Hello, my name is Julien, and I have been a flavorist at Léa Nature for the past five years. My job consists in finding the right flavors for our products. For the past 3 years, I have also been piloting the teas and herbal infusions produced under the Jardin BiO’ label, from the initial plant mix to the final addition of natural flavors, if needed.
I work with natural flavors, it is a basic premise in organic product regulations. For such products as cookies, chocolate and drinks, when the raw material in itself does not provide sufficient flavor, I compensate for that with natural aromas from plants, fruit, spices and aromatic plants.
When manufacturing diet products or dietary supplements such as sugar-free cookies, or sweets with no added sugar, or a Vitamin C tablet, the role of flavoring is extremely important et provides a sweet or salty taste. That’s what my job is all about: offering incredibly tasty products, that are visually attractive and delicious to eat, even when they contain no sugar or no salt, or when the basic raw materials are not that tasty in the first place. Those are the challenges I face pretty regularly.
I also add natural flavors to teas or herbal infusions, to compensate for or to cover bitter/sharp flavors such as those produced by hibiscus, dandelion or green tea, so as to ensure that the product delivers on its promises while tasting just right for our customers. For mint green tea, for instance, I use pure mint in the form of the juice I extract from peppermint. This is definitely not an artificial flavor developed in a lab.
What I find interesting is creating a link between natural flavors, essential oils and aromatic plants.
Creating flavors and offering mixtures that are not usually considered together. “Thinking outside the box” allows us to offer innovative products such as our GREEN DETOX TEA WITH RED ORANGE or our “JOY IN A CUP” HERBAL TEA.
Before adding any flavors, I organise product tastings with in-house teams of plant experts who are in charge of the sensory qualities of the product.
All incoming raw materials are also checked by our quality control services. For each new batch of plants we receive, I set up sensory tests to verify the quality of the flavors, which may be affected by climate conditions, soil characteristics, and harvesting conditions. That way, before we even start thinking about adding flavor, we know that our raw material is of excellent quality.
When I receive flavorings, I also do some sensory testing on them (taste, dilution, dosage, etc.) in order to understand them fully and to blend them accordingly into products. With experience, I now know pretty quickly if a particular flavoring is up to standard or not.
The initial idea was to create a herbal tea with 20 ingredients, to celebrate LÉA NATURE’S 20th birthday. That was quite a challenge because in general we rarely have more than 7 or 8 ingredients in our teas and infusions, and even with that amount it is difficult to distinguish flavors enough to be able to identify them all.
So working with 20 plants, fruits and flowers, I started playing with dosing aromas based on a dominant duo of flavors, and after about 50 trials, “Joy in a Cup” was born. It is a totally innovative product, both in its content and in its container. It was so well appreciated by our customers that we are still producing it.
Promoting a positive image of flavorings within LÉA NATURE through the use of natural aromas which make our products extra savory. We realized that consumers of organic foods expect to have products that are as flavorful as any traditional product. Nowadays, we often consider whether we want to add a flavor, or maybe a mix of flavors, to our products.
Mint Green Tea and “Joy in a Cup” Herbal Tea.