Chapter 452 - Flower Tea and Skin Cosmetics

However, which woman didn't like to be beautiful? This year, Lady Fang was nearing forty years of age. When Lady Fang came to the Imperial Palace to greet her, the older woman’s skin and complexion was even better than her own. It was hard for the empress not to sigh over this. Lady Fang was also perceptive and had brought a box of peach blossom tea that her goddaughter had made and given it to her.

After drinking this peach blossom tea, she discovered that it truly had an effect on her skin. The dark spots that had been left on her face after her pregnancy with her imperial son had lightened considerably. After putting on some powder on her face, they weren't visible anymore. Furthermore, when she was pregnant, she started to have constipation issues. This was a rather private issue for her, so she was ashamed to ask the imperial physicians to take a look at her. Unfortunately, it caused a lot of trouble for her. However, after drinking this peach blossom tea, her constipation had completely disappeared and she no longer had this problem!

Less than half a year had passed since she started drinking the tea. If she continued to consume this tea, she was certain that her skin would become much better than Lady Fang's. After all, she was younger than the other woman by almost a decade!

 Lady Fang had also mentioned that this peach blossom tea recipe was something that her goddaughter had come up with when there was nothing better for her to do. Thus, was the so-called medicine that was able to give back youth and reverse aging actually this peach blossom tea? Then what was the point in her asking the emperor about this youth medication in such an impatient way? As long as Lady Fang had access to this peach blossom tea, she, as the empress, would naturally have access too.

She was quite aware of the value of this recipe that could improve one’s looks and complexion. However, as the high-and-mighty empress, the emperor's private purse (and warehouse) was under her management. Since the sales of the greenhouse grown vegetables had been blazingly popular, the emperor's private purse had become fuller with every passing day. Basically, this meant that the amount of money in her hands was also growing with every day. Was she really going to do such a shameful thing as fighting with her own official to snatch a recipe? Furthermore, this particular official was currently regarded with great importance by the emperor and had also saved her imperial son's life.

After thinking this far, the empress spoke to the emperor in a somewhat worried tone, “If this so-called youth regaining medicine does not exist, then what are the ulterior motives of the people spreading these rumors? Just how much do these people hate Yu Xiaocao to cause so much trouble for her?”

Even as the empress she could not resist the lure of this youth regaining medicine, so what did that mean for other people? Yu Xiaocao was only a tiny sixth-level agricultural official. She didn't have much foundation or backing in the capital and only had her godfather, who was only a third-level military official without much power. There were so many powerful and wealthy officials in the capital who could easily squash General Fang with no problems! If these people decided to move, then this lass would be in incredible danger!

Zhu Junfan had already investigated the source of these rumors as soon as the news came out. The secret guards under the lead of Chief Steward Su were not there for show. Su Ran also had a soft spot in his heart for this little lass. Thus, in regards to this little girl's affairs, as soon as something appeared, he was sensitive to it and made sure to investigate it thoroughly.

“Merely a small clown who is jealous of the little lass’s abilities!”  Zhu Junfan was not impressed with Assistant Minister Li’s ability to manage and educate his children. He even now regarded the assistant minister himself with a bit of disgust. Thus, he directly stripped the man’s assistant minister title from the Ministry of Appointments, which was a very lucrative position, and gave him the title of the Minister of Imperial Stud. Although they were both third-ranked official positions, how could being an official in charge of horses compare to being an official in the Ministry of Appointments? This was all in the future though.

For the sake of his younger cousin, Zhu Junfan needed to keep a closer eye on his cousin’s sweetheart. Furthermore, from her contributions at the Imperial Plantations alone, he needed to make sure to protect this farming expert well! 

“Fei’er, on another day, you should invite the little lass to the Imperial Palace and ask if she has any plans on opening a flower tea store. If people are able to buy the flower teas that can improve their appearances and nourish their bodies, then there wouldn't be such a fuss over all of this! Su Ran, you'll need to work a bit to suppress all of these rumors about the so-called youth renewal medication! Change the rumors such that the so-called youth renewal medication is only something that can slow down aging and improve the physical appearance of people. At the start of spring, this flower tea store will be open on the market! Empress, you should collaborate with her and receive 10% of the profits from the store!” Zhu Junfan believed that he was a good emperor as he had eliminated a lot of obstacles for his own official.

Su Ran was surprised for a moment and then immediately replied, “Yes, this subordinate will go do this now!”

The empress waited until Su Ran had left the room and then gave the emperor a chiding look, “Miss Yu was the one who invented the recipe for peach blossom tea. If she opens a store to sell this tea and I just get 10% of the profits for doing nothing, how is that appropriate?” 

“How is it not appropriate? If you don't get involved in this business, then there will still be people who want to get a bite of this rich piece of meat! It’s not as if you’ll be doing nothing. By involving yourself, you're protecting her from other people who want to swoop and steal her work! Think of all of the trouble you’re saving her from!” Zhu Junfan stated this in a matter-of-fact manner.

The empress finally understood his reasoning and lightly chuckled, “Imperial Majesty, you are truly someone who appreciates the talented as you are protecting Miss Yu. I just don't know whether or not she appreciates the amount of care you put into her.”

Zhu Junfan also smiled and said, “Don't underestimate this little lass; she's not a stupid person. The 10% cut that I mentioned is only a small number. She herself may offer a cut of the profits to you that's even higher!”

Many of the merchants in the capital, in order to avoid encountering a lot of trouble, did their best to find a sponsor for their businesses. With someone powerful behind them, they could do their businesses without any worries of outside interference. In the capital, if you didn't have a powerful backer, it was hard to do anything. Let alone the empress, there were plenty of second-ranked and third-ranked officials who took thirty to forty percent of the business’s profits in order to be their sponsor.

Before long, another set of rumors spread throughout the capital. It was said that little Official Yu didn't have a youth regaining medicine recipe on her hands. In fact, she had inadvertently offended someone and that person was deliberately spreading malicious rumors about her. If she truly had such a recipe on her hands, then why didn't she use it on her own family?

Originally, only a very small group of muddle-headed people believed that there truly was a youth regaining medicine recipe. The vast majority of people in the capital only half believed what was being transmitted. Naturally, there are also people who vehemently refused to believe that this was true! When the second set of rumors came out, it gave most of these people a believable explanation for what was going on. There was still a group of people who harbored ulterior motives that decided to wait and see what would happen next.

Another two days passed and more news came out that little Official Yu had been invited into the palace to see the empress. News quickly disseminated from the palace. They said that the empress had rewarded Official Yu heavily for creating this peach blossom tea. The empress also stated that this tea was so beneficial to women that it really should be placed on the market and sold through the capital. She had also asked Official Yu whether she was planning on opening a flower tea store to sell this. Little Official Yu readily agreed to this proposal and decided to collaborate with the empress.

Naturally, with the empress as her backer, Yu Xiaocao would be an imbecile if she didn't open this flower tea store! She was someone who loved to make money, so how could she possibly let go of this perfect opportunity? In fact, she didn't even have to worry about obtaining a good location for the store. The empress herself had already prepared everything. Furthermore, even the employees of the store had already been picked by the empress. These people were all maids from the Imperial Palace who had been sent out, so she didn't even have to train them before they could be employed.

When this news came out, the people who had ulterior motives immediately stopped their plans in their tracks. If the emperor himself hadn’t approved of this collaboration, then how could the empress, who was someone who liked to keep to herself, start to work with Official Yu and open up a store jointly to sell flower tea?

Official Yu’s peach blossom tea recipe had already caught the eye of the emperor. Who was stupid enough to try to steal something from the emperor? Did they want to lose their heads?

When the noble matrons of the capital found out this news, even the most aloof person became gleeful and ecstatic. They only had to look at Lady Fang to see the effects of the peach blossom tea. Prior to drinking the peach blossom tea, her skin was sallow and had spots of discoloration all over. She had a bloated figure and there were fine wrinkles around the corners of her eyes. When she came out with her son in her arms, if no one knew the truth, they would have thought that she was holding her own grandson!

But what about now? Didn't she seem to return to her youth again? She was in her forties but looked like she was barely in her thirties. Her skin no longer had any unsightly discolorations on it and she glowed with the blush of youth. Her figure had also become more graceful and delicate than it was when she was young. When she stood next to the other matrons around her age, she made them all look like dried-up old sticks.

Furthermore, the empress herself had drunk the peach blossom tea that Lady Fang had given her. Now, her skin glowed with health and it looked as if her skin quality was about the same as when she was a young maiden. 

Which woman in the world did not want to be beautiful? Which young maiden in the world did not want to become more alluring? The effects of the peach blossom tea were obvious. Unfortunately, there was none to be had on the market. If it was available, they wouldn’t care even if the price was sky high. They would still squabble to buy some!

In the past, people who had ignored Lady Fang now did their best to make connections with her. They all wanted to see if they could use their connections with her to get their hands on some peach blossom tea. However, other than giving a box to the empress herself, Lady Fang didn't have much tea at home. She wasn't even sure if she could drink a whole year's worth before it was gone. Thus, how could she possibly give some to other people? At most, if you came over for a visit, she might give you a cup of tea to drink. That was already considered very welcoming. Because of this, Lady Fang’s status and position in the capital had also increased sharply.

Now it was different. The empress had finally opened the market for the good of the people. She had Lady Fang's goddaughter bring out the tea to sell. Even if the sales were rationed, similar to the fruits and vegetables on the market, it still meant that people had an opportunity to buy some! This was still better than what it was like now, where they had to use their connections with Lady Fang to see if they could possibly get something out of her.

Yu Xiaocao didn't care what other people thought or felt at this point. As soon as she got back from the palace, she ran into her little study in her own courtyard and only allowed Hechun at her side to help her. Everyone else was prohibited from entering. She was busy recalling all of the recipes that she knew about flower teas and organizing them in a methodical manner.

She was planning on not only selling flower teas at the shop but also making a set of cosmetic products to sell at the store as well. Women who wanted to improve their appearances needed to use both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ methods. It was definitely important to consume nourishing items but they also should not neglect using external cosmetics to help the process along!

She was planning on handing the management of the ‘Nourishing Skin Beauty’ shop to Hechun in the future. This maid was very interested in making cosmetics and also had some talent in this area as well. For example, after only getting a few tips from Xiaocao, Hechun was able to make handmade soap that came to about 80 to 90 percent of what Xiaocao was looking for.

The upgraded handmade soap had only been sent to Royal Princess Minglan and the ‘two beauties of the capital’. They had already sent back their initial impressions. The effect of these handmade soaps was quite obvious. Although they hadn’t been using the soaps for very long, they felt like their skin no longer felt as dry after washing during this early winter season. Furthermore, the smell of the handmade soap was very light and fragrant. Compared to Full Spring Fragrance’s soap, which had a very dense and heavy perfume, these soaps smelled a lot more pleasing and natural.

However, Yu Xiaocao actually wasn’t very good at coming up and making new cosmetic products. If she only relied on the mystic-stone water for the effect on her products, that wouldn’t be good for the long-term longevity for this line of business.

She vaguely recalled that when she attended the flower war banquet she had heard that one of the concubine born daughters from a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Ceremonies was obsessed with making new blushes and powders. Furthermore, the products she made worked very well. In addition, one of the ‘two beauties of the capital’, Yuan Xueyan, also liked to create new products whenever she had time. Two heads were better than one. Perhaps they could come up with products that could rival the popularity and fame of Full Spring Fragrance!

As of right now, she needed to wait a bit on the flower teas. After all, this was early winter, and most flowers were all withered and dead on the ground. There was no way for her to get any ingredients even if she wanted to. Once spring started, there were a lot of flowers to be found on the hills at the Imperial Plantation. For example, there were jasmine flowers, chrysanthemum flowers, and other early spring blooming flowers. She wasn't sure if roses were available in this time period. On another day, when she saw Royal Prince Yang, she could ask him. Roses were also quite efficacious when made into flower teas. 

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s thoughts: The imperial family is going to get more rich courtesy of Xiaocao!

Translator: Sanguine