Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Essential Oils for Flavoring in Tea, Coffee, Cocoa

We were recently asked about blending essential oils in bulk tea leaves which got us thinking about the many varied uses of essential oils.  Just as there is a learning curve for blending essential oils, there is also one for blending teas.  For the most part, it is recommended to use herbs, spices, etc. in blending bulk teas but there are those connoisseurs who also dabble with the oils and natural flavoring extracts. 

Marge will add a drop of Lemon essential oil to iced tea, around the holidays a tiny amount of Nutmeg hydrosol to coffee, or even peppermint hydrosol to make a cooling summer tea.  Only the most minute amount is needed, remember the “less is more,” rule of aromatherapy blending!  She also occasionally adds oils for flavoring in cooking or baking. 

After doing some research, we read that Green Tea is more favorable for bulk tea leaf blending, as it is more likely to take on the essential oil components for flavoring. We can’t definitely confirm what we read about the Green Tea, other than to rely on the source.  There is just not much information available about blending essential oils with bulk tea leaves and perhaps it is not even the best method.  Some experimenting would need to be done but it sounds like fun if you are up for the challenge!

Marge suggests just a drop or two in your favorite tea, coffee, or cocoa. We did discover some advocate adding essential oils directly to the tea leaves, wearing powder free gloves and using a stainless steel bowl for the process…you can add the desired oils and toss together to saturate the leaves.  Apparently some oils bind quicker than others or are a bit stronger (like Cinnamon) and would not need to “sit” as long.

However, Marge is thinking that maybe tearing off a small piece of paper towel and adding a couple of drops of essential oil to it, and closing it up tight in a small canister of tea or tea leaves might be a good starting point. (No need in wasting tea or oil on large amounts.) Starting out with just a drop or two would be best.  You could always add more as needed.  She does the same thing to flavor sugar with our Vanilla CO2 and sometimes adds a drop or two of Ginger EO to a jar of honey for flavoring. Yummy! 

An interesting fact: Bergamot is added to commercial Earl Grey tea, a favorite of the Brits! But if using citrus oils, it is crucial to make sure you are selecting Organic citrus oils. Non-organic could likely be from a sprayed crop.  No one wants to ingest that! We would also limit our exploration to the "foodie" oils, citrus rinds, gentle spices and herbs.

We would love to hear from you if you’ve “taken the plunge,” (couldn’t resist!) and experimented with food or beverages blended with essential oils, including your hints, tips, and recipes.  Remember, all safety considerations should be followed, and cautions heeded about any particular oil you are using.

By Christi R. Pugh
For Nature’s Gift, Inc.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Monarda (Wild Bergamot/Lavender Bee Balm) Hydrosol Loved by the Birds, the Bees, & Me!

By Christi Pugh
For Nature’s Gift, Inc.

Since we’ve been unable to source more Tea Tree hydrosol at present, we brought in a “new- to- us” hydrosol, Monarda (fistulosa), for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Marge was familiar with it but I did not know what to expect and I’ve found it to be a more than suitable, almost superior substitute for Tea Tree hydrosol.

I’ve had the occasion to work with it some this summer on my dog Lexi’s eye irritation before we could get to the vet for more antibiotic drops.  It is the only natural product that seemed to help her & she loved it so much she would lick it off the top of my hand. With a soaked cotton ball of Monarda, I gently patted the irritated area around her eye.  None was used IN the eye itself. 

The flower itself can be white, purple, or pinkish, and is said to attract hummingbirds. Note that there are two varieties of Monarda hydrosol, the fistulosa, which we offer, and the didyma, known for being higher in Thymol and more analgesic, however it is not as gentle and could irritate skin.  Fistulosa is sometimes referred to as Purple Bee Balm, while the Didyma variety is known as Scarlet Bee Balm.  The leaves and flowers have been recognized for healing properties over hundreds of years in North America and throughout Europe.

Similar in constituency to Thyme, it even has a slightly Thyme-like aroma due to the geraniol content!  I find the scent pleasant, reassuring, gentle, and the hydrosol helpful for cleaning cuts, wounds, and cooling hot itchy feet.  Suzanne Catty recommends Mondarda hydrosol as a wash for treating fungal infections of the skin or in a douche, and says it is antiviral in addition to its other benefits.  It also makes an excellent toner for skin with acne, as a mouthwash, or used internally for immune boosting—for instance in a cup of tea. I plan to keep it in the fridge as a “go to” hydrosol for first aid.

We offer Monarda in both 1 oz & 4oz atomizers for ease of use.  Read more and order at   Photo courtesy of The Essential Herbal Magazine.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kunzea for Pain Relief

Christi shares her experience:
I lost my balance and ran into a metal shelf in the production area a little over a month ago resulting in a knee injury for which I am currently being treated.  Crutches, leg brace, x-rays, MRI, NSAID’s, and starting physical therapy this week.  I’ve supplemented with essential oils, mainly reaching for the “superstar” oils for joint pain without much noticeable success. Sometimes we have to be reminded by our clients about the benefits of particular oils.  It is so easy to get into a rut and reach for the same oils over and over again and with over 200 to choose from, outstanding lesser known oils can easily be overlooked.

Yesterday a client called to discuss buying our Kunzea Ambigua (Australian Tick Bush) in bulk and I asked, “What are you using it for?” (I think of it for infections, staph, skincare, mainly.)  He proceeded to tell me enthusiastically about how several members of his family used it successfully for joint pain, arthritis, sports injuries, and even fibromyalgia.  A light bulb went off in my head!  Why didn’t I think of that?

Of course, I KNEW of these uses…that Kunzea is supposed to be analgesic & anti-inflammatory, but I always reach for Helichrysum, Arnica, St. John’s Wort, & Lavender, first!  Marge mentions on the website that in Australia, Kunzea is actually registered for temporary relief of arthritis, strains, sprains, muscle aches & joint pain.  The oil is high in alpha pinene (analgesic) and 1,8 cineole (anti-inflammatory & pain relief) and often recommended for topical use.  Note: Helichrysum is also high in alpha pinene.

Fortunately I work at Nature’s Gift so I was able to immediately get some Kunzea and began using it on my knee.  I only wish I had thought of this a month ago!  Noticeable relief in less than an hour & quite long lasting, too.  I did not apply again until bedtime.  Just a few drops rubbed onto the injured area of the knee undiluted.  Note: Do not use on broken skin or open wounds undiluted.  Dilute in carrier oil for use on a wider area of the body and keep in mind it is recommended for TEMPORARY relief, not long term usage. Which means if using it for a chronic condition like Arthritis or Fibromyalgia, always dilute in your favorite carrier oil before using.

The aroma is medicinal in a way similar to other oils from New Zealand and Australia.   Think of it as a scent somewhere between Tea Tree & Fragonia™.  It blends well with other Australian oils (Rosalina, Niaouli, Fragonia™, lemon Tea Tree) & Lavender.  Dr. Daniel Penoel in France, and other researchers in America, continue interesting research into the many and varied uses of Kunzea for a variety of conditions, which is quite promising.  I am fascinated with both Australian oils & Madagascar oils…so much healing potential from nature.

Read more about Kunzea Ambigua & other essential oils here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mystery Rose

We sometimes have mysteries.

Jim recently found a fairly significant quantity (close to 70 fl oz give or take) of what is labeled  Bulgarian Rose Oil 10%. in Jojoba, stored in one of our production refrigerators.  In the very far back of a refrigerator.


The label is initialed by the person who blended or poured the dilution.  This is standard procedure.

The initials are very clear. Either VS or JS.  We have never had a staffer with either set of initials. I searched our payroll records in case someone was here briefly and I forgot. Nope.  No VS.  no JS. (And someone only here briefly would not be blending Rose Otto.)

It is very certainly rose otto, not rose absolute.  I believe it's in Jojoba... a tiny bit heavier than the Fractionated Coconut dilutions.

I do not believe it is a 10% dilution. I believe whoever created 2 liters and an 8 ounce bottle had their math wrong.  It is MUCH stronger than any of our current rose 10% dilutions.  It may be a 15 to 20% dilution, or stronger.  It solidifies in the refrigerator. Rose Otto solidifies at cool room temperature; 10% dilutions don't.

The age is unknown..  The REASON is unknown.
I've searched our annual inventories. It was never counted in any inventory.  I've looked.  There is no earthly reason I can think of that we would blend more than 1/2 gallon of diluted Rose Otto.

I thought about using it to make Rose Bliss Bath. We would have to add at least three times the amount of jojoba to bring it down to the dilution we use.  And we won't make that much Rose Bliss Bath this decade.  We can't use it in products that call for diluted rose because the strength is so questionable. Wishing I'd had this to enrich our rose soap, back when I made soap. 

I am quite sure the Jojoba is organic. It predates the Jojoba shortage.  The rose otto may be organic; there was a time we stocked Organic Rose Otto.

Tempted?  We offer our current stash of Bulgarian Rose Otto for $65.00 for 15 mls.  Turkish Rose Otto 10% is $75 for 15 mls (1/2 ounce.)  

I believe Mystery Rose has more rose oil in it than either of the above. You may order 1 fl oz of Mystery Rose for $75.00, or an 8 ounce bottle for $525.00.  Either one is undoubtedly the BEST rose value we have ever made available.  If I think of a use for it all, I am going to keep it all for us. 

Seventy ounces of 10% dilution used 7 fl oz of Rose Otto.  I think this mystery blend used more than that.  Why? How?  Just another Nature's Gift mystery.  

If I ever finish writing the August Specials Page, the Mystery Rose blend will be featured on it.  In the meantime, if you are intrigued, it is available in our shopping cart.