Tag Archives: Job’s tears

Job’s Tears and Calendula Soaps

As much as I enjoy making soaps with fragrance oils and pigments, my first and true love has always been natural, therapeutic soaps. I get really excited discovering and experimenting with new ingredients that may offer any kind of skin benefit.

I have been soaping like crazy since I came back from Taipei two weeks ago. I made mostly fragrance oil-scented soaps, but I managed to make two all-natural ones using some of the ingredients I stuffed my suitcase with.

With so many choices, it was hard to pick which ingredient to use first. I finally settled on calendula, a very popular herb among soap makers, but it was my first time to use it.

Dried Calendula Petals

Dried Calendula Petals

Instead of steeping the petals in oil, I made a concentrated tea and let it steep overnight. Since we don’t have calendula in the Philippines (maybe we do, but I am not aware of it), I didn’t want to throw away the petals.  I wanted to use everything so I separated most of the liquid and proceeded to blitz the remaining calendula with reconstituted goat’s milk powder.  I mixed all the liquid with the blended petals into my oils – coconut, olive, palm, rice bran and cocoa butter – before adding my master-batched 50% lye solution.

To intensify the yellow color, I used 2 parts blood orange e.o. and 1 part litsea cubeba, totalling 4.2% of my oils. Next time I will increase the essential oils to at least 5% because at 4.2%, the scent is barely there. I wanted to add some interest so I tried doing a pencil line for the first time. I really like the effect but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the activated charcoal.

Calendula 2

Calendula and Goat's Milk Soap

Calendula and Goat’s Milk Soap

The second ingredient I decided to use was Job’s Tears powder (coix lacryma jobi). It is also known as Chinese pearl barley, but it has nothing to do with the common pearl barley that most of us are familiar with.  In China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, it is eaten as a grain or cooked into a drink.  It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for its cooling and anti-cancer properties, and for its stimulating action on the spleen, kidneys and lungs. Beauty-wise, it is reputed to remove blemishes and make the skin softer. (Click here to read more on the benefits of Job’s Tears)

Job's Tears powder

Job’s Tears powder

Job's Tears in Chinese

Job’s Tears in Chinese

I still have some lard that I carefully rendered with salt and water a few months ago. I plan to just finish what I have and no longer use it in the future. It is just too tedious to make and I don’t think it would appeal to people even though it makes for a gentle and hard bar of soap.

I needed the extra hardness for the facial soap I had in mind, so I incorporated a little bit of lard into my recipe containing coconut, olive, avocado, rice bran, pili and castor oils.  I also added 2% salt and 1.5% sodium lactate, less than what I used for my Charcoal Neem Soap.  For a richer and creamier soap, I used coconut cream, and to keep it all natural, I used essential oils of blood orange, rosemary and tea tree. I mixed the essential oils with Job’s Tears powder along with kaolin clay and turmeric powder to anchor the scent, before adding everything into the soap batter at light trace.

Job's Tears & Coconut Cream

Job's Tears 2

Job's Tears 5

Job’s Tears & Coconut Cream Soap

I love that the soap is completely ash-free and the texture is so smooth and creamy.  I think the powders, partly acting as anchors for the essential oils, worked, because I could smell the blood orange amidst the strong tea tree. I hope the scent stays after cure!

Tripping Out in Old Taipei

Last April, my husband and I took advantage of a buy one, take one airfare promo, and booked it around October 13, our wedding anniversary.  We wanted somewhere near, so we picked the nearest capital city, Taipei, which is just 2 hours away from Manila.  Hubby has never been to Taiwan and the last time I was there was in the early 1990s.

On our second day there, as I was researching on how to go to the fabric market, I read about Dihua Street, the oldest street in Taipei, and an important commercial hub for Taiwanese products such as medicinal herbs, teas, specialty food, textiles, etc.  This really piqued my interest, plus the fabric market was in the same area.

Oh boy! I really tripped out when I saw all the goods laid out in abundance inside the shops with more displays spilling out onto the building’s covered walkway. All I could think of were “soapabilities”.  Poor hubby, there really was nothing there of interest to him, but he patiently waited.

Here are snapshots of Dihua Street and its shops:

Dihua Street

Dihua Street

Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.

Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.

Rose Tea

Dried rosebuds for tea

Up-close, simply gorgeous.

Up-close, simply gorgeous.

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Sadly, shark's fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.

Sadly, shark’s fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.

Ta-dah…….my Dihua haul:

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L to R: sweet osmanthus, calendula, mixed floral tea

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Lavender and chamomile

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L to R: powdered black sesame, black bean (but it’s not black), Job’s Tears

Still not satisfied, I had to go back again. This time I came a bit more prepared and researched on the items that I saw but were unfamiliar to me, and looked up the Chinese names of things I wanted to get, like stinging nettle, which I found! I still have to show my haul to my mom to make sure I have what I think I got. She can read and write fluent Chinese, but regrettably I don’t.

Clockwise from top left: mung bean powder, mugwort, roselle, stinging nettle, rose, brown rice powder

Clockwise from top left: mung bean powder, mugwort, roselle, stinging nettle, rose, brown rice powder

In popular stores in the city, I saw a lot of imported French soaps, including the large cube-shaped Marseille soaps that I had previously seen in photos only. Of the local handmade soaps, Monga Soap was the one that stood out and what I kept on seeing. From their brochure, these are some of the medicinal ingredients they use in their soaps: Asian puccoon, roots of Chinese Angelica, leguminosae, ginkgo leaves, pearl powder, polygonum multiflorum, absinthium, pogostemon cablin benth, etc. I still have to research on these things as I am not familiar with most of them.

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Monga: all-natural Taiwanese handmade soap

There would be something amiss if I didn’t make any mention of the fantastic eats in Taiwan. It is truly a foodie’s paradise where you can find practically anything and everything. We stuck to Asian cuisines, mostly Taiwanese, except for European desserts which are very popular there. When traveling, we always try to do as the Romans do. 🙂 Here are a few of the dishes I was able to take photos of:

Din Tai Fung's famous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with "soup" inside)

Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with “soup” inside)

Din Tai Fung's wonton soup

Din Tai Fung’s wonton soup

Du Hsiao Yueh's scallops with silken tofu

Du Hsiao Yueh’s scallops with silken tofu

Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes

Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes

Vanilla panna cotta and green tea millefeuille

Vanilla panna cotta and green tea mille-feuille from Pozzo Bakery