How to make the Queen of Hungary’s Water (an all-natural ancient beauty tonic) from common garden herbs.
The legend goes that this water was made for Queen Elisabeth of Hungary (1305-1380), but there are some conflicting facts and legends about the exact date of invention, and even conflicts about whom the potion was originally made for.
For longevity, youthful appearance and to ward off illness, one was supposed to drink the tonic, rub it on skin, bathe in it and inhale it.
Rosemary is rich in volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids, which are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Queen of Hungary water was brought over to England in the late 17th century, but by mid-eighteenth century, it had been renamed to ‘spirit of rosemary.’
Who precisely invented it is also not certain. It is very unlikely that it was an invention of a queen herself. In one texts, a quote says that queen got a recipe from a hermit she never saw before and that she was promised that it will restore her youth and preserve it “until her death”. Other story is that it was made by Gypsies and sold as a panacea that cured headache and other ailments and could be used as perfume, aftershave, mouthwash and foot bath. French Charles V le Sage who ruled as King of France in 14th century was the first foreigner to receive “Hungary water” and he got it in 1370.
Since then Hungary water (or “the Queen of Hungary’s Water”) was very popular perfume. Many wrote texts about it and tried to record recipes for it seems that, again, no one can agree what ingredients for Hungary water should be. One recipe calls for “aqua vitae” (concentrated aqueous solution of ethanol) to be distilled four times. 3 parts of this should be mixed with 2 parts of tops and flowers of rosemary, warmed for 50 hours and distilled. This mixture was taken once a week with food and limbs were washed with it. Other text says that this perfume was made of rosemary, orange, mint, and orange flower water. Some other added lavender. There are recipes that use lemon balm, lemon peel, chamomile, rosemary, calendula, roses, sage, vinegar and witch hazel extract. Other variants called for grape spirit and “esprit de rose”. It was applied to the handkerchief and used for refreshment but also as a face wash or as an addition to bath water.
• 5 parts fresh or dried Lemon Balm
• 5 parts fresh or dried Lavender
• 4 parts fresh or dried Chamomile
• 4 parts fresh or dried Roses or Rose hips.
• 4 parts fresh or dried Calendula
• 3 parts fresh or dried Comfrey leaf
• 1 part fresh or dried Lemon Peel
• 1 part fresh or dried Rosemary
• 1 part fresh or dried Sage
• 1 part fresh or dried Peppermint
• 1 part fresh or dried Elder flowers
• 1 part fresh or dried Helichrysum flowers
• Organic Apple Cider Vinegar or organic Witch Hazel Extract
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.
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 it without the vinegary scent.
The Queen of Hungary’s Water is reputed to last forever, provided it is kept in a cool dark place, can be used daily in undiluted form, and apparently has the potential to banish unsightly marks on the face, neck and hands, heal dry skin, assist in the management of dry scalp and prevent halitosis.
Whether it does or it doesn’t, treat yourself to the goodness of these simple and gentle herbs.