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.)