While visiting Sri Lanka late last year, I learnt a lot about tea. I also discovered a great deal about the island’s indigenous spice: cinnamon. So when I went to Cape Welligama on the southern coast, I was delighted to find the two combined in the form of soaps. Impressed by both the fragrance and feel of the products by a company called Ophir, I made enquiries as to where I could buy some. It turned out that Ophir was launching a whole beauty range – from soaps and scrubs to oils and moisturisers – and I had the chance to speak to the founder, Rohini Nordmann, about her project.
Sri Lankan by birth, Nordmann left the island as a small child and grew up in Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila. She returned to settle there some 10 years ago, working on various projects for Aman Resorts, and saw an opportunity to turn her fascination with holistic wellbeing into a niche product that promotes the virtues of the island, from its rich botanical heritage to the quality of its teas and spices. Ophir uses 100 per cent natural products, with the antioxidants present in tea being the core ingredient. These are mixed with natural oils that strengthen and nourish the skin, while improving clarity and tone – not to mention leaving a lingering fragrance that uplifts the soul.
These vibrantly packaged products (now available at many of Sri Lanka’s upmarket hotels and boutiques) make perfect presents – although, being diligent about my research, I kept all mine. There is Masala Chai Soap (from $3 for 90g), evoking that particularly heady south Indian concoction of black tea, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. The luxurious body oils include rejuvenating White Tea & Lavender ($16 for 120ml) and antioxidant-rich Black Tea, Patchouli & Black Pepper ($14 for 120ml), while the therapeutic Ceylon Red Tea Oil ($7 for 60ml) helps to prevent bruises or swelling. The aromatic Green Tea, Lemongrass & Rosemary Body Scrub ($14.50 for 200g) is a wonderful way to start the day, but my favourite has to be the Green Tea (that great anti-ager) & Sweet Basil Hair & Body Cleanser with added vitamin E. I can’t say I look decidedly younger after using it – but invigorated and deliciously fragrant I am for sure.