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Making Soap with Tea

Aug
8

Tea is a fun thing to use in soap in place of the water when making the lye mixture because it’s a chance to play with color. Most teas will turn soap some shade of tan/brown, but sassafras tea turns soap red or purple. Sassafras tea is a reddish color and does lend that color to soap.

Green teas, however, won’t turn your soap green. I’m not sure if this is a difference between leaf teas and root teas, but it just is. I haven’t tried a lot of different teas yet, but if you find a leaf tea that doesn’t turn soap tan/brown, let me know!

To use tea in soap, use it just as you would water, replacing it in any recipe in the amount specified for the water.

The color play comes in with the temperature of the tea at the point when you mix it with the lye. Like milk, tea will turn soap darker. Milk is used at an icy/slushy temp to keep the soap from being too dark, but you could also try fridge-cold or room temperature to get different degrees of color. With the sassafras soap, I found that room temperature tea would turn the soap a deep purple and fridge-cold sassafras tea turns the soap more of a reddish-brown.

Left–room temp, right–fridge-cold.

I like the deep purple, so other than one small test batch at fridge-cold, I’ve been making all my sassafras tea soap with room temperature tea.

If I made the sassafras tea icy/slushy, it would probably be an even lighter reddish color, but since I love the deep purple so much, I haven’t tried that.

Loving the purple.

A few days ago, I made a wild mint tea with fresh wild mint leaves harvested on my farm. I put the tea in the fridge to mix it fridge-cold with the lye, and yesterday I made soap. If I’d used room temperature wild mint tea, the soap would have been darker, I’m sure. At fridge-cold, it came out a medium tan. It would likely be even lighter if I made the tea icy/slushy.

Before putting the soap in the mold, I mixed in some dried wild mint, sugar, and a couple tablespoons of local honey. Wild Mint & Honey Soap!

The natural color that comes from using tea (or milk) isn’t bad. In fact, I think it’s beautifully rustic, primitive, and charming, and playing with the temperature to adjust the depth of that color just makes it that much more interesting!

(You can find my Wild Mint & Honey Soap in my Farm Store if you like.)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 8, 2012  

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  1. 8-8
    3:18
    am

    I just made a batch of comfrey soap (hot process). I made a tea from fresh comfrey leaves (refrigerated)then added ground dried comfrey leaves. It turned out a nice shade of green. This was my first post-workshop soap atttempt.

  2. 8-8
    6:14
    am

    I love the looks of the Wild Mint Tea. Do the tea soaps lather any differently than other soaps?

  3. 8-8
    6:28
    am

    Miss Judy, no, tea in the soap doesn’t change the lather.

  4. 8-8
    7:57
    am

    How interesting!! I’ve never made soap but I do love homemade goats milk soap and use it all the time.

  5. 8-8
    8:23
    am

    I love my sassafras soap! It lathers great :happyfeet:

  6. 8-8
    8:50
    am

    I’ve been thinking a lot about using tea in soap lately – your timing is great. I’m going to try to dig some sassafras roots and I’ve got loads of comfrey. I also have a bucket of osage orange bark, which dyes fiber a beautiful orange. I’ll bet that would make some interesting soap. I’m going to try it.

  7. 8-8
    10:02
    am

    Hmmm…wonder how coffee would work. Including some grounds would make for a kind of “scrub” too. Loved your soap tutorial BTW.

  8. 8-8
    10:41
    am

    So excited to see you using the mint/mint tea for soap!! I make mint soap for my friends and family. It is so cooling and refreshing! If you are feeling especially sassy or “hot and bothered”, add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your recipe (I add about 10-15 eyedropper drops per pound and purchase my oils from Brambleberry. Its never discolored my soap as of yet). It’ll rock your world and make ya feel all tingly and cool :-).

  9. 8-8
    11:51
    am

    Oh how fun! I am definetely going to try this with my next batch of soap. I love the color. I like a darker bar anyway. But will try the almost frozen too. Now I can hardly wait til next week to make more. Thanks so much, Suzanne. I learn so much from you.

  10. 8-8
    5:10
    pm

    Teresa (comment #5 above) brought a bar of the Sassafras soap you made to work the other day. It smelled wonderful, just like root beer, and it was pretty too!

  11. 8-8
    5:23
    pm

    Great post. I was just wondering about using tea to make soap. That is interesting about the coldness, I have never seen that mentioned before. My favorite soap is goat milk chai. Of course I do not know how to make it, or where to get goat milk. I don’t like the taste of chai as a beverage (tea, coffee), but I do seem to love it in soap.

  12. 8-9
    7:28
    pm

    I love making soap with tea. There are so many kinds of tea to try too.

    Just as a quick note about using milk in soap, the reason we use it in a slushy state is because when you add the lye it heats very quickly and if the milk it’s cold enough it could curdle ruining the batch of soap. I never realized before this that the temperature of the liquid would have an effect on the final color. That makes me want to experiment.

    Thanks, as always, for such great informative posts.

  13. 12-9
    9:01
    pm

    I was wondering if the smell of the tea remains after the soap has cured?

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