There is something so intriguing about recipes that have been used for centuries and passed down by oral tradition and folktales.  Below is one of my favorite herbal recipes with legend deeply rooted in folklore.  Not only does it have an interesting history, but the medicinal and cosmetic properties of this formula make it useful in our modern world.

There is much debate over the history of this ancient recipe.  Some say that it was created for the aging Queen of Hungary by an alchemist in the 1300’s to restore her youthfulness. According to the legend, it reversed her appearance so much that the 25 year old grand-duke of Lithuania asked for her hand in marriage when she was 70! Others believe that the recipe was formulated and marketed by early Gypsies as a cure-all for a myriad of cosmetic and medical uses.

Although the true origin of this recipe is a mystery, there is no doubt that Queen of Hungary’s Water is a wonderful astringent for all skin types and is especially beneficial for oily or acne prone skin. It gently tones, tightens pores, soothes itchy skin, normalizes the skin’s pH, and is a superb hair rinse. There are numerous variations of the recipe. I based my version on Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe, but please feel free to adjust it as you like to create your own.

• 5 parts fresh or dried organic Lemon Balm
• 5 parts fresh or dried organic Lavender
• 4 parts fresh or dried organic Chamomile
• 4 parts fresh or dried organic Roses
• 4 parts fresh or dried organic Calendula
• 3 parts fresh or dried organic Comfrey leaf
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Lemon Peel
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Rosemary
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Sage
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Peppermint
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Elder flowers
• 1 part fresh or dried organic Helichrysum flowers
• Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Combine all herbs in a glass mason jar and add vinegar until the liquid rises above the herbs by at least 1 or 2 inches. As the herbs swell, add additional vinegar if needed.  Cap the jar tightly and shake once or more per day. After 2-6 weeks, strain out the herbs and reserve the liquid.

The infused vinegar can either be used alone or combined with Rose hydrosol and a few drops of Lavender essential oil for an especially lovely facial toner.

If desired, use vodka instead of Apple Cider Vinegar to create a body splash or perfume rather than a facial toner.  Or, you can use Witch Hazel extract in place of the vinegar if you prefer a facial toner without the vinegary scent.