Did you know there’s a special day just to celebrate hot tea? When I discovered it was so, I decided to have a cup of tea and ponder how I could use tea in a batch of soap.
I brewed a cup of my favorite minty tea, which is a blend of Kentucky mint and orange pekoe tea. It has just the right bit of minty flavor with the deeper, bolder taste of black tea. As I was sipping, I started sketching an idea.
Green will be the main color as a nod to the mint in the tea, but the warm brown of the brewed tea will also make an appearance as a layer on the bottom.
Botanicals add appeal to soap, so I opened up a bag of mint tea to blend into the green soap. For visual interest, a mini drop swirl of brown, uncolored, and green soap batter will complete the pour.
I considered several fragrances. I liked our Green Tea Fragrance Oil and nearly chose to blend that with a mint essential oil. But then I sniffed Elements of Bamboo Fragrance Oil. Have you tried it? It is lightly spicy, earthy, and uplifting. Truly a fabulous fragrance! (Hint: you can request a sample of any fragrance when you place an order.)
Here is a list of supplies and equipment used to make this soap, plus the recipe.
For 44 oz Mold
22 oz Coconut Oil
22% Coconut Oil
I’m going to skip the soap making steps, assuming that our readers know how to make soap. If you need more instruction, please see this blog post, which is the beginning of a series on how to make cold process soap.
Let’s make this soap!
The lye solution was plenty stinky, as often happens when soaping with any liquid other than water. It was brown when fully mixed and cooled. I added Sodium Lactate to help create a harder bar and hopefully to help keep the soap batter fluid.
After melting the hard oils and adding the liquid oils, I had a nice temperature of 88 degrees. I cooled the lye water to 82 degrees and combined the two, stirring with a whisk for a while. The lye mixture was 86 degrees.
I learned a tip on Soap Challenge Club that you know your soap batter has reached emulsion when the temperature increases one degree. I decided to see if I could catch that moment.
After the whisking, I pulsed with the stick blender several times, checking the temperature after each time. When it increased to 87 degrees, I stopped and poured off 1/4 of the batter to color brown.
Many soapers use cocoa powder to make brown, so I gave it a try. It wasn’t very close to the color of tea, but that’s okay. Remembering I’d need some brown for the drop swirl, I poured off a small amount in a separate measuring cup, then the rest went into the mold.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of air bubbles in the batter because the cocoa powder was a bugger to mix in, and the batter thickened with all the mixing. I thumped the soap mold a lot, but I suspect there will be little bubbles visible when I cut it.
Before making the green color, I poured off a bit of uncolored batter (1/2 cup or so) to use later for the drop swirl.
For the green soap, I used Moss Green color premixed in glycerin. I used about a teaspoon of the color, added the loose tea, and stirred and stick blended until it was incorporated. The green came out very pretty! When I poured off the small amount for the drop swirl, I realized I should have skipped adding the mint leaves so the green would be visible in the swirl. Oops. So we will do a brown and cream swirl instead of all three colors.
AN UNFORTUNATE EVENT
I gave the soap another stir with my flexible scraper, then I picked up the soap bucket. This is where things went horribly wrong. To avoid disturbing the brown layer, which was thick but not completely set, I planned to pour the green soap over the spatula to break the fall. I didn’t realize I had soap batter on my glove, or maybe it was on the outside of the bucket. In any case, when I tilted it to pour, it slipped from my hand. Naturally, there was a big mess. Some went into the mold. Some went on my shirt. Most went on the table. UGH!
Much scraping ensued as I tried to get all the soap into the mold. I was thankful all my other implements were out of the way of the spill, that I was wearing an old t-shirt, and that the soap did not land on the rug!
By the time I had the soap all cleaned up, the batter was way too thick to bother with the drop swirl. No way was the technique going to happen with batter this thick. Instead, I spooned the brown and uncolored soap on top in lines, then I dragged a chopstick back and forth to make a design.
I heaved a big sigh, wrapped the soap mold in a towel, and deposited it near the wood stove to go through gel phase. Then I went back to clean up the larger than usual mess in my soap lab.
This batch gave me some tough lessons. In hopes you can learn from others’ mistakes, here they are.
Before adding any powder to soap batter, first press it through a sieve or use a sifter to remove any clumps.
When attempting to pour one-handed, make sure the vessel you are using has a handle. Equally crucial, make sure you don’t have anything slick on your glove or the handle.
Finally, be ready to punt. Stuff happens! Stay flexible, and don’t think your soap is ruined if everything doesn’t go as planned.