DIY Tea Soap

Have you ever had a tea so fragrant and delicious that you wish you could bottle its essence up and make perfume out of it?  When I came across some Sloane Teas in Toronto last year I realized how tea is actually the culinary version of perfume.  While I can’t blend my own perfumes, what I can do is make soap out of tea!  With a trip to the health food store, an easy-to-use soap base, and some favorite steeps, you can create rustic, nourishing tea soaps in so many shapes and varieties!

Rose Bud Herbal, Earl Grey Black Tea, Lavender Herbal, and Sencha Matcha Green Tea are some blends that I love to drink.  I thought that these teas would also make some refreshing soap blends because of their unique fragrances and cosmetic appeal.  While rose and lavender buds give off the prettiest shades of color, black and green teas have excellent exfoliating properties.
When I originally thought of making tea soap, I was going to do it the authentic way, with olive oil, coconut oil, and one very mysterious ingredient–lye.  After doing some research I realized that going the lye-based route wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it would be.  Apparently, gloves and goggles are a must when you work with this corrosive product.  At the word “saponify,” I closed out of the “how-to” You Tube video I was watching and decided to hit up my local craft store for some olive oil soap base, a microwaveable soap that’s amazingly convenient and easy-to-use.

If you’ve been to the beauty section of your health food store, you’ll most certainly encounter essential oils.  These oils are concentrated scents commonly used in combination with lotions and creams for moisturizing skin.  The scents are pure and often organic.  A few drops pack a powerful punch of scent.  As yummy as they smell, keep in mind that essential oils aren’t made for culinary uses.  Essential oils are oil-based and will carry scent for a long period of time where food extracts (like vanilla, rose water, or orange blossom water) won’t.

Keep the size, shape, and roughness of your tea choices in mind when you are making tea soaps.  For my selections, I ended up ripping and destemming the rose buds before adding them into the soap base.  My earl grey tea was pulsed in a spice grinder to create smaller bits–not as nice looking as the herbals, but much more effective as an exfoliant.  The buds and leaves of the lavender and green tea were softer and small enough that I didn’t have to alter them in any way.  Tea from tea bags also work well in tea soaps, as the leaves have often been cut and torn into smaller bits.

Without sounding too much like a lady of the backwoods, I’d like to mention that making tea soap is actually an incredibly fun and rewarding craft project.  It’s a fantastic way to use up any leftover teas that are sitting in the back of your tea cabinet or other teas that for some reason don’t please your palette.  Tea soaps make simple party favors, decorative bath accents, or a simple, fresh burst of daily aromatherapy to brighten your day.

DIY Tea Soaps

What You’ll Need:

melt & pour soap base

essential oils/ tea powders ( I used rose, bergamot, lavender, and match green tea powder)

leaf teas or herbals (I used rose buds, earl grey, lavender, and sencha)

soap or silicone molds (just any plastic mold with an inner smooth surface will do)

microwave safe medium or large mixing bowl

spoons for stirring

dough cutter or knife (for cutting chunks off of soap base brick)

tea towel

parchment paper and twine (optional)

Step-By-Step:

1.)  Looking at your soap mold(s), estimate the amount of soap base you will need to fill the molds.  Use a dough cutter or other dull cutting tool to cut off chunks of the soap base.  You can also use a knife to do this, just be careful as the soap can be sticky and slippery to the touch.

2.)  After you’ve cut off the amount of soap base you need, place it in a medium or large microwave safe bowl.  Melt it in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s directions.  For the amount needed for my mini bar soaps I only needed 20-30 seconds in the microwave on high.  The soap base melts readily in the microwave, so melt at 20 second intervals to avoid overheating.  Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with a tea towel, and stir in 1 tsp of the tea leaves and a 1/2 tsp of the essential oil (or tea powder).  I use these amounts for 1 of my 3″ x 2″ x 1″ soap bars.  You can adjust the amount of tea and essential oil according to how large your mold is.

3.)  With a spoon, mix together the tea leaves and essential oil (or tea powder) until you get an evenly mixed soap.

4.)  Pour the soap mixture into your mold(s), then set them aside until they have completely hardened.  Clean the mixing bowl by running under cold water.  The residual soap will peel off from the bowl.

5.)  After the soaps have completely hardened, pop them out of their molds.  Wrap each bar in a square of parchment paper and tie with twine until ready to use.

25 thoughts on “DIY Tea Soap

  1. I’m going to make these for housewarming gifts and guest soaps! Oh, I’m so excited, and thank you for linking up to the olive oil soap because I wouldn’t know where to get it otherwise. Did you find it hard to get the soaps out of the plastic molds? I noticed you used what look like little tupperware. Also, how do you know how much of the base soap to cut and melt (are there instructions on the package)? Like you, I love crafty projects and want to spend more of my free time doing them!

    • Oh that’s so great Ngan! If you live by a Hobby Lobby, you can get the soap base there too. I was looking for the coconut oil soap base when I wanted to make these, but they only carried the olive oil base that day. If you look up the same company, you can see all their soap base varieties–some are clear, and others are opaque.

      And I did use tupperware! I used super small tupperware that were slighty rectangular so they would look like mini bars. The best I can explain is that the hardened soap is wax (candle) like. If the mold is smooth and has some give, the soap will pop out easily if you gently tug the mold away from the soap. Even silicone molds (for baking and ice) will work very well for this project.

      As for the amount of soap, it really just depends on the size of the mold. I would just eyeball an appropriate amount for one mold, weigh it, then melt it in a microwave safe pyrex measuring cup. Keep track of how much you pour into one mold cavity, then multiply that liquid amount according to how many molds you have. When the soap base melts it actuslly loses a bit of volume, so slightly overestimate the amount you need for each mold by a Tbsp or so. And yes, the melting instructions are on the package. I suggest melting in 10-20 second increments so that the base doesn’t get overheated. Hope this helps Ngan, let me know how it goes!!

      • Thank you so much for all this info, Bonnie! I really appreciate it. I placed my order for the soap online since I don’t know which stores near me might carry it, and I bought some small rectangular and circular tupperware as molds. Just have to get my hands on some flowers and loose teas and I’ll be making soap all weekend! I agree with you about being happy when crafting. I think getting crafty like this is valuable stress-free relaxation time for me. I’m sure I can compile several weekends’ worth of crafts and DIY just through searching your blog alone! Have a great day!

  2. This is such a great DIY idea! I just have a quick question – how long did it take for the soaps to harden?

    • Thanks so much Rachel! The best I can describe it is that the soap acts very much like candle wax does. It goes from hot to cool very fast (a few minutes), and then to fully harden it’s another 10-15 minutes (for my small molds). You can easily speed up the hardening process by placing the filled molds in the fridge. Have the tea and soap molds set up so that once you take the melted soap out of the microwave everything is ready to go. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. Thanks for the idea! My grandmother loves tea and her birthday is coming up soon. I’m making her a tea basket and I thought tea soap would be perfect in it.

  4. Love your site Bonnie. After visiting your website, decided to make soap for the first time using tea and glycerine melt and pour soap base. The tea in the soap acts as a scrub and it’s terrific but it isn’t soapy as I’d like it to be. Any suggestions what type of soap base should be used in order to get a more soapy feel? Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much for the kind words Bernadine. If you used the same brand of glycerin soap that I did, I know what you mean. The lack of soapiness might be due to the brand we used just as much as the type. So, first, I would suggest using another type of soap base (like goat’s milk or shea butter) and would also suggest exploring some other brands of soap if you can (Bramble Berry and New Directions Aromatics are two that come to mind). Hope this helps, and Happy Friday! 🙂

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