Sip of Serenity
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Its health benefits run the gamut from slowing the aging process to protecting against cancer. A hot cup of tea is also synonymous with the spa experience, bringing to mind the soothing sounds and smells of the treatment room or relaxation area with a toasty fireplace. “Tea is a crucial element of the overall spa experience,” says Helen Brown, spa director at Mayflower Spa at Mayflower Inn & Spa (Washington, CT), which serves Tea Forté to its guests. “It’s both an opportunity to savor something delicious, soothing, and good for you, as well as to enjoy a moment of contemplation, to be at rest, still, and tranquil, which is increasingly rare for us in this fast-paced world. Tea is symbolic of relaxation, harmony, patience, respect, health, and the ability to be present enough to fully appreciate the subtle nuances of a multi-layered experience, very much what we’d love our guests to experience during any spa visit.”
It’s not only an ingestible delight, but increasingly, tea is also used as an ingredient in treatments and skincare lines. “Tea, in general, is a very calming and soothing ingredient,” says Gary Goldfaden, M.D., a dermatologist and founder of Goldfaden Skincare, which uses organic red tea, also called rooibos tea, as the foundation for its products. “When people enter spas, they want to feel relaxed and rejuvenated, so using treatments and products that contain one of the highest levels of soothing and rejuvenation for not only inside the body, but outside as well, is so important to capture the ultimate spa experience.”
All varieties of tea contain high concentrations of powerful antioxidants that work to repair cells damaged by free radicals, which occur naturally in the body but are increased by environmental toxins such as UV rays, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. Many scientists believe free radicals contribute to the aging process, intensify wrinkles, dull the skin, and contribute to illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. Doctors and skincare educators say antioxidants, such as those found in tea, may help prevent health problems and skin damage caused by free radicals.
Rooibos is technically not a tea at all, but a caffeine-free herb from the South African plant aspalathus linearis. However, it’s very rich in antioxidants and is, therefore, used in many of Goldfaden Skincare’s treatments. Red tea doesn’t contain any tannins or caffeine, so it is soothing to the skin. “Red tea, when used topically, works to reduce redness and inflammation while simultaneously repairing and rejuvenating the skin,” says Goldfaden. “All tea forms are soothing and healing, so using products that contain tea will tremendously help skin ails including redness and rosacea, inflammation, swelling and puffiness, and dull or grey-toned skin. Tea works to brighten overall skintone due to its high antioxidant levels.”
All other types of tea—black, green, and white—come from the same plant: camellia sinensis. It is the oxidation process that differentiates the teas. “Think of when you cut an apple and leave it out—it turns brown. This is the oxidation process,” explains Jane Whitman, director of on- premise sales at Tea Forté. “This oxidation process is used with tea leaves to help develop the variety of flavors.” She adds that white teas are the least oxidized and black teas are the most. Green teas are in the middle. “Because of green tea’s minimal processing, its leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented, like black and oolong teas,” says Whitman. “Green tea’s unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate, are more concentrated. EGCG has been shown to help prevent free radical damage to the skin.”
While most treatments can easily blend tea and incorporate its benefits, facials focusing on anti-aging, soothing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-acne or redness are especially suited to it. Goldfaden suggests mixing tea with peptides, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid to create an even more effective product. The Spa Internazionale at Fisher Island Club (Miami Beach, FL), for example, offers a Red Tea Antioxidant Booster Facial ($85, 60 minutes), and Skin Therapy Clinic (Aspen, CO) offers Goldfaden’s Anti-redness/Anti-inflammatory Purifying Facial ($85, 60 minutes).
Éminence Organic Skin Care features several products that incorporate the benefits of tea including its Green Tea & Guava Fortifying Serum and Mandarin & Rooibos Antioxidant Masque. “The beauty of teas is that they work in an endless combination with all ingredients but can also be combined with key ingredients for specific concerns,” says Stephanie Baresh, director of marketing and public relations for Éminence Organic Skin Care. “Rosehip tea combined with soothing ingredients, such as yarrow oil, gives healing benefits to sensitive, rosacea-prone skin, and calendula tea and shea butter work to revive dry skin. Teas can also be combined with compatible scent-related ingredients to enhance the aromatherapy experience—sweet lime green tea combined with a lime massage soufflé is a delightful combination to refresh the senses.”
While focusing on its topical skincare benefits, don’t forget to serve it as a refreshment, hot or cold, depending on the season. “A lot of our spa clients offer tea as a beverage to help gain exposure and interest in the tea-inspired treatments that are being offered,” says Goldfaden. “By doing so, it connects the main ingredient being used and highlights a sense of calming and ultimate rejuvenation of the body, both inside and out, for the clients.”
Tea Forté recently launched Skin-Smart teas, part of the beauty-from-within ingestible trend. “It is the hottest growth segment in the estimated $45 billion beauty business,” says Whitman, adding that the Skin-Smart teas carry Brunswick Lab’s ORAC seal. This seal was developed by the USDA and Tufts University to quantifiably measure the potency of antioxidants found in foods and beverages that protect cells and their components from damage by oxidative stress, a major factor in the progression of aging.
Offering teas in the retail area at your spa is also a way to send a bit of spa pampering home with clients after they enjoy a memorable tea-themed treatment. Each time they sit down to savor a cup, the taste and aroma will bring them back to the spa—and remind them to book another treatment. It’s a win-win for spas and their clients.