Ginger Essential Oil Processing

Properties of Ginger

Most of us have had ginger in some kind of food and probably have some in the spice rack, but what else is it good for?

Ginger has been recognized as a highly medicinal plant in Asia as well as being used as an exotic ingredient in perfumes, it is also said to an aphrodisiac.

When it comes to the essential oil, and hydrosol, it has wonderful properties for treating sore joints and muscles.  This is why it is commonly found in Dit Da Jow formulations.

Ginger is also a common middle note ingredient in perfumes and colognes providing that warm and spicy note.

Distilling into Essential Oil and Hydrosol

The last time we ran ginger through our steam distiller we did not get a very good yield but we did learn a lot about what not to do.

This time we started with 3.5 pounds of fresh ginger root which we let dry for a couple of weeks.  Today we ran it through the food processor to get it chopped up into nice little bits which we will let dry for a few days prior to running through the still.

In researching the proper way to process ginger into essential oil, this is the preferred method and should provide the highest yield possible, besides CO2 extraction.

You can purchase our Ginger Hydrosol in our online store, and in our physical store.  We hope to have the essential oil for sale soon as well but we need to start making enough of it first.

If you are able to come into our physical store be sure to bring your containers as we will be happy to fill them and help keep the waste down to a bare minimum.

Still with Ginger

Update on the yield

One of the interesting parts about distillation is the yield of oil and hydrosol we get.  For this run we started with 448 grams of semi-dry ginger and we produced 3.25g of Essential Oil and 900ml of hydrosol.
That translates to a .7% yield of essential oil and 200% yield of hydrosol.  I think we may have gotten a better yield number if we had let it dry just a couple of more days as there was still a fair amount of moisture in the material which can throw these numbers off.

New and Improved Face and Eye Cream

Our Face and Eye Cream Needed an Update

We are in between orders for some of our packaging but needed to make some more eye cream and are out of the 1 oz jars we have been using.  After a run through our inventory, we realized we still have quite a few plastic bottles and one of them is a great 50ml airless treatment pump, that is a little under 2 ounces.

For a potentially limited time, we have our SVF Face and Eye Cream available in a larger container.  We also took this opportunity to reformulate it a bit and it now contains the Cucumber Hydrosol we created a while back.

Jars Will Be Back

  We are trying to use less plastic, but also need to find ways to use the plastic containers we already have in a responsible manner.   If you like the larger pump bottles please let us know, you can even use them to fill your favorite small travel container to take some with you.

We will be getting more jars, and would even like yours back so we can clean and reuse them!

Three Must Have Base Teas For Blends

Some of your favorite tea blends start from three main base teas: Assam, Keemun, and Darjeeling.  You can make your tea experience much better and conserve cupboard space by keeping these teas in stock.

Let’s go over these teas and then we can get to some recipes and customization!

Assam Tea

Assam comes from India and has a rich, malty flavor which is complimented well with milk and sugar.

The version we get is the highest quality T.G.F.O.P (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) which is mostly tips.

You will find Assam at the base of many favorites like Earl Grey.

Keemun Tea

Keemun is also known as China Black which is one of the highest quality of teas to come out of China.  Often referred to as the “burgundy of teas” it produces a sweet, liqouring, full bodied, dark red cup.  Keemun also makes a great iced tea and does not cloud easily.

Our Keemun is F.O.P. (Flowery Orange Pekoe) which is a high quality long leaf tea with pleanty of tips.

By itself Keemun is a delicious tea and when combined, as we will see shortly, with other teas it becomes something magical.

Darjeeling Tea

Darjeeling comes from the southern slopes of the Himalayas, which is located on India’s northern border.  It’s delicate floral aroma and a mildly fruity flavor, with a slight astringent nip makes it indescribably unique and delicious.

Our Darjeeling is a high quality T.G.F.O.P. and is considered one of the fanciest of Darjeeling teas.

Blending some classic teas and making them your own

The three most popular breakfast teas are English, Irish, and Scottish and though there are no standard recipes for them we can get a general idea of the ratios.  They have essentially the same ingredients but in differing ratios:

English Breakfast Tea: 2 parts Assam, 1 part Keemun

Irish Breakfast Tea: 2 parts Keemun, 1 part Assam

Scottish Breakfast Tea: 1 part Assam, 1 part Keemun, 1 part Ceylon

An initial way to customize your breakfast tea blend would be to slightly alter the ratios until it is exactly where you want them.  Be sure to make note of this so you can recreate it each time.

Another variation would be to replace the Ceylon in Scottish breakfast tea with Darjeeling.  This would add it’s unique flavor to the blend and help round it out.


We made a post a while ago about making Earl Grey Tea and a slight customization.  As we said in that article Earl Grey is a black tea base with bergamot essential oil.  Though Assam is the primary tea used in Earl Grey, Keemun and Darjeeling make excellent substitutions.

I love mint tea as it is great for clearing sinuses, treating indigestion, and it’s just plain tasty.  Sometimes I really want a little caffeine kick with it so adding peppermint or spearmint to Assam or Keemun does just the trick.  The mint is also naturally a bit sweet so adding sugar or other sweeteners is not necessary.

Keemun is our go to for making iced tea which is great on it’s own but you can take it up a notch by adding fresh fruit slices while you are brewing it.  You can also customize your cup by brewing it straight and adding some of your favorite fruit juice to your glass and blending in the tea until it’s just right.

Cucumber Hydrosol

Today We Are Distilling Cucumber

Cucumber has many great benefits for our skin, I’m sure you’ve seen products touting that they are using it in one way or another.

You may be asking why we have not used it thus far and the answer is fairly simple, it’s expensive stuff if you have to buy it.  As we try to keep our pricing within reason some products are just out of our reach, until now.

After doing a little research we’ve discovered that we can distill our own cucumber hydrosol using locally sourced, organic cucumbers.  We were a little late getting to it this year but we should be able to make enough to make an impact on our products that utilize a water component like lotions, face creams, etc.

We will also have the hydrosol itself available for purchase as we know there are lots of you out there that like to experiment and make your own things.


Running low on Earl Grey Tea?

Darjeeling Jasmine Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey is one of our favorite teas and is a staple in most tea cupboards.  But what happens if you run out and you really want a cup but don’t want to run to the store?
Well, make it yourself!

What is Earl Grey anyhow?

I am not going to rehash the entire Wikipedia article on Earl Grey but I will summarize.
Earl Grey was presented to Lord Charles Grey by a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of Lord Grey’s men.
The tea is typically made with any number of black teas and bergamot oil. 
Really, it’s that easy!

Some tea companies are branching out and using other base teas like green, oolong, and others but most blends use Assam.

Great history lesson, how do I make Earl Grey tea?

One of the great things here is that you can make your own unique blend of Earl Grey that no one else will have, because you made it.  Here’s how:

  1. Select a black tea of your liking
  2. In a mixing bowl put in a few drops of Bergamot Essential Oil.  The amount of oil you use is up to you and is what will make this your blend so experiment and keep notes.
  3. Put some of the black tea you chose earlier in the bowl and move it around the bowl to get it coated with the Bergamot Essential Oil.
    The amount of tea you use is also up to you as this will make it more unique.  Be sure to keep notes on how much you use so you can replicate it later.
  4. Taste test.  Drop a few leaves in some hot water and let it steep.  Taste the resulting tea and adjust the amount of tea and oil until you have it just to your liking.
  5. Don’t stop there.  That is the basic Earl Grey recipe, but there is no reason you can’t keep going.  For instance adding some crushed up jasmine flowers, orange peel, etc.
    This is your tea, be sure it has your signature all over it.

Herbs and Spices, You Are Getting Ripped Off!

You Know You are Overpaying for Herbs and Spices

I know you hear all the time that buying herbs and spices at the grocery store is a rip off, so why are you still doing it?

I think the biggest reason is convenience.  You are already at the grocery store and you just want to get home and get dinner going or relax or whatever.  However, this is killing your pocket book and you may not know how much it’s costing you so I’m going to break it down using Bay leafs and Basil as an example.

Breaking down the costs

On my last trip to the big box grocery store I took a few pictures of some well known herb and spice brand bottles and shelf price tags, their identities have been masked to protect their anonymity.


Pictured two name brand and one store brand Basil containers.  Each container has about .5 ounces, and if you want a laugh zoom into the photos and check out their price per ounce on the shelf tag.

The pricing on the Basil is $8.99, $7.99 and $3.99.

Bay Leaves

For the Bay leaves I got all three brand names in there and they each have about .14 ounces in each jar, really zoom in on the price per ounce on the shelf tag for these.

The pricing on the Bay is $10.99, $6.99, and $15.99.

Here is where it gets real

In our shop we carry high quality Organic and Kosher Certified Basil and Bay Leaves.  The Basil comes from Egypt and the Bay from Turkey.   There are times that we have to hold our orders because our supplier ran out and is waiting for restock, though annoying it does ensure that we aren’t buying herbs and spices that have just been sitting around for a few years.

Our Basil vs. Theirs

Our Basil currently sells for $0.04/gram.  The equivalent quantity of Basil to the big box store would only cost $0.57 and if you didn’t have a jar we sell them for $1.99.

This means you are spending $6.43, $5.43, or $1.43 more at the big box store than if you were to buy them in bulk.

Our Bay vs. Theirs

Our Bay leaves currently sells for $0.06/gram.  The equivalent quantity of Bay leaves to the big box store would only cost $0.24 and again, we have jars at $1.99.

This means you are spending $13.76, $8.76, or $4.76 more at the big box store than if you were to buy them in bulk.

So Stop Getting Ripped Off!

This post just compared two very commonly used herbs, and I can tell you that bottle of Basil would be gone with one batch of tomato sauce.  I get that we want convenience when shopping, it’s hard enough to get through the work day sometimes and we don’t want to bounce around a bunch of stores.

Another thing to remember is that you really want to replace your herbs and spices at least every 6 months, though hopefully you’ve used them before that time.

What Can We Do To Help?

While I am sitting here writing this I noticed that I am calling you all out a bit, so now I’m going to call ourselves out a little because really what are we doing to help you buy better?

One thing that comes to mind is you can call us with your list and we can have everything packaged and ready for you to pickup at your convenience.  
Another way we could help is if you dropped off your containers and a list of what you want we can fill them up and keep a little more plastic out of our landfill.

You should be able to get and use fantastic herbs and spices without getting ripped off and without it being a huge interruption to your schedule.  If you think of other ways we could make this easier on you please let us know, after all we’re here for you.


A Gift of Tea

The Perfect Introduction to Tea

This holiday season when you are trying to find a special, unique gift why not choose the gift of tea. One of the best things about tea is that it is versatile and can be blended to just about anyone’s taste, even those that don’t think they like tea.

Herbal, Black, Green, Red, and yes Blue too

The variety of teas is vast and can be a little daunting when you are presented with a wall of herbs, teas, and spices. I like to keep the following things in mind when I am buying tea:

  • Can I see it?
    • You should never buy tea that you cannot see or, in the case of shops like ours, you can’t see the raw materials that the bags were filled with. Many brand name companies will hide inferior ingredients in prebagged tea but still, charge you a price.
  • Can I smell it?
    • This has two meanings:
      • If I have a stuffy nose it’s not a great time to be looking for new teas. Being able to smell the herbs and base teas is essential to making sure it will be enjoyable.
      • Some teas are in sealed packaging, to keep it fresh so they say, which does not allow you to smell it. When you make hundreds of thousands of boxes of tea that could sit around for quite some time before being sold this is the only way to go. Sadly this also means that you will not always get the best cup of tea or even what you might have been expecting by the manufacturer’s description.
  • Can I taste it?
    • When we get a new shipment of teas and herbs I like to take a little of it, mash it between my fingers and taste it on my tongue. This gives a pure indication of what it will taste like and if there are any oddities. You should do this too when you are looking at buying tea, herbs, and spices so you are sure about the flavor.
    • If it is a prebagged tea it is always nice to get a cup from somewhere first to try it out and see if you really like it. In some tea shops, like ours, we have the bags we make loose so you can get a cup of tea to give it a spin.

Make your gift unique

Tea Gift Box Single Bag

Whether you want a big box of tea, or a few bags we can make custom blends for your stocking stuffers and presents for your tea lovers. We look forward to helping you get one of the best gifts this year, the gift of tea.

Time to Boost Your Immune System

Immune System Boosting Infusion

School is back in session and the weather is changing so it’s time to start boosting our immune system.  You may be tempted to reach for a bottle of chemicals to drown out the symptoms, but we have a better solution.

Back to Nature

Most over the counter cold “medicines” are nothing but a chemical cocktail that masks symptoms long enough for you to start feeling better and pass the bug along to unsuspecting people you run into through out the day.  If only they were forced to advertise it as such.
Since we started our store we have posted a few infusions that you can make at home to remedy certain ailments, but what if you could avoid them altogether?
In a moment I will get to a list of herbs that can be boiled into an infusion that will kick your immune system into gear and help keep you from catching those nasties, or if you do the ailment will not last very long.

Gathering the Ingredients

Today we are making a pretty big batch as we want to have enough to last a while, here is what you want to gather:

  • 56 grams Elderberry dried
  • 28 grams Echinacea Leaf
  • 14 grams Horehound Leaf
  • 14 grams Mullein Leaf
  • 14 grams Licorice Root
  • 7 grams Linden Leaf & Flower
  • 1.9 litres Filtered Water 

When your ingredients are gathered, combine them in a pot, bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  This will need to simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half.
Once the liquid is reduced remove the pot from heat and let it cool completely.  After the infusion has cooled strain the infusion using a mesh strainer, then run through a coffee filter to remove any fine particles left over from the herbs.
The infusion can be a bit bitter, even though we added some licorice root, so adding a little local honey can help make this much more palatable.

Dosage and Storage

One tablespoon of the infusion should be taken one to two times a day, three if you feel like you have been exposed to anything nasty.  The rest can be stored in the fridge and if you have made a lot it can be frozen for future use.  If you do store any in the freezer be sure to let it defrost naturally, never in the microwave or stovetop.

A Word About Mung Beans

I would like to talk a bit about mung beans as there are some very interesting side effects that are good to know.  Warning, there will be talk of bodily functions though I will try not to get too graphic.

It Could Get a Little Messy

Unfortunately part way into this experiment my daughter and I came down with a bit of a stomach bug which mostly caused intense diarrhoea.  This was compounded by a similar effect that mung beans can have on some people resulting in a rather uncomfortable couple of days.

If you are planning on starting treatment with mung beans I would be a bit cautious if your bowels are sensitive and take some counter measures to help reduce the loosening effects.

Goji Berries to the Rescue

One of the recipes I found for mung bean soup mentioned adding goji berries to the soup if the mung beans were being a bit too aggressive on the bowel.  Another reference I found mentioned being cautious with the amount of beans you ingest if they are under-cooked as this is an expected result.
Thus, I have reduced the amount of mung beans I am using to 1 tablespoon and I have added three chopped goji berries to the mix.

Why am I Testing Everyday?

The last time I took my blood pressure it came out at 147/83, a jump higher than the 124 that it had been the previous day.  I know that part of this jump was my body being under a lot of stress with the stomach bug, but I am thinking that trying to test this every day was getting to be a bit much.
I am going to start testing about 2 times a week now which will hopefully reduce any stress from trying to get out to the test machine in a timely manner, and it will give more time for everything to settle in.

How I am Feeling Now

I won’t lie, I live a very stressful life and it is very difficult to relieve that stress without allowing certain things to become neglected.  This alone creates a situation that hypertension thrives in and is one of the largest aspects of my life I am attempting to change along with doing things to help my body stabilise.
Since starting the mung bean tea regimen I have noticed a lot of fluctuation with my body temperature.  Without any changes to the ambient temperature I will notice that I will cycle from hot to cold and then just parts of my body getting cold and then warming up.  I don’t really have anyone else to compare notes with on this so I would love to hear from any of you that are trying this and what your thoughts are, comments are open.

Hypertension Early Results

We left off yesterday with a brief introduction to my battle with hypertension and the promise of showing some results from after exercising.  I also have some very interesting results for day 2.

Blood Pressure after Exercise

Blood Pressure after Exercise

I was very happy that we were doing breaking in class last night as that is one of the things that is very hard on our bodies and we always have a very good warm-up before getting to the actual breaking.
After class, we traveled a short distance and the results were a bit amusing 153/86.  I find this amusing because this is not far from the measurement I took in the morning but my heart rate is still a tad elevated, which the morning test showed as being quite normal.

A Morning Surprise

Morning Blood Pressure Results no Hypertension

This morning after a good breakfast we went to Rite-Aid to take my blood pressure and I was delighted at the results.
125/82, which notice the machine still says is high, is a fantastic change from my norm.  This is pretty much right where I should be and I am looking forward to seeing if continued use of the mung bean tea will stabilize this and what will happen after a few weeks when I start taking this less and less.  I am guessing that once I have my blood pressure at a stable norm I will only require the tea once or twice a month if at all as the goal is to get my body to a point where it is safe and can start managing this on it’s own.

I Scoff at the High BP Indication

Let me preface this by stating that I am not a medical doctor and that I am not able to diagnose or prescribe anything.  What I am is someone, possibly much like you, that is tired of our medical industry cow towing to the pharmaceutical companies and I have no issues experimenting on myself.

If you perform a search for new blood pressure guidelines you will see a few links to the guidelines published in early 2018.  You will also see many more articles about how these guidelines are much more about selling medication than they are about healing our bodies.
There is also a lot of great information available about how Big Pharma makes most of their profits off of lifestyle “disease”.  A Lifestyle “disease” is one that is brought on typically by an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and other environmental issues.  All of these are easily cured by making simple changes to our daily routines or even moving away from a toxic area.

Back to my scoffing.  In the last image, my BP is pretty much right where it should be but the reading still states that it is high.  This is because of the text and color indicators for these machines have been updated per the new guidelines and are, in my opinion, absolute rubbish.