Have you ever had a tea so fragrant and delicious that you wish you could bottle its essence up and make perfume out of it? When I came across some Sloane Teas in Toronto last year I realized how tea is actually the culinary version of perfume. While I can’t blend my own perfumes, what I can do is make soap out of tea! With a trip to the health food store, an easy-to-use soap base, and some favorite steeps, you can create rustic, nourishing tea soaps in so many shapes and varieties!
Rose Bud Herbal, Earl Grey Black Tea, Lavender Herbal, and Sencha Matcha Green Tea are some blends that I love to drink. I thought that these teas would also make some refreshing soap blends because of their unique fragrances and cosmetic appeal. While rose and lavender buds give off the prettiest shades of color, black and green teas have excellent exfoliating properties.
When I originally thought of making tea soap, I was going to do it the authentic way, with olive oil, coconut oil, and one very mysterious ingredient–lye. After doing some research I realized that going the lye-based route wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be. Apparently, gloves and goggles are a must when you work with this corrosive product. At the word “saponify,” I closed out of the “how-to” You Tube video I was watching and decided to hit up my local craft store for some olive oil soap base, a microwaveable soap that’s amazingly convenient and easy-to-use.
If you’ve been to the beauty section of your health food store, you’ll most certainly encounter essential oils. These oils are concentrated scents commonly used in combination with lotions and creams for moisturizing skin. The scents are pure and often organic. A few drops pack a powerful punch of scent. As yummy as they smell, keep in mind that essential oils aren’t made for culinary uses. Essential oils are oil-based and will carry scent for a long period of time where food extracts (like vanilla, rose water, or orange blossom water) won’t.
Keep the size, shape, and roughness of your tea choices in mind when you are making tea soaps. For my selections, I ended up ripping and destemming the rose buds before adding them into the soap base. My earl grey tea was pulsed in a spice grinder to create smaller bits–not as nice looking as the herbals, but much more effective as an exfoliant. The buds and leaves of the lavender and green tea were softer and small enough that I didn’t have to alter them in any way. Tea from tea bags also work well in tea soaps, as the leaves have often been cut and torn into smaller bits.
Without sounding too much like a lady of the backwoods, I’d like to mention that making tea soap is actually an incredibly fun and rewarding craft project. It’s a fantastic way to use up any leftover teas that are sitting in the back of your tea cabinet or other teas that for some reason don’t please your palette. Tea soaps make simple party favors, decorative bath accents, or a simple, fresh burst of daily aromatherapy to brighten your day.
DIY Tea Soaps
What You’ll Need:
essential oils/ tea powders ( I used rose, bergamot, lavender, and match green tea powder)
leaf teas or herbals (I used rose buds, earl grey, lavender, and sencha)
soap or silicone molds (just any plastic mold with an inner smooth surface will do)
microwave safe medium or large mixing bowl
spoons for stirring
dough cutter or knife (for cutting chunks off of soap base brick)
parchment paper and twine (optional)
1.) Looking at your soap mold(s), estimate the amount of soap base you will need to fill the molds. Use a dough cutter or other dull cutting tool to cut off chunks of the soap base. You can also use a knife to do this, just be careful as the soap can be sticky and slippery to the touch.
2.) After you’ve cut off the amount of soap base you need, place it in a medium or large microwave safe bowl. Melt it in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s directions. For the amount needed for my mini bar soaps I only needed 20-30 seconds in the microwave on high. The soap base melts readily in the microwave, so melt at 20 second intervals to avoid overheating. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with a tea towel, and stir in 1 tsp of the tea leaves and a 1/2 tsp of the essential oil (or tea powder). I use these amounts for 1 of my 3″ x 2″ x 1″ soap bars. You can adjust the amount of tea and essential oil according to how large your mold is.