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Byline: WITH CATHY MAYER

IT may not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but more and more people are starting to add a cuppa to their daily beauty routine. From face masks to foot scrubs, sales of green tea products are booming. Julia Roberts and Alanis Morissette are fans, while top names in the world of beauty including Lancome and Wella are using them in their ranges.

But make no mistake, this is not a fad. The stars are only discovering what the Chinese have known for centuries - that tea is good for your health, and not just in its liquid form.

Tea contains antioxidants, which increase blood flow and protect the skin from atmospheric pollutants, contributing to a healthy and glowing complexion. And green tea, which is extracted from the leaves of the camellia sinesis tree, is thought to slow down the ageing process and can also protect against cancer.

It certainly seemed to work for Shen-Nung, the legendary Chinese emperor known as the Great Healer, who discovered the healing properties of green tea in 2737 BC. He extolled its virtues with such success that it was soon being used across his empire as both beverage and beauty pr oduct.

But despite green tea's long and exotic history, it is very easy to pick up products containing this natural cure-all on your local high street.

If you're curious to see what green tea can do for you but don't want to break the bank, why not try the Christy Timeless Face Mask, pounds 1.15. This self-heating, anti-ageing face mask contains both green tea and jojoba for a fresh and floral fragrance.

Christy also produce a Sole Mates Green Tea and Lime Crushed Salt Scrub, pounds 2.99, which is guaranteed to soothe away aches and pains at the end of a tough day.

For a head-to-toe green tea treatment, Te Tao's Tea for Body range also looks tantalising. Both the Herbal Tea Bar, pounds 3.95, and Chinese Angelica and Green Tea Body Wash, pounds 3.79, promise to cleanse and rejuvenate with an aromatic assault on dehydrated skin. And for a touch of extra glamour, spray on Te Tao's Nine Oil Moisture Mist, pounds 3.95, which contains green tea, lotus flower, avocado and apricot oils, to nourish your body and add a shimmer to your skin.

Hair and beauty products company Wella are so keen on the healing powers of green tea that they have developed a whole range around it. The Back to Basics Green Tea range features everything from shampoo, pounds 5.95, to serum, pounds 5.50, bath salts, pounds 8.75, and conditioning balm, pounds 6.30.

There are a total of 14 items in the range, more than enough to satisfy even the most fanatical of green tea devotees.

If you fancy a more extravagant tea-based treat, try Skin Comfort from Cosmetics a la Carte, pounds 20, available by mail order from 020 7622 2318. This cream can be used to plump up delicate areas including the lips and neck and includes a carefully selected range of natural oils, including echinacea.

And Dermalogica's MultiVitamin Power Firm For Eye & Lip Area, pounds 26, contains green tea, as well as liquorice and chamomile to help soothe any inflammation and protect the delicate skin area. For stockist information contact 0800 591 818.

At the top end of the green tea price scale is the Lancome Aroma Tonic range. Selected products in this range use green tea as part of a holistic approach to beauty. Use the Aroma Tonic Energising Body Oil, pounds 25, as either a bath or a massage oil with a relaxing scent to calm you after even the most stressful day.

As well as green tea, this sophisticated concoction includes extracts of ginger, apricot and macademia, leaving you looking fantastic and lifting your spirits in one go.

For the ultimate luxury in tea, pick up products made with white tea, another super-antioxidant, said to be 100 times more powerful than the green variety. Origins A Perfect World White Tea range, from pounds 20, call 0800 731 4039 for stockist information.

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STRANGE BREW: Wella green tea shower gel and body lotion.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 8, 2002
Words:701
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