I’ve always loved Robbie Burns day, so when January 25 fell on a Thursday this year I knew I wanted to make something Scottish inspired. I’ve been loving bath bombs lately, so that’s where I started. As far as themes go, haggis seemed… unappealing… as did Chicken Tikka masala. So, I settled on milky tea. A British friend of mine once told me my Scottish ancestry was apparent in the vast quantities of milk I put in my tea, which I thought was rather amusing. Scotland by no means owns milk tea (it’s delicious, of course lots of other places have figured out it’s wonderful!), but whenever I think of Scotland I’m reminded of the lovely little cafe I visited when I was last in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Larder served the most wonderful oat scones with clotted cream and jam, and beautiful milky tea. I was there in September, and it was rather prone to rain and chills throughout my visit, and so warm milky tea always makes me think of Scotland. Hence, these lovely bath bombs.
I’ve been working on stepping up my bath bomb game lately, which was inspired (necessitated?) by my finally trying out a spherical bath bomb mould. They’re quite a bit fussier than I’d guessed, requiring some practice and formula improvement to get the whole deal to cooperate. I made two fairly small, but impactful changes.
Change #1 was blending the melted butter and solubilizer (polysorbate 80) into the powders before adding any other moisture, and making sure there was enough moisture there for the mixture to hold together reasonably well before any other liquid was added. This blending time also serves to break up any clumps in the powders.
Change #2 was incorporating some 70% isopropyl alcohol as well as my more standard witch hazel, allowing for a wetter mouldable mix that still wouldn’t set off and react (thanks to Carrie for the suggestion!).
For the milk I incorporated some milk powder into the bath bombs, which gives them the loveliest, creamy, milky froth when they fizz up in your bath. Palmarosa essential oil smells quite a lot like sweet black tea, which is quite lovely when it works up with the milk in your bath. The bombs are decorated with a few whole tea leaves to complete the effect.
The final bath bombs can be a touch crumbly, so do make sure you get them wet enough to properly press them together. They pair beautifully with a mug of tea in the bath, and perhaps a warm scone with clotted cream afterwards, and a good book.
Milky Tea Bath Bombs
Black tea leaves, for decoration (optional)
Brown mica, for decoration (optional).
Add the melted oils and essential oil to the powdered ingredients, and add the essential oil. Blend everything together thoroughly using a flexible silicone spatula—the final mixture should be uniform and resemble cookie dough a bit. If you grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze it should hold together a little.
Now it’s time to add just enough liquid to get the mixture to hold together in a mold. Not too much, though, or it will react in the bowl/mold, not in your bath. That’s why we’re using misters (they’ll spread the moisture better) of witch hazel and 70% isopropyl alcohol. The reaction isn’t as vigorous when you use witch hazel and alcohol (with the alcohol being less vigorous), plus the bath bombs dry faster.
Spread your mixture out in your bowl so you have as much surface area as possible, and spritz in some witch hazel—I found I needed 6–8 spritzes of witch hazel. Use your hands to quickly combine, misting and mixing. Once you can grab a fairly good handful of the mixture and it’ll hold together, mix in a few spritzes of alcohol. The final mixture should hold together quite well—you should be able to tap a squeezed handful with your finger and have it hold together.
Once the mixture will hold together, it’s time to mold it! I sprinkled a couple tea leaves into the bottom of a 2″ bath bomb mold and then formed my bath bombs from there. Tap the bath bombs out onto a sheet of wax paper, and dust with some brown mica if you’d like. Let dry overnight.
To use, drop in a hot bath and enjoy! This recipe will make about five 2″ bath bombs.
Because these bath bombs don’t contain any water once they dry, they do not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Be sure to keep them dry to ensure they last as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the container/bag you store them in and they should easily last a year.
- You can use a different kind of milk powder if you prefer; goat or coconut would be nice
- You can use more citric acid instead of Cream or Tartar
- You can use a different soft butter in place of the mango butter