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October 18, 2011

Make Your Own Beauty Products!

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:43 am







Not only will you save money, but you will also know exactly what your product is made of and what the quality of the ingredients are. A great way for people with sensitive skin and allergies that cannot tolerate many of the fillers and chemicals often found in commercial beauty products.

On Sunday we had our first “Herbal Beauty” class at Souvia and it proved to be a success as the picture of shows. Not only did the participants learn about the herbs used in our recipes, but they got hands on experience in putting this new-gained knowledge to use.

Each participant got to blend their own cleansing grains (recipe below) and create a facial steam formula for either dry or oily skin. They highlight, however, was Rosemary Gladstar’s Perfect Cream – a recipe that I have been using for many years now and wanted to share with my herbies.

By the end of our class, everybody agreed that making your own beauty products is a lot of fun and not difficult at all!

Rosemary Gladstar’s Cleansing Grains 

Cleansing grains are the perfect soap replacement. They are mild, nourishing and suitable for all skin types.


1 cup oats, finely ground

2 cups white clay

¼ cup almonds, finely ground

1/8 cup lavender, finely ground

1/8 (2tbsp) cup roses, finely ground

1/8 cup poppy seeds  (optional)


Combine all ingredients. Store grains in a glass container next to sink. To use, mix 1-2 teaspoons of the cleansing grains with water. Stir into a paste and gently massage on face. Rinse off with warm water. For moist miracle grains: combine dry miracle grains with honey and a small amount of distilled water (rose water) to form a paste.


October 15, 2011

Dark Tea

Filed under: Black Tea,Tea Culture — wbwingert @ 1:20 pm

Dark tea is produced in several regions in China, but the best known dark tea comes from Anhua County in Hunan Province.  (just like we assume Champagne comes from the Champagne region in France).



Hei Cha was meant for the minorities in Tibet, Mongolia, northwestern China where people lived on a mostly meat-based diet. Tea was a nutrition supplement and prepared with salt and creamed cheese. Since Hei Cha was for “the common people” along the western borders, it was also called “common tea” or “Border Sale Tea”.

According to historical records, hei cha emerged during the 15th century when it was traded for horses on the “Tea Horse Road”.


What makes Hei Cha unique:

  • Pile fermentation
  • Pine fire drying (traditionally with a special “seven hole firing chamber” over pine fires
  • Higher percentage of stalk used in production
  • Big leaf variety of Camellia Sinensis
  • Different terroir: lots of rain, 4 real seasons, soil chemistry, elevation
  • Bacterium “Eurotium Cristatum” (Golden Flower)


  • Production is tremendously complex, varies by company and is very secretive.
  • In general the oxidation of the raw material is stopped by applying low-moderate heat
  • Then the leaves are pile fermented. This can last from weeks up to a year or two.
  • The leaves are then steamed (kills unwanted bacteria and reintroduces moisture)
  • A second pile fermentation, lasting 3-4 hours, follows.
  • The leaves are rolled for a second time, then fired
  • The dried leaves are stored for 12-15 days before a final drying at low heat over 5-7 days takes place
  • Lastly, the leaves are sorted and either pressed into bricks or packed in bamboo baskets

October 9, 2011

The Toxic Side of Beauty

Filed under: Tea and Health — wbwingert @ 11:45 am

Some beauty products contain toxic chemicals


Many of us have made changes to our diets by including more fruits and vegetables, choosing organically grown produce and reading food labels. Yet while we are holding the food industry to higher standards, refusing to buy products with harmful ingredients; the cosmetic industry is still flying under the radar of government agencies and the public eye.


Beauty, however, is more than skin deep and reading labels can open your eyes to the dangers lurking in today’s beauty products. From lead in lipsticks to the phthalates and parabens in your baby’s lotion, the list of toxic and health-damaging ingredients is long and expands daily

Did you know that on any given day, the average woman uses a dozen personal care products, containing 168 chemicals, 89% of which have never been tested for the safety of their ingredients.

The reason for the lack of testing is that there are no regulatory requirements. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the oversight of cosmetics, but has no authority to require pre-market safety assessment. It can neither review and regulate what goes into cosmetics, nor can it recall products that are found to be harmful.

Instead, the government allows the cosmetic industry to set up its own committee to self-police its products. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) is composed of scientists whose task is to openly and fairly review and assess the safety of beauty products. Compliance with the committee’s recommendations however is voluntary. While the fox is guarding the hen house, the average American bathroom is a minefield of toxic chemicals that are used on a regular basis, despite their health damaging effect. The top five harmful chemicals most commonly found in popular beauty products are lead, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and nitrosamines.

Lead is a toxic heavy metal and can be found in whitening toothpastes and lipsticks.  The negative effects of lead exposure are well documented and reach from neuro-toxicity, seizures, gastrointestinal issues to reproductive and kidney dysfunction

Formaldehyde, another frequently used ingredient, is absorbed either through the skin or by inhalation and can be found in nail polishes, shampoos and liquid body soaps. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, excessive and prolonged exposure can cause skin rashes and may contribute to the development of cancer.

Parabens are most often used as preservatives and are found in body creams, lotions, shampoos as well as any beauty product that has water added to it. Parabens have been shown to disrupt hormones, cause skin reactions and have even been found in breast cancer tumors.

Phthalates are in a class of chemicals that has been linked to hormone disruption, which can affect development and fertility. Even though some phthalates are now banned due to consumer pressure, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is still used in many products, including fragrance. In 2010, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found DEP in 12 of 17 fragrance products tested. DEP, which is banned in Europe, is still used in perfumes and air fresheners, but is not listed on labels as DEP but simply as “fragrance”

Nitrosamines can be found in almost every skin care product, in baby shampoos, mascara, and concealer, yet because the CIR views them as impurities and not as actual ingredients, they are often not listed. Many studies link nitrosamine to cancer and in 1996, the FDA suggested cosmetic manufacturers remove ingredients from their products that, when combined, create nitrosamine, but this suggestion has largely been ignored.


These are only a few on the long list of harmful and potentially dangerous chemicals that beauty products expose us to and while the cosmetic industry argues that these toxic ingredients are absorbed in such small amounts that they do not pose any danger, it is the repeated use and thereby cumulative effect of exposure over a lifetime as well as the timing of exposure such as during growth and development, that increases their harmful effects.

To find out which of your products at home are safe to use and which aren’t, visit the Safe Cosmetics website at


If you really want to know what goes into your beauty products, why not make them yourself.

Mother Nature provides and abundance of herbs, oils and fragrances that are safe, accessible and allow you to tailor the products to your skin’s needs. Some of these herbs you may already have in your garden or use in the kitchen, other you can find at your health food store and of course Souvia. Not only is making your own cosmetic products easy and fun, it can also save you money.


Kerstin Wingert is the Owner of Souvia® Tea and “chai-wallah” of Moon Valley


Copyright 2011, Souvia LLC, all rights reserved


October 4, 2011

We are here for you……..

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 11:57 am

At Souvia, we have our customers’ interests in mind and take their requests to heart. We heard you, when you requested we open earlier. For the past two years we opened the store at 7AM, hoping to see many of you stop in for your tea purchase and a cup for the trip to the office.

It seems, though, that tea drinkers are either not early risers or associate tea with a slower pace, relaxation and winding down because aside from a few regulars, the early morning hours stayed very quiet.

After evaluating the pros and cons, we decided to change our hours in favor of those who want to wind down, grab their weekly teas or relax with a cup after work.  Effective November 1, 2011, our new hours will be


MONDAY – FRIDAY                            9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

SATURDAY                                            9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

CLOSED SUNDAYS (remember, that day is reserved for our tastings and classes !)


We hope the new hours work better with everyones’ schedule and always appreciate your feedback!


Kerstin & Bret