Aromatherapy, or using scents for their effects on the body and mind, has been around in different forms for thousands of years. In this entry, we’d like to introduce the soothing qualities of tea aromatherapy.
First off, let’s not confuse tea with tea tree oil. Used in many applications including aromatherapy, tea tree oil comes from the plant Melaleuca alternifolia (referred to by many common names) of Australia, which is not at all closely related to the tea plant (Camillia sinensis). Thus, any information on aromatherapy for tea tree oil does not correspond to tea aromatherapy.
Information on tea leaves for aromatherapy is very difficult to find in English due to the popularity of tea tree oil and the loose definition of “tea” in English. However, tea aromatherapy has gained popularity in Japan in the last fifteen years, and our “oil warmers” are referred to there as 茶香炉 (chakouro, or “tea incense burner”). Tea aromatherapy is known to relax the mind and body, making it popular in alleviating stress. It is also used to improve concentration and deodorize rooms.
Recently, a collaboration between two industries, an aromatherapy specialist and the tea farmers of Shizuoka, has resulted in the development of a tea essence liquid, which is now being sold as Green Breath and 茶乃香 (cha no kaori or “Scent of Green Tea”). They gather the steam released as a byproduct of tea processing and extract the scents of green tea. This ingenious method extracts a purely natural green tea-scent that can be used in commercial products or at home. Because it was just released earlier this year, it’s not yet available in the US.
In the meantime, try tea aromatherapy with your favorite tea. You can use any standard aromatherapy oil warmer by just putting tea leaves in the place of oil in the shallow dish on top. As an added bonus, by using tea leaves for aromatherapy, you’re creating your very own special tea. The tea leaves become roasted as they release their scent, so after many hours of aromatherapy, you have hojicha!
Any tea can be used, and each tea will have its own unique scent. You can also use tea leaves that have gotten old or stale to save them from going to waste while revitalizing yourself at the same time. We recommend Kukicha for its sweet, relaxing aroma.