Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Premium Steap (Tea company in Philadlphia)

During a previous trip to Philly my sister, Ed, and I stopped at this little tea shop called Premium Steap. They had some unusual combinations so I got a couple packages of flavored rooibos (even though my tea stash is too large and I didn't really need anymore tea). I am so glad that I did because they are some of the most delicious tea blends I've ever had!

Rooibos is probably my favorite tea. My favorite plain (nothing added) red and green rooibos teas are from a popular organic herb vendor, (Mountain Rose Herbs), whose herbs are superior quality. But most flavored rooibos teas I've tried in the past were good but not as good as plain rooibos in my opinion (not even the flavored rooibos blends from Adagio teas which I think are good to very good but not extraordinary).

But the ones from Premium Steap I have to say are the best flavored rooibos teas I have tried (and I usually get some kind of rooibos when I visit all the little tea shops in Philly or restaurants and shops in New York City). I tried their 'heaven' rooibos which tastes minty and chocolately, and also their chai rooibos which I have to say is one of the best chai blends I've had (rooibos OR decaff black tea chai).

So if you live or plan to visit Philly, and love tea, be sure to stop by this tea shop. And if you don't, check out their website for some very fine tea :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Li's Crafting Notes 10-11-08

I've been very busy this year trying to finish my thesis (which will be done very soon and then it needs be approved by my committee and lastly I have to defend it), and over the last year and a half or so (has it really been that long? Time has really flown by!) I have been choosing old or formulating new recipes for my future business. Though I've been crafting for over eight years now, it is hard deciding what to offer, especially since I keep coming up with ideas all the time ;P . I plan to start out with only a few products, since many of the ingredients I am using are on the more expensive side like organic rose absolute and essential oil, organic jasmine absolute, organic helichrysum essential oil (these essential oils and absolutes are very pricey even at the wholesale level--when you buy these essential oils by the ounce like most hand crafters and small companies do--they are only a little less expensive than retail prices), red raspberry seed oil, organic non-deodorized cocoa butter (this smells so yummy, so chocolatey), east shea butter (one of my favorite ingredients), etc. I prefer getting organic and/or fair trade ingredients whenever possible, so I am going to be very happy :) but very broke :( by the time I open.

I hope to finally open my business sometime this fall (it keeps getting delayed but it'll be soon, promise!) but there is so much administration and general business stuff to do before that, that I have been working on slowly (in between working on my final thesis). So no set date yet. Keep reading this blog for updates! :)

List of things I've been working for a long while for my business (and a preliminary list of the types of products I am planning to offer):

Oil based serums:
I have been working on both very complex blends and very simple blends for over a year and a half. I've used simple blends for many years but sometime in the last couple of years I have been experimenting with really complex blends, focusing even more on the properties of ingredients in relation to skin type and conditions. I really love the complex blends, my skin has never looked better (and it was pretty good to begin with ;P).

Toners I have been crafting and testing many new different formulations during this year and a half, and experimenting with so many new hydrosols (I've tried over 30 hydrosols so far). I used to use only very simple toners but my skin really loves my new blends, so I am finding it hard to choose favorites: too many fantastic combinations! :) I definitely will have a rose based one since rose toners are my favorite, and great to use during the drier autumn/winter months!

Mineral Makeup I have many shimmer and frost shades done (I have been crafting shimmer and frost shades ever since I started crafting mineral makeup about three or so years ago and have so far developed over forty colors, though I will only be offering a few colors at first). But I am still working on matte shades so will only have shimmer, frost, and semi-matte ones initially. I won't be offering foundations since I need to work on formulations for them, and not sure if I even want to focus on them or not (I believe in making the skin look better, rather than covering it up; I don't wear makeup most days though when I do I love wearing a wide range of different colors and finishes). I've crafted a great lip gloss base and I have made a few colors for the lip gloss but they are all very sheer but still figuring out packaging for my glosses (I am trying to keep packaging as eco-friendly as possible).

I've been tweaking my old and developing some new recipes for cleansing oils and liquid cleansers. The cleansing oil I crafted a while back is one of the only ones I've ever used that doesn't break me out; since it cleanses without feeling too greasy. The liquid cleansers are soap based and clean without overdying; I've added a lot of extra oils/butters and herbs to them so they are super gentle.

Perfumes: I've made two lovely jasmine perfumes that I totally love (made with different species of jasmine) but may or may not offer them initially (since I am already way over budget). I will be offering a rose perfume though, and maybe a few other surprise blends :) I got a lovely ounce of organic Turkish rose absolute a few months ago from AV-AT at a very good price. The absolute is very intense and floral and very lovely. Butch (the owner of AV-AT) was very kind and sent also sent me a ton of samples of his other essential oils and absolutes, including a couple ones I previously hadn't tried yet, so now I must get my hands on an ounce or two and craft some blends with them! I am also getting his organic rose essential oil (distilled), since though I use absolutes in perfumes, I don't really use them in skin care (except for jasmine). His rose essential oils and absolutes really are the best I've tried, and they are organic too :)

Lip balm and body butters: I am totally done with the lip salve (which also doubles as a body salve) and some of the butters (scent combinations are made up but deciding which ones to offer), but I am still crafting a couple other butters. The lip salve contains awesome ingredients like organic arnica. I love this herb but this is one plant that I would never buy the wild crafted one (most of it is wild crafted), only the organic grown one--even if it is currently $72 a pound from my herb vendor--since it is vulnerable, threatened, or endangered in many places in the wild, and not all wild crafted herbs are ethically wild harvested.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Eco Living: Autumn and winter skin care (Green Living)

I have just posted my second Eco Living article for the ANB (all natural beauty) Mall. September's article is on all natural and natural autumn and winter skin care. Skin tends to get dehydrated and dry during the colder seasons, so most people need to switch their skin care. I have also included a recipe for a delcious smelling banana chocolate mask that leaves the skin soft and hydrated!

In August's article, I discussed what Eco living was and also included a few simple green living tips

October's article will be on eco living on a budget. I will probably post it on anb mall's site in a few weeks.

Hope everyone is enjoying my Eco Living articles so far!

Also be sure to check many of the excellent companies on anb mall's site. My friend Jen, owner of Camellia Rose, recently joined the list of natural stores there.