Have you ever had a tea party for your feet? It might sound silly, but there really is nothing nicer! My mother started the tradition of foot baths in our family when I was a young girl. They were considered a soothing treat and were often followed by a nice foot massage. It was something our family enjoyed on Friday nights after a long, busy week. A hot foot bath, a foot massage, and cups of warm tisane were a great way to unwind and relax. Mother also used foot baths therapeutically when someone in the family was sick. Hot and cold foot baths were alternated to relieve head and chest congestion. It was thought that the additional circulation sped up the healing process. A hot and cold foot bath involved a large basin or bucket that was placed on a towel on the floor. The water level started low in the bucket with comfortably warm water. A tea kettle simmered on the stove top and as the water in the bucket cooled, hot water from the kettle replenished the water supply in the bucket. Over time, as the feet adjusted to the hot water, more tolerance could be endured and the water in the bucket went from warm to hot. Sometimes Epsom salts or essential oils were added to the hot water to enhance the experience. More often dried herbs, dried petals, powdered milk, or baking soda was added in a little muslin bag, creating a foot bath tea that was milky and soothing. The longer the soak, the greater the benefit. River rocks or marbles added to the bottom of the bucket added texture and an easy massage as the feet were rubbed back and forth against them. After 20 or 30 minutes, mother would insist that it was healthiest if we cooled our feet down quickly by a brisk, cold dash in another basin of water. Often it contained ice! Sister and I thought it was torture, but it did feel wonderful afterwards. Once done, a dry, fluffy towel was used to dry the entire foot, including spaces between the toes. Then, a fragrant, botanical lotion massaged on the feet created a little bit of heaven! There's nothing like a foot bath tea party for your feet!
Nowadays the foot bath is a rare occurrence. Maybe life is too busy? Or maybe it's that I've discovered how easy and pleasant it is to get a pedicure in town, complete with jets, hot water, and gentle massage. The principle is the same.
Would you like a recipe for a stimulating foot bath tea? Here's one that I enjoy that I call Minty Foot Soak.
A basin or bucket of very warm water
12 drops of peppermint pure essential oils
1/4 cup of fresh mint leaves from the garden (or 1/8 cup dried peppermint tea, bulk)
1/4 cup Epsom salts
1 cup brewed green tea
The mint leaves can be placed in a tea sac or muslin bag if you wish, although I don't mind if they float around in the bath. The peppermint is stimulating and aids the circulation. And the menthol in the mint reduces muscle pain. Green tea has antioxidant qualities that absorb through the skin.
Soak for 20 - 30 minutes, adding hot water as needed.
Follow with a quick dash of ice cold water and dry feet well.