Skin to a ‘T’

Japanese scholar Okakura Kakuzo says the Chinese believed applying tea to the skin in a paste-like form could relieve rheumatic pain. Taoists, he says, considered tea an important ingredient of the “elixir of immortality.”

Although we know tea doesn’t confer lasting life, scientists today do believe it can extend the youthfulness of skin.

Miriam Kleinman, founder of Teava Skincare, says that applying tea ingredients directly to the skin can help smooth wrinkles and prevent premature aging.

“When consuming a diet high in antioxidants, only 2 to 3 percent [of those benefits] actually reach the skin,” says Kleinman, 26, a Michigan State University biochemistry graduate who’s now a doctoral candidate in molecular and cell toxicology. “Many of the beneficial components of tea are also broken down during the steeping process.”

Kleinman launched Teava Skincare last fall ( with product-branding help from local designer Viet Le.

Her product line, which is produced in metro Detroit, incorporates tea for its bountiful array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and proteins. “Tea contains anti-inflammatory components that soothe skin and reduce redness, and anti-immunogenic components that reduce the skin’s susceptibility to irritation,” Kleinman says.

While most skincare products praise the benefits of green and white tea, Kleinman believes rooibos, or red tea, is the “holy grail” of skincare.Teava’s Awake eye cream, which contains rooibos tea and baobab fruit, is designed to work together to diminish puffiness, dark circles, and dryness around the eye, and, according to Kleinman, its anti-aging effects are always at work.

“[Rooibos] contains potent levels of vitamins and minerals that are very healing to the skin, which evens out the complexion and heals scarring,” Kleinman says. Rooibos also contains a mild alpha-hydroxy acid, which Kleinman says results in ultra-smooth skin and, in turn, prevents wrinkles, allowing us to look and feel younger — despite our mortality.

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