A Cooling Summer Tea

I adore the summer season; well I love the thought of summer, especially on a particular icy winters day. I look forward to the sunshine, the seasonal garden fruits and herbs and flowers in full bloom, and the altogether feeling of happiness. However if you are anything like me, when the heat is particularly scorching, you tend to feel lethargic and uncomfortable and try to stay out of the sun.
I have started making ice cold summer teas, which are especially cooling and refreshing on the harshest of days, albeit in the UK there are not many days like these. Nevertheless this is a tea recipe made from Elderflower, Lime, Mint and Lemon Balm. Elderflower is an amazing cooling plant for the summer heat, as well as during a cold, fevers and for the hot flushes of menopause. Lemon Balm, Mint and Lime are also cooling on the body.

The recipe below is not an exact science and does not have to be approximate. You can also use dried ingredients, you just need to halve the quantity of the herbs.

Ingredients:
A handful of elderflower heads
1 or 2 sprigs of lemon balm
1 sprig of mint
A slice of lime
Agave nectar to taste
2 cups of water.

Directions:
Place the Elderflower, Mint, slice of Lime and Lemon Balm in a glass jug and pour over with 2 cups of boiling water. Let this infuse for 20 minutes and then add Agave nectar to taste. Strain and chill to serve.

DIY Hay fever Balm Recipe

hay fever balm

Hello, I’m sharing this hay fever recipe as I have found it very helpful. I created this recipe to help me cope with hay fever symptoms of itchy eyes and runny nose. Applying the balm around the nostrils will reduce the amount of pollen, dander and dust that enters the nose. This in turn reduces the hay fever symptoms. Applying around the eyes (not in the eyes) will sooth itchy skin. It really does help, see the science bit here.

Recipe:
1 and a half tablespoon of Jojoba or Candilla wax
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of calendula infused olive oil
4 drops of Lavender essential oil – for its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
4 drops of Chamomile essential oil – soothes itchy and inflamed skin.
2 drops of Helichrysum essential oil – can help relieve allergy symptoms such as sneezing.

Directions:
1. Place a small amount of water in a saucepan and turn the heat on low.
2. Place a glass container (preferably with a spout for easy pouring) inside the saucepan.
3. Add the wax and oils until it’s melted. Remove the glass container from the saucepan.
4. Add essential oils and pour into small containers.

‘Old Nubia’ 2018 Perfume

My new perfume ‘Old Nubia’ is a culmination of an ancient scent I have wanted to create for a long time. My initial interest in the past stems from a young age when I received a book on ancient civilisations. I would spend countless hours observing the imagery with pure fascination. The continued interest in all things archaeology has been one of the reasons I became interested in creating fragrances.

Drawing on plants, flowers and resins that were used by the ancients, ‘Old Nubia’ aims to capture the essence of the culturally renowned city of Kerma. At its peak, (between 2500 B.C to 1500 B.C) the ancient Nubian Kingdom of Kerma, on the east bank of the Nile, was once a cultural gateway of trade. This contributed immensely to the city’s great wealth. Because of its location, Nubia controlled commerce at this time, being at a crossroad that linked Egypt and the Red Sea with Central Africa. You can just imagine the wonderful and exotic commodities that passed through these lands.

For my perfume I used many oils that were available at this time, including Frankincense and Myrrh, Elemi , which was used for embalming by the Egyptians, Orris root, Saffron, Black cumin, Labdanum, Cedar, Spikenard and Jasmine amongst others. I have also added two types of Oud from Assam and Cambodia – these play heavily in this scent.

A Memory And A Garden

It’s remarkable how a scent can evoke a certain memory from the past. This can happen instinctively when a certain smell triggers an event or an experience that took place in your childhood. A perfume you may have worn as a teenager may also trigger a memory of that youthful time! My earliest memory of a scent that I can remember, is my mother baking cardamom and vanilla cookies for the Eid celebrations. I would wake up to the scent of warm vanilla and cardamom and eat as much of these heavenly bakes as I was able to for breakfast. To this day, whenever I smell cardamom, it transports me wistfully back to this time. If you want to read the science behind memory and scent you can read it here.

My perfume ‘far pavilion’ was inspired by a very distant childhood memory of my grandfather’s house in India. I recall a walled garden with date trees and a central well. My father mentioned that there were also beehives, neem and custard apple trees. My mother also talks affectionately about her garden of mangoes trees and intoxicating white flowers such as champaca.

Scent can be a highly emotive experience and it really can transport you back in time. I tried to capture an evocative emotion with ‘Far pavilion’ with its top notes of lavender and pepper, and a heady floral heart of Ylang Ylang. The Neroli is calming and the base is smooth and grounding with Amber and frankincense. It reminds me of a long forgotten memory of a garden. Of heady days and humid night, of laughter, and of an age of innocence.

jasmine flower
garden
botanical vegan perfume

Free Herb Journal

Free herb journal template to download. I love learning about herbs, especially those that tend to pop up unannounced in my garden. This journal is great for looking into each herb in detail. There are 10 pages, of herb notes, although you can print out as many as you need. Also included are some sketches of herbs which you can cut out and stick in the journal. The size is a convenient A4.

Just click here to download.  

materia medica
free herb journal
free herb journal

New Botanical Natural Perfumes

My new botanical perfumes are now available in my shop. Botanical perfumes are an alternative to the perfumes we have all grown up with and have encountered in the department stores.

Mainstream perfumes brought from department stores are mainly mass produced in a laboratory and made from synthetic chemicals that imitate natural scents. The main ingredients are derived from petrochemicals, which can cause migraines, nausea, irritation and all sorts of health problems. Some of the well-known brands may have a very small amount of natural perfume scent, but this too is usually modified by artificial means. It would be too cost productive to manufacture these perfumes with larger amounts of natural components, therefore chemicals and synthetics will continue to be widely used in the famous high street branded perfumes, indefinitely.

A natural Perfume is made up of pure ingredients that are free from petrochemicals, solvents, dyes, phthalates and pesticides. Ink and Ocean botanicals perfumes go further, in that they are no natural animal products or testing and no alcohol either. My perfume making methods are motivated by ancient civilisations. The Egyptians, Greeks and Arabs used botanicals and oils to produce their scents. The ingredients include therapeutic grade essential oils, absolutes, resins, tinctures, and infusions of plant material in a base of organic Jojoba oil. There are 6 new perfumes in this range which have been developed over a period of time based on my love of the past. Inspiration comes from books that I have read, poignant quotes, people, places and times in history.

 

botanical vegan perfume

Amsterdam Botanical Gardens

Taking a very brief trip to visit my sister in Amsterdam, I was keen to visit the Botanical Gardens (Hortus Botanicus) situated between two canals in the Plantage district, with various types of green houses from tropical rain forest to a dry desert cactus house, and a butterfly house. Its not as big as Kew gardens London, therefore a couple of hours is all you need to get through, but certainly a gem.

It was established in 1638 by the city municipality as Hortus Medicus, a herb garden with medical plants for Amsterdam doctors and pharmacists. The reasons for establishing a specialised medical garden was at that time, the cities of Leiden and Utrecht experienced the plague epidemic 1634-1637.

Today the Hortus Botanicus has more than 4000 different plant species including a 154-year-old water lily which opens its flower every night around dusk and a centuries old agave cactus that dates back to the Roman era! Also a 300 year old beautiful Eastern Kape giant Cycad. The atmosphere is relaxed, and not very much tourists around, so can be lovely and tranquil. Lots of places to sit and think. Great little garden themed shop too.