One Bar of Spring Flowers (Err, Soap) Please
You approach a long dark wooden dining table. There is no light, but you can see a glimmer ahead. Shiny orbs of citrus fruit. Glistening beads of citrus pulp coming apart at the seams of citrus skin and pith. Yuzu. Lemon yellow. Chamomile blossoms droop and hang their tiny precious heads in a spray of sunshine. Velvety buds of lavender absorb the light and cast fragrant shadows. A tiny sliver of sun peels open the scene revealing this still life. You open your eyes; you’re in the shower.
In a past life, Tara was a chef. A good one, too. I’m sorry to tell you that I’ve had the pleasure of eating Tara’s food on a great number of occasions. Sorry, only because not many of you reading this will be able to partake in such joy. But here is the point—the soaps that Tara makes are like inedible meals: sensory treats that play with scent and color and the land of dreams, so that when we rub a bar of soap on our dripping wet bods, we can have an experience.
Now, it is almost Spring. Bees are buzzing, flowers are bursting, the forests are damp and the fields are turning wild shades of chartreuse. Yuzu Chamomile Spring Soap is here to meet the season. It’s the body-washing equivalent of an herbaceous salad with sweet dressing. Segmented citrus draped over soft herbs and drizzled with light honey. Take it for a suds.
Yuzu is a zesty, green-smelling citrus that yields an almost balsamic sweetness in the soap. It’s ineffably fragrant and adds tartness or acid in culinary preparations. For skin, it stimulates collagen production and is hailed for its anti-aging properties. It brightens and soothes skin and awakens the mind with its fresh citrus aroma. In a Japanese tradition from the 18th century, yuzu is wrapped in cheesecloth and floated in warm baths on the winter solstice in a ceremony meant to invite relaxation, invigorate the skin, warm the body, and protect against colds. A winter fruit, the addition of yuzu builds a sensory bridge from winter to spring.
Just like your before-bed cup of tea, when applied topically, chamomile is the ultimate skincare soother. It calms inflammation, alleviates redness, and its naturally occurring flavonoids and phytochemicals promote cell turnover for healthier, more youthful and resilient skin. Chamomile is a late spring groundspread flower. In Tara & Jeff’s upstate New York garden, they used chamomile to fill empty spaces instead of mulch. It was planted next to catnip, so their cat, Chester, would roll around in it, bringing a honeyed-apple floral scent to their evening cuddles.
High-Elevation Lavender (France, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence)
The harshness of the environment in which high-elevation lavender is grown remarkably only makes it sweeter and more concentrated—a triumph against odds. This region is special to Tara because they studied in Provence as a college student. This lavender is like nothing you’ve ever smelled. It is smooth and sweet with a fruity undertone and barely any of the herbal notes that the more common lavender varieties have. It is collected in the wild, making it very expensive and available only in small quantities.
Soaps should do more than clean, and this one relaxes the mind, soothes tension and anxiety, and helps release frustration and pent-up emotions—perhaps something we all need on a global scale. A tiny, lemony slice of calm and composure.
Turmeric from Hawaii that we were gifted from a friend gives this bar of soap a yellow color that matches its essence—fresh, zippy, and bursting with the warmth and promise of spring.
Written By Vera Kachouh