One of my favorite things, as Julie Andrews crooned, are brown paper packages tied up with string and, here at TIA, there is rarely a day that denies us the anticipation of opening goodies that have arrived in the mail. The other day, I slit the tape of a medium sized box and plunged my hands in packaging peanuts until I was almost elbow deep. My fingers searched for a tube, tub or bottle as peanuts flew. Nothing. Finally, I grasped a small pot. And when I say small, I mean Lilliputian. And I had paid $16 for it!

The $16 pot of Mini (you can say that again) Moa The Green Balm is a good deal smaller than most free samples. It isn't much bigger than a quarter and its overall circumference is smaller than a medium sized egg (pictured above for anyone who has difficulty summoning mental images of Liliputian cosmetics).

Still size isn't everything. Perhaps Moa The Green Balm is a precious little gem. And it is, after all, supposed to be one of Iceland's best kept secrets. The Moa website says: "Móa balm is lovingly made by hand in small batches of just 8 kilos by Thury and her family within the heart of Iceland, using hand picked, wild herbs and all natural ingredients ensuring the foremost quality in each and every pot." I suppose I hadn't realized how literally one should take the words "small batches".

Moa comes with a heart-rending origination myth. The above-mentioned Thury would, as a child, watch her 90-year-old wrinkleless grandmother boiling up herbs on the kitchen stove. Later the adult Thury would apply the balm to the third degree burns all over her son's body and face. Moa is named after the 'wise woman who understands the power of the moors'.

Moa points out that these herbs are, as a result of Iceland's frigid climate, slow-growing 'super herbs'. Now Iceland, as we know, is home to hot geysers that provide energy to heat homes and greenhouses that miraculously produce non-indiginous plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers. However, this horticultural expertise has never, as far as I know, resulted in coconut palm groves on the frozen wastes. Coconut palm oil is the dominant ingredient used by Thury and family. Next up is prunus amygdalus. The almond tree is native to the middle east, although I believe it has been propagated as far north as Germany.

Still trying to find an Icelandic super herb, I skimmed past soya bean oil and cera alba (wax) and alighted on achillea millefolium. This is yarrow and, with its tiny white flowers, would surely be at home on the moors during Iceland's all too brief spring. And I am pleased to report that it is a flora that is common to Iceland. Not so, however, for melaleuca alternifolia, which is tea-tree and indiginous to Australia.

The best that can be said about my experience with Moa is that my $16 may have done its little bit to prop up Iceland's bankrupt economy

Ingredients in Moa The Green Balm:

Cocos Nucifera Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Glycine Soya Oil, Cera Alba, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Acqua, Melaleuca Alternifolia, Limonene