If you like, you can garnish our tocktails with fresh berries, fruits or herbs and serve them in a stylish glass. Not only will they be deliciously refreshing, but they’ll also look great – just they way we like it and a treat for all the senses.