Golden Beauty

Golden Beauty

Category : Beauty

Gold was being used in Chinese medicine more than 4000 thousand years ago, and in India forms part of longstanding Ayurvedic treatments designed to rejuvenate older people. In the early part of last century, before more ‘modern’ scientific drugs were developed, gold was even used to treat tuberculosis, rheumatism and syphilis.

Surprisingly, it also appears to have many properties which are very useful in beauty treatments, and there are increasing numbers of (very expensive) products out there literally sparkling with promise. I was not sure how far to believe the claims I was reading, but there does seem to be a lot of reputable research around.

So, those little flakes of 24 carat in your face cream may well be worth the price. Because it seems that gold not only has antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it boosts circulation and helps the absorption of other skincare ingredients. Add to this its ability to help firm the skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and thus delay the aging process, and you have what amounts to magic in a pot.

I found this trial set, from Hakuichi, Japan, at Haneda airport, and thought it would be a fine way to spend up my remaining yen. The sample sizes were also very convenient for my next trip, and in fact lasted for literally weeks afterwards, which was a nice surprise.

All the products contained a liberal sprinkling of golden flecks, although I soon discovered that if I used a cotton pad to apply them, the gold stuck to the cotton and did not go on my face. Using my fingers got around this problem very well.

The highlight of the set was the folder of gold leaf sheets, to be applied to the face. The trick is apparently to apply serum first, then – using the clean end of the paper slip so that your fingers do not touch the gold leaf – apply the gold to your face. After about 10 minutes, you can then apply a little more serum and massage the gold leaf into your skin.

I was amazed to see that the gold leaf really did seem to vanish into my skin, because I was fully expecting it to be crumbling off into the sink and sticking to my fingertips. Whether just a couple of applications has any noticeable effect remains to be seen, certainly nobody was commenting on my new sparkle afterward, but I enjoyed this range very much and – if the normal size wasn’t so expensive – would consider buying it again.

The World’s Most Expensive Tea?

Category : Food


Singapore has no end of expatriate ‘ladies who lunch’, and therefore no end of fancy cafes and tea rooms happy to entertain them whilst lightening their wallets. Once in a while, as a special treat, I like to dip my toe into their rarefied waters…

This week I was astonished by the menu at TWG, a very upmarket local chain whose menu of tasting notes was as thick as September Vogue. Don’t expect immediate service here, because they need to give you at least 20 minutes to flip through the choices on offer.

There are literally hundreds of different blends, sourced from around the world, served in a myriad different ways, which makes deciding what to pick a problem. I’d suggest you start by looking at the prices…

Amongst such delights as Tea Mocktails (which include such items as sparkling white wine with pink flamingo tea), and Tea Milkshake (choose between tea ice cream or tea sorbet with that), are the likes of Weekend in Singapore tea, (embellished with tart red fruits, a fragrant hint of anise and notes of sweet caramel, ‘a tribute to the garden city’), and Singapore Surprise tea, (a twist on the café’s signature dessert of crème brulée with strawberries on a tea infused crust).

Most of those are a fairly reasonable – under the circumstances – S$16 or thereabouts.

But look more closely at the menu. You can also have a pot of Yellow Gold tea buds, each bud ‘lavished’ in 24 carat gold to give a metallic and floral aftertaste. According to the menu, this one was a favourite of Chinese Emperors, who, as this costs S$105 a pot, were presumably the only ones who could afford it.

The most expensive, however, is the Imperial Gyokuro tea, from the tea plantations of Asahiro. Apparently only 3 kilos of this tea exist in the world and it has never before been available outside Japan. It is grown under hand woven rice mats which somehow help the bright green leaves absorb precious minerals and concentrate its sweet flavour. A snip, at just under S$230 a pot.

And no, of course I didn’t! An S$11 pot of Kathmandu Hill blend was nice enough for me…

24 Carat Brownie

Category : Food

24 carat brownie

This one stopped me in my tracks as I was passing through the Paragon in Singapore. It’s a brownie, but coated with edible gold dust, and it twinkled tantalisingly under the lights of Chalk Farm cake stall. At only S$5 for a generous slice (S$60 for an entire cake if you wanted a special – birthday? – treat) I could not resist. Often, the prettiest cakes are all about the looks and not the taste, but not in this case. The brownie itself was dense, delicious and rich with dark chocolate. No annoying walnut bits to break your teeth on, either. It is only a matter of time before I am back for more…