Beautiful skin rituals – teatime toners

I love the scent of sweet apple-like chamomile tea in the morning, so soothing and delicious with a spoonful of honey. The uplifting aroma of Moroccan mint tea in the afternoon clears my mind, and the enchanting fragrance of jasmine tea helps me to unwind in the evening.

My daily tea rituals are good for my skin, because tea is not only healthy to drink but it makes a lovely skin toner too. Good skin care should be simple and natural, and what is more basic than making a cup of tea? After brewing a herbal tea, I pour a little into a small cup or bowl to use as a toner for my face – so easy!

Rain on Saturday meant that Emily and me put off the shook swarm – bees don’t like to be shaken but they dislike wet weather even more – to spend the afternoon spring cleaning last year’s brood boxes with a blow torch. By the evening, I felt in need of doing something more feminine, so I made some recipes for herbal teas to enjoy with mum on Sunday. I used my favourite herbs – chamomile, lavender, peppermint and rose.

Chamomile and honey tea toner

I love the sweet smell of chamomile. It is one of my favourite herbs, so good for drinking and lovely for my skin.

Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties and is soothing to skin, being particularly useful for irritated skin, rashes, allergic reactions, spots, acne and eczema. By reducing swelling and inflammation, chamomile calms the skin and supports healing. This herb is generally good for promoting healthy skin for all skin types, and can be used as a daily toner even for sensitive skin. Honey is soothing and moisturising, and this time I used manuka honey which is particularly antibacterial.

I like to use a Bodum tea infuser to make pots of herbal tea at home. It is so handy, I can infuse regular or herbal tea bags or loose leaf tea and herbs in any combination. The infuser gradually steeps the herbs and keeps them covered. This is important to make sure that the beneficial chemical constituents in the herbs are not lost through evaporation, and as the steam cools it condenses back into the infusion. That’s the science bit.

This Bodum tea infuser pot is brilliant, I am always using it to make my own fresh herbal teas.

You will need:

  • dried chamomile flowers
  • manuka honey
  • tea pot with infuser

How to make:

  1. Add 3 tsp of dried chamomile to a tea pot with infuser; pour over hot water and cover to steep and cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Pour a little chamomile tea into a measuring cup or bowl, and add 1/2 tsp of manuka honey; stir until the honey has dissolved.
  3. Soak a couple of cotton wool pads in the chamomile and honey tea, then remove and squeeze excess liquid before sweeping across your face.

A little chamomile tea with 1/2 tsp of manuka honey in a small measuring cup to soothe my skin.


Herbal tea toners are meant to be used the day that they are made, because any homemade beauty product that uses water as an ingredient has a short shelf life – and these are mostly water! You could let the tea cool and jar it in the fridge for one or two days, but as I drink a lot of herb tea I prefer to use a fresh batch of toner each day.

Green tea and peppermint toner

I like to add a few herbs to my plain green tea to make it tastier, it goes well with peppermint.

I use green tea bags when I am in a hurry, although I prefer loose leaf green tea because only a sprinkle is needed and it seems to have a more delicate taste. To make green tea from bags more tasty, I’ll add a little peppermint or lavender to my mug using a mesh tea infuser.

Green tea is very beneficial for skin. It is high in antioxidants and often drunk as an anti-aging remedy. Topically, it is astringent and toning, helping to improve skin texture, while also being anti-inflammatory and helpful for irritated or blemished skins. Peppermint is a herb that is both cooling and calming to skin. This toner was very refreshing on my skin.

You will need:

  • green tea bags
  • dried peppermint
  • mesh tea infuser

How to make:

  1. Simply steep the green tea bag in a mug with a scoop of dried peppermint leaves inside a mesh tea infuser.
  2. After about three minutes remove the green tea bag (green tea is not so tasty when it is brewed too long) but let the dried peppermint continue to brew for another seven minutes or so.
  3. Remember to cover the infusion with a saucer or tea cloth, so the chemical properties don’t evaporate.
  4. Pour a little into a small cup and allow to cool. Soak with a cotton wool pad and wipe over your face.

My mesh infuser is great for adding loose herbs to a mug for a quick herbal tea.


Green and mint tea is so refreshing and really wakes me up. I also make rosemary tea like this, because it is a great substitute for coffee and stimulates the mind.


Jasmine, rose and lavender toner

Rose smells heavenly and makes a lovely cup of tea with lavender and jasmine-infused green tea leaves.

This luxurious herbal tea was the one I chose to make for my mum on Sunday. It has the delicate taste of jasmine and smells gorgeous because of the rose and lavender. I prefer to drink it with a spoonful of honey in my cup.

As a toner, this tea has many lovely properties for your skin including all the benefits of green tea. Jasmine is soothing, softening and hydrating; lavender is antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory and also balancing to skin; rose is cleansing, refreshing and hydrating. My skin felt and smelt lovely after I used this!

You will need: 

  • loose leaf green tea with jasmine
  • dried lavender
  • dried rose petals

How to make:

  1. Add 1 tsp of jasmine green tea to a tea infuser pot with 1/2 tsp of dried lavender and 1 tsp of dried rose petals. Pour over just boiled water.
  2. Steep the infusion for 10 minutes and allow to cool for a further few minutes.
  3. Pour the infusion into a small cup and enjoy the scent of jasmine, lavender and rose as you use it on your skin.

My jasmine, rose and lavender tea ready to drink and to pour a little for a pretty skin toner.

Beautiful tea and cake for Mother’s Day

On Sunday there is usually cake for teatime and as today was also Mother’s Day the cakes were especially beautiful!

Smell of roses and cupcakes – heavenly!

With a card perfect for a beekeeping daughter to give to her mother…

Happy Mother's Day, mum! Enjoy your scents of roses!

The perfume is ‘Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No.2 Rose’ from Neal’s Yard. My mum loves it – and I do too!

I’m looking forward to drinking my green tea and peppermint infusion again tomorrow morning – exactly what’s needed for a Monday! With a bit of luck, this week’s forecasted fair weather should bring our shook swarm!

I would like to say a big thanks to Donna of Momma E blog for nominating my blog for a Sunshine Award. It is so lovely to be appreciated and I’ll be sure to pass along my own nominations soon. 

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Perfume alchemy for Valentine’s Day

I have loved making fragrances ever since my mother introduced me to the magical world of perfume. One summer she took us to visit a perfumery in Grasse, France, the birthplace of the world’s perfume industry. We took a bus from Cannes and had a long, bumpy ride up the steep hills of southern France. As we got closer the air became thick with perfume and wonderful aromas flew in through the bus windows.

The perfumers showed us the secrets of their trade, and my mum remembers that I was amazed how many petals were needed to make one bottle of perfume. I was transfixed by the whole process. It was alchemy.

I spent every penny in my purse to buy four tiny vials of the most exquisite fragrances that I have ever smelt. The perfumes from Grasse sat on my bedroom windowsill for years, never worn but occasionally opened to enjoy the heavenly scents. Over the years the aromas faded, until one day I returned home from university to find that the precious bottles held only coloured water.

The visit to Grasse sparked an obsession with smell that eventually led to aromatherapy. Floral and citrus oils are my favourite fragrances, although I also love the woods and resins.

Valentine’s Day is full of romance and so also nostalgia. For this Valentine’s I have tried to recreate the fresh, sweet smells of Grasse, which I remember were as beautiful as they were simple.

There are lots of complicated perfume recipes available using various base mixes and perfumer’s alcohol. I prefer to keep things easy. The recipe below uses vodka, which can be substituted for distilled water or flower water (orange or rose) to make an eau de cologne. I chose three of my favourite oils – rose, jasmine and neroli – for a rich floral base, and enhanced with leafy petitgrain and uplifting, citrusy grapefruit.

You will need:

  • 60ml vodka (80% proof)
  • 9 drops rose absolute
  • 2 drops jasmine absolute
  • 4 drops neroli essential oil
  • 2 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 4 drops petitgrain essential oil

Pour the vodka into a bottle with a spray pump top and add the absolutes and essential oils drop by drop. Fix the bottle top and shake well. The oils will make the vodka cloudy, which is normal. Spray the perfume on neck and wrists, and enjoy.

The fragrance is how I like my perfumes – subtle. If you prefer, increase the strength of the aroma by doubling the amount of drops.

Store the perfume out of direct sunlight or heat and it will keep for a long time or as quickly as you use it!

You can read more about the essentials oils used here: rose, jasmine, neroli, grapefruit and petitgrain.

I buy my essential oils from Neal’s Yard Remedies, where I was trained as an aromatherapist. They also have lots of smelly ideas for Valentine’s Day!

Aroma Yoga

Aroma Yoga

Aroma Yoga is an inspiring way to start the day by using fragrances that complement yoga moves. Simply put it means burning an essential oil or a blend of essential oils while practising yoga.

Aromatherapy is a natural partner to the five principles of yoga: exercise, deep rhythmic breathing, release from tension, relaxation and meditation. Essential oils can be used to energise the body, encourage deep breathing, awaken the senses, and promote calm.

I practise yoga every morning at home so it is easy to choose an aroma for my daily Asanas (yoga poses). To feel revitalised and renewed after a session, I choose essential oils that are energising and uplifting. Basil or rosemary oils stimulate the mind and clarify the senses, and burning one of these two fragrances brings a greater sense of awareness, aiding focus and balance.

Frankincense is another excellent oil to combine with yoga particularly for classic meditation poses like the Lotus. The orange oils (mandarin, petitgrain, sweet orange) are good choices because they are relaxing and uplifting. Lavender combines well with yoga because it balances the mind and emotions.

My favourite essential oil for yoga is not an obvious one – jasmine. The fragrance of jasmine is very inspiring while practising Salute to the Sun as the world awakes.

I would love to hear more ideas of how to use aromatherapy with yoga.

My essential oils are from Neals Yard, including the aroma stone in the image above.

Reflections on a year in beekeeping

This year has been all about the queen. Queen Rose split from her court in early spring and was succeeded by her daughter, Queen Rosemary. Taking objection to her coronation, Rosemary briefly abdicated in a royal huff before returning to her throne. Rose, in her newly founded kingdom, made fewer public appearances before eventually going MIA. We then discovered five queens-in-waiting in July. Our royal saga concluded with the coronation of Queen Lavender.

Lavender made her debut at the end of a busy afternoon’s beekeeping: bees had been cleared, our honey crop removed and Apiguard given to treat varroa. The beekeeping year starts and ends in August. The honey crop summons the end of our annual activities as preparations for overwintering begin the new year. Bees are a bit pagan.

Emily brought dried lavender for the smoker to calm our late summer bees, while we nicked their honey and gave them medicine. So it seemed appropriate when Sarah spotted our new queen running across a frame in our baby hive that she was christened Lavender.

Remembering the drama of our runaway queen earlier this year, Lavender was swiftly caged without hesitation and marked white – on her head, wings and thorax! Future inspections will tell if she survived my clumsy coronation attempt intact.

I think I may have squashed two workers while securing the queen in her cage. Ugh, more guilt! Catching and marking a queen is tricky business. Try to catch one bee from thousands on a frame inside a cage, then mark her as the workers try to set her free. That’s when you need a hive partner! It is a good idea to practise caging and marking with drones early in the year. They are bigger and fairly amiable about it, and it doesn’t matter quite as much if you damage a drone.

So our beekeeping year ends with Queen Rosemary reigning over our fully grown hive, which is bursting at the seams with bees, and with Queen Lavender inheriting our baby hive, which is slowly filling the brood box. Emily and I wondered how well our July queen mated late in the season and with August rains. So we were happy to find new brood and larvae during our last inspection.

I thought that the bees in our baby hive looked lighter and more golden, unlike Lavender who inherited her mother’s dark looks. Emily suggested that Lavender may have mated with Albert’s drones. We might have Kiwi bees!

As an aromatherapist, I named my first queen after an essential oil and this tradition has continued with the hives I share with Emily. So far the queens have taken after their namesakes of Jasmine, a beautiful relaxing oil, Rose, a warm mothering fragrance, and Rosemary, an energetic invigorating aroma. Lavender is renowned for its gentleness and effectiveness, I hope our new queen has these qualities.

Our adventures in beekeeping have kept us busy this year – building hives and shook swarms, frame-making workshops and beards of bees, runaway queens, a new nuc, rainbows of pollen and honey, a quintet of queen cells, weird bees, a honey crop, and a honey festival! I haven’t even taken my basic beekeeping assessment yet!

With a new year around the corner, I wonder what our bees will do next!

Lights! Camera! Action! It’s jasmine!

Jasmine was the girl at school ‘most likely to become a movie star’. She is confident, outgoing, sophisticated and glamorous. She has an inner luminosity that brings inspiration and courage to those that fall within her sphere.

Jasmine is a delicate and beautiful plant, reminiscent of warm and dusky summer evenings. It is an evergreen vine, or shrub, with small shiny green leaves and white star-shaped flowers, which release their most potent aroma at night.

Traditionally jasmine has been used as an aphrodisiac in perfume oils and as a tonic for women during menstruation and childbirth. It has many other uses such as relaxing tense muscles and spasms, and relieving catarrh and coughs (although there are cheaper oils that can do this just as effectively, eg lavender and myrtle oils respectively). Jasmine is also thought to be an antidepressant.

I have always found the fragrance of jasmine to be enchanting and spellbinding. Jasmine casts a spell that allows you to believe in yourself, it creates confidence and dispels lethargy and doubt. Jasmine is the friend who pushes you out of your comfort zone and encourages you to reach for your dreams.

Air of inspiration

In spring and summer months I like to burn jasmine oil in the early morning, just as the sun is waking up. The rich scent weaves its magic into the smells of dawn and dew, creating an inspiring air. It awakens the mind and a spark of creativity, dispelling lethargy or self doubt.

For inspiration pour four to five drops of jasmine oil into your oil burner. Light the candle and prepare to be spellbound!

Enchanting hair oil

Jasmine has been used for centuries in India to fragrance hair. To create an enchanting hair conditioning oil you’ll need:

  • medium-sized dark glass jar
  • 100ml coconut oil
  • 60 drops jasmine oil

Melt the coconut oil by putting it in a bowl and standing the bowl in boiling water. When the oil has melted to liquid form pour in your jasmine oil and stir. Quickly pour your blend into the dark glass jar before the coconut oil sets again.

To use, get a teaspoon amount of your jasmine-fragranced coconut oil and massage into your scalp, combing through the lengths of your hair. Cover with a warm towel and leave for 30 minutes. Then shampoo and rinse out. The coconut oil nourishes hair and jasmine leaves it subtly fragranced.

In summer, I also like to buy unscented shampoos and conditioners and create my own scent by adding jasmine oil. Use the same dilutions for jasmine coconut oil – 100ml unscented shampoo or conditioner to 60 drops jasmine oil. Always store your blend in dark glass, because essential oils can corrode plastic containers.

Romantic bathing oil

Jasmine is warming, comforting and soothing. Its fragrance calms nervous tension and anxiety, soothes feelings of restlessness and provides feelings of encouragement and self belief. Its aroma is also perfect for setting a romantic mood.

For a luxurious bath, run your bath water then pour in a blend of 20ml olive oil and 20 drops jasmine oil. This is a 5% dilution that may be used in baths. Enjoy.

This post is dedicated to Lisa, because, like jasmine, she’s a star!

Profile of jasmine:

Latin name: Jasminum officinale
Plant family: Oleaceae
Plant type: floral
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: originally native to China, west Asia and north India; also cultivated in the Mediterranean and France
Extraction: solvent extraction to produce jasmine absolute or steam distillation to produce jasmine essential oil
Chemical properties/active components: 54% esters including benzyl acetate and benzyl benzoate; its main volatile constituent is benzyl acetate
Blends with: rose, sandalwood, clary sage and all citrus oils
Key actions: aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, analgesic, expectorant, stimulant, soothing
Common conditions: skin care for dry, irritated and sensitive skins, and for oily skins; depression, lethargy, nervous anxiety, restlessness and tension
Contraindications: non-toxic, non-sensitising and non-irritant. Avoid during pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

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