Beauty is not just skin deep – it’s deeply connected to health and habits. And natural beauty isn’t just about looking natural – at it’s most basic, it’s also about allowing nature’s beauty allies to help us look our best.
With this principle in mind I joined a beauty tea blending workshop on a sweltering night in Brooklyn. The event, hosted by Verdant Beauty, was also an in-person meeting with Robin King and Lynn Till of R.L. Linden & Co., an herbal beauty company from Denver, Colorado.
I met Robin and Lynn on Twitter, where they offered to send me early samples of some of the products they were formulating for their new skincare business. While some of the products were definitely not yet ready for ‘prime time’, I loved their Frankincense Restoring Serum, and I made a mental note to check into their line again as it progressed. Robin and Lynn together have twenty years of herbal, natural health, midwifery, and beauty business experience between them, so when I found out they were coming to NYC and giving an herbal workshop, I knew I had to go.
I joined about a dozen other natural beauty enthusiasts at Brooklyn Winery, where a special Rosé Cabernet cocktail and hors d’oevres were waiting for us in the upstairs room. We drank some wine, met a few new friends, and got ready for our new adventure. Herbal ingredients were laid out along the tables, teasing us with their mysteries:
Robin and Lynn have a lot to say about using plants for beauty. Their belief is that using whole plants wherever possible gives the most benefit. While we may know one or a few “active constituents” in a plant, there may be many more we haven’t yet discovered, and if a plant is traditionally used for a purpose, there may be other parts of the plant that make it more effective – or safer. This orientation defines their product line and their herbal work, as well as class we were taking.
Beauty teas can take several forms – they can be used for drinking, steaming, or bathing, but the teas themselves will be different for different purposes. Lynn is careful to explain the difference between tonic herbs, which are basically nutritional in nature, and medicinal herbs, which people take when they have a specific concern now (taking echinacea for colds is a good example).
So now it’s time to blend some tea!
Lynn and Robin go through some of the benefits (and cautions where necessary) of the herbs we will be choosing from. Lynn also shows us an example of a tonic beauty tea she enjoys, giving us a guideline for blending a tea with three to five ingredients. And then we’re given two coffee bags each and we get to have a try:
I’ve already decided that I will blend nutritional tonic teas, and I hope I can make two that taste good iced as well.
I start my first blend with a base of red clover, which I know tastes a lot like iced black tea on its own. It’s also very nutritious and contains several phytoestrogens that help balance hormones for women in their forties (ahem). I add hibiscus and rose hips – both are tangy in flavor, and high in vitamin C. They are also very red, which is what I’ve decided that this tea will be. I finish the blend with a little skullcap and jasmine flowers – Lynn says that skullcap increases stress tolerance, which sounds okay by me. And as an ex-Goth, well… Skullcap. I’m hoping the jasmine will add a light note to the fragrance of the tea – and it, along with the hibiscus, may help with my creeping blood pressure if I drink enough of it.
My second tea will be more green (yes, I’m that simple). I’ve been sitting next to a bowl of peppermint all evening, so I know that will be an element. I make the base of the tea with red clover and oatstraw. Oatstraw is another mild-tasting, highly nutritious herb, and it has the added benefit of mood improvement. It can also be an aphrodisiac, so I’m also thinking that I’ll share this tea with my husband. I add burdock root, which is a liver support (which helps clear skin), and I include some skullcap because it’s anti-stress and because….Skullcap. And I add some peppermint to make things nice and cool.
Here are my two teas:
So how do they taste?
First, let me note: brewing a loose herbal tea blend is different than brewing from teabags: most tea bags contain a teaspoon of tea ingredients, which are often powdered to brew quickly. But according to Lynn, to get a really good brew of a loose herbal tea, we should be using at least a full tablespoon of tea per eight ounce cup, and allow the tea to brew for 15-30 minutes, or even overnight. The tea should be allowed to circulate freely – those little metal tea infusers will not let the tea brew properly. Since I don’t have a French press, there will be strainers involved.
My first brew of the red tea was strong and tangy (I used two tablespoons of tea), so I iced it and added a little honey and soda water. It was fantastic – somewhere between an appertif and a soda (think Campari, but not bitter.)
The next day I brewed it at regular strength , and it was good iced, with just a splash of the soda water. Here’s a photo of the tea and regular strength brew:
The “green” tea isn’t really green, though in taste it’s very mild and the peppermint is a really nice touch. I iced it without soda water, and shared it with my hubby, who’s an instant fan. I will see later (and probably not report:-)) if the aphrodisial nature of the tonic works over the summer. Here is that tea, brewed at regular strength:
And if you want the recipes, here they are. Robin and Lynn had us formulate in “parts” – in this case, spoonfuls – so that we can recreate or modify our creations in any amount.
Red Goddess Beauty Tea
- 6 parts Red Clover Blossoms
- 5 parts Hibiscus Flowers
- 3 parts Rosehips
- 3 parts Jasmine
- 3 parts Skullcap
Cooling Anti-Stress Summer Tea
- 8 parts Red Clover Blossoms
- 4 parts Oatstraw
- 3 parts, Burdock Root
- 3 parts Skullcap
- 2 parts Peppermint
I’ll definitely be making more of these two teas, and maybe blending a few others as well. And why not? Custom blended herbal teas are way more nutritious than bottled teas and sodas, without the spoonfuls of added sugar or sugar substitutes. The feel-good benefits last far beyond the initial have-a-nice-cool-drink stage, and the teas’ nutritional benefits could have me looking better as well. And one more thing: they’re delicious.
P.S. You can check out R.L. Linden’s herbal skincare and beauty teas at their site – they have new products, including the out-of-this-world fragrant Thousand Petal Beautifying Mist and a special limited edition summer beauty box.