Kings Road Apothecary Herbal Subscription Unboxing & Review-September 2015 (Pinon & Sagebrush)
King’s Road Apothecary is a company owned by herbalist Rebecca Altman. In addition to selling handcrafted seasonal herbal products through her site, Rebecca offers a monthly indie subscription service. Each monthly box features four herbally-based, small-batch, handcrafted items that center around a theme. Box pricing is $53.50 plus shipping each month when ordered individually, but multi-month subscriptions include shipping. The September theme was “Pinon and Sagebrush.” As of this writing, the September box is still available for purchase. To see my other Kings Road Apothecary unboxing and reviews from prior months, look here.
I purchased this box and received no compensation for my review. All opinions are my own.
Please enjoy the complete unboxing video. If you want to better acquaint yourself with some of the herbalism terms that I use throughout the video you can do that through the Crunchy Parent Herbal 101: Glossary of Common and Unusual Herbalism Terms and 50+ Great Ideas for Using Herbs. If you just want to see closeup photos of what was in the box, scroll on down.
The idea behind the KRA Surprise Boxes is that each month Rebecca picks the theme for the box, gathers plant material local to her that fits with the theme, and takes the month to reflect on the plants and experiment with new recipes for products. Her four favorites end up in the box. I was very excited for this month’s box as I absolutely adore the rich scent of piñon pines and find the varieties of sage native to the Southwest to smell rich and fabulous. I was looking forward to seeing what Rebecca would create this month and to receiving the goodies.
The box came with the entire contents wrapped in a piece of muslin, hand dyed in beautiful shades of green. All items were carefully protected with bubble wrap, individually wrapped in coordinated tissue paper, and tied with kitchen twine. In addition to the four herbal items, the box also came with a copy of a watercolor painting of spring of sage and pine as well as pine and piñon cones penned by Rebecca exclusively for this box. On the back of the drawing were recipes for pine nut roca and for pine infused sugar. I love the flavor of flowers, herbs, and other botanicals in edibles, so I am happy to have these recipes to try. The roca calls for butter, but I think that I can make it with a simple substitution of either coconut oil or palm oil shortening. i think that pine infused sugar would be amazing with baked goods in fall and winter and I also think that it would make a unique holiday or hostess gift. In addition to the above, the box included a letter from Rebecca describing the box contents.
The first item that I pulled from the box was a bag of Pinon Nut and Vanilla Black Tea, which is the same as the Pinon Toffee Black Tea listed on the KRA site, now sold out (approximately 1.5 oz oz.). The blend mixes black tea, oolong tea and puerh tea, along with with cacao, cardamom, vanilla, piñon cone, and roasted wild pine nuts, and then studs the whole mix with chunks of piñon toffee. The toffee in the tea is the same as the roca recipe included although the rock also adds chocolate. I am a big tea drinker, although I generally stick to herbal and other non-caffeinated teas. Receiving the KRA blends has nudged me to try some different teas and so far I have not responded with jitters or sleep disruption at all, so I’m happy. I made the tea with a bit of honey and a dollop of coconut milk cream. I was warming and gently spiced, and as I got closer to the bottom of the cup, I found myself getting a bit sad that I had drank it up so quickly. Fortunately there will be several more cups in my future with what was provided in the box. The tea gave me a very “autumn” feeling. I can see craving a cup of it after tromping around outside in the crisp air and fallen leaves.
Next in the box was a 2 oz. glass jar of Pinon and Juniper Foot Balm, which was available exclusively through the subscription box. The balm infuses piñon needles and resin, juniper berries and branches, and sagebrush leaves into a blend of organic sunflower, jojoba, coconut, and avocado oils. This mixture is enhanced with a mix of essential oils and stabilized with organic beeswax to produce the lightweight balm. The instructions suggest applying the balm to clean feet before bed and then wearing socks while you sleep to help the balm infuse into, and soften your skin. The balm does feel exceptionally light and softening. When I applied the balm to my skin, it felt silkier and softer almost instantly. The foot balm is also one of the best things that I have ever smelled. The fragrance is intense and very natural all at the same time, due no doubt to the layering of the infusion of fresh berries, branches, needles, and resin as well as essential oils into the blend. Closing my eyes and smelling the balm immediately transported me to a pine forest.
The next product discovery was a 1 oz. bottle of Pinon and Juniper Sagebrush Room Spray (value $10.00). This spray is a mix of pine and juniper hydrosols with pine resin and essential oils of pine, juniper, and sage. Rebecca created this blend to evoke the scent of the Pinon flats; the mix of plants and trees, fresh air, and sunshine. The spray has a “greener” scent than the foot balm, reminding me more of green pine needles and less of the earthier barks and resins brought through in the balm. Rebecca suggests using the spray to freshen a room, especially if someone is sick, as it can be helpful in killing airborne microbes.
The final item was a 1 oz. bottle of Pinon Flat Elixir, exclusive to the box. The multi-purpose elixir can be used medicinally to help with lung congestion or tightness or in smaller amounts as digestive bitters or to flavor cocktails. The blend of pine cones, needles, resin, and nuts along with sage, yarrow, mullein, and aralia (spikenard) tasted fresh, earthy, and very pleasant to me. I found it to be grounding, but others may experience it differently.
I greatly enjoy my Kings Road Apothecary boxes. They are a splurge relative to the typical monthly subscription box, but they are in a class of their own in terms of the freshness, seasonal appropriateness and relationship to herbal plant ingredients. I appreciate that someone across the country is out gathering plants that are not available in my region, and is working with them as I would to create incredible products far beyond what I have the knowledge or experience to create on my own. The products and recipes inspire me to work more directly with plants when I can get ahold of fresh plant materials, and to seek opportunities to learn more about medicinal plants and their many uses. It is difficult for me to assign values to the individual items in the boxes because they are often unique items that are exclusive to the box or the size of the product sold on the site is not listed so I cannot estimate the value of the sizes received. Nevertheless, this box feels very luxurious to me; handcrafted products that are created exclusively for a small group of subscribers with wildcrafted ingredients at their peak. I don’t think that I could want for better.
As mentioned above, this box is currently available for purchase if you want to capture this celebration of Pinon and Sagebrush before it is gone. The October box will focus on four plants, palo santo, cacao, hawthorn, and kava kava. It is designed especially, “the dream weavers, the witches, the makers, the edgewalkers,” and sounds rather magical to me. I notice that the October single box price is listed at $54.00, which is a 50 cent increase over the September box. Among the four herbal products included in the box may be any of the following, or other inspired creations: palo santo, sandalwood and kava infused cocoa body butter; smoked kava hot chocolate; cacao and hawthorn spiced syrup; kava, hawthorn and palo santo between the worlds elixir; kava, cacao and palo santo massage oil; palo santo and cacao ritual incense; smoked kava kava and palo santo ritual bath; hawthorn and cacao bitters; palo santo and cacao shimmering body oil (a deep bronze shimmer that looks like autumn leaves).
As a reminder the KRA boxes are made using wild crafted ingredients. In an effort to support plant sustainability in harvesting, only a limited number of boxes are available each month. Are you going to snap up one of the remaining September boxes? I’m tempted just to have another jar of the incredible foot balm. Is the October box calling to you?
If you would like to see my most recent comprehensive listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe!by