A tea taster from Berkhamsted has travelled the world trying different blends as her job for M&S.
Madeleine Lovett, 28, studied food science and nutrition at university before becoming a product developer for the retailer, specialising in drinks.
She said: “I have always loved food and drink and I am a massive tea-lover.
“I can’t wake up in the morning without a cup of English Breakfast tea.
“I drink it all day really, it keeps me going. And yes, I drink a lot of tea - several thousand cups a year!”
Madeleine’s job includes bringing each product to life, from visiting the tea plantations in India to creating the packaging.
By meeting the people who make the tea, she gets a true perspective on how many people’s lives are affected by a single product.
She said: “I am responsible for everything the customer sees, from what it looks like to what it tastes like.
“On a daily basis I spend a lot of time working with different manufacturers across the world creating new drinks, tasting the products, and creating the packaging for it.
“The most exciting thing is seeing my ideas turn into products on the shelf, and then seeing people buy those products.”
It takes around a year for a drink to be created and launched.
Madeleine said: “For me, it’s Christmas time all year around because I am always working a year ahead on the products.
“But I think the hardest part is the challenge to my tastebuds because I work across different areas, from alcohol to juices.”
Her top criteria for creating teas is that it is all about the way it tastes.
She said: “When creating the tea, it is really all about the flavour, how it is stored, and how fresh it is.
“This year, M&S wanted to grow their support for Macmillan so we created a blend that was suitable to go with a piece of cake that could be suitable to drink in the morning or afternoon.”
Madeleine most recently worked on developing the ‘Macmillan blend’, a light and refreshing blend of Ceylon, Kenyan and East African teas, now in stores with 10 per cent of proceeds being donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.