Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea

Like an emerald jewel Jasmine Tea perfume is deep green and sweet.
Although Jasmine flowers and Green Tea are themed in this perfume, it is not quite as dry or floral as you would expect a Jasmine Tea to be – but indeed quite edible!
Instead, it is like an earthy-herbal candied celebration of greenery.
Blood orange opens the almost-culinary experience  with fruity freshness, along with beautifully balanced floral heart of rich and full bodied jasmine (both Sambac and Grandiflorum) tea-like Osmanthus, and the sweetness of Rose and Rosemary absolute.
The underlining base accord of Green Tea, Cedar Absolute and Fir Absolute along with the citrus and floral bouquet creates a sweet and earthy impression that is both warm and vibrant.

The talented Lisa Fong from Artemisia Perfumes have created this perfume solely from natural essences. Lisa Fong’s style is that of refined elegance, which brings to mind Jo Malone’s perfumery, which emphasizes the individual ingredients. However, I do find these perfumes to possess a far greater depth and originality.
Of all her creations, Jasmine Tea is the sweetest – though not in the least cloying. It is an original and uplifting Gourmand.
Artemisia's other fragrances can be found at artemisiaperfume.com

Top notes:  Blood orange, Rosewood
Heart notes: Jasmine Grandiflorum, Jasmine Sambac, Osmanthus, Rose, Rosemary Absolute
Base notes: Green Tea Absolute, Cedar Absolute, Fir Absolute

Saveur de l'Abricot

Osmanthus meets goats and apricot schnapps in Artemisia's Saveur de l’Abricot. It opens with a burst of citrus and freshly-split apricot, stimulating the palate with its smooth ripe flavour. And flavour, though most don’t know it - is defined as the combination of taste, aroma (scent) and texture. Saveur de l’Abricot is mostly about the texture, and both the apricot image and ad copy on the Artemisia website are very accurate:
“Picture plucking a ripe apricot from the tree and taking a bite. Feel the velvety, golden skin on your lips. Taste the juicy tang of the flesh on your tongue. Multiple layers of ambrosial sweetness explode with earthy voluptuousness and piquant twist."

What I find most intriguing about Saveur de l’Abricot is the surprising element - the musky animalic undertones, reminiscent of herding goats and sheepskins that lurk underneath. Black current buds fruity yet animalic note also contribute to that effect (some compare it to cat-pee... I'm not one of them but I do agree it is a rather funky note when it stands alone). Seville lavender is another component - which brings to mind garrigue and the goats herding among them. Lavender absolue has more coumarin content, and also a certain velvety texture that is reminiscent of apricots, though the scent is more often compared to ripe raspberries. This adds to the overall textural theme, and brings not only sensuousness, but also a smile -
It's an aprigoat!

Top notes: Blood orange, Apricot notes
Heart notes: Osmanthus, Seville Lavender Absolute
Base notes:
Black Currant Buds, Goat & Musk notes

Osmanthus Conversation with Perfumer Lisa Fong

Lisa Fong - Artemisia Perfume

For the third (and perhaps not quite the last...) conversation about osmanthus I invited Lisa Fong of Artemisia Natural Perfume to discuss osmanthus from her unique experience of synesthesia of sounds, textures and colours and her creative process - starting from inspiration through raw material selections, to choosing the name.
Please note: this conversation took place before the 2nd Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco.
Ayala Moriel/SmellyBlog: How would you describe the scent of osmanthus?

Lisa Fong/Artemisia Perfume: Osmanthus smells like cherry, sugar, honey, and roots.

AM: How fascinating to receive a completely different reaction from each perfumer in relation to the same scent. I've never heard anyone compare osmanthus to cherry or roots. Thank you for sharing!
Have you ever smelled the fresh flowers?

Lisa: No

Ayala: You should try to get in touch with Ineke (note to self: I should invite her to the Osmanthus Conversations!) and see if you can coordinate a visit to her lovely perfumed garden when the osmanthus is in bloom. That was the only time I smelled it in real life - there were only a couple of little clusters, but they smelled amazing! Quite different from the absolute - which I think is more smiler to the dry flowers.

Do you have any scent memories associated with osmanthus? Or memories that are triggered by this note?

Lisa: Cherry cough syrup from my childhood. I think it was called Chericol, and I loved it.

Ayala: What were the main challenges for you when incorporating this note into your perfumes?

Lisa: Osmanthus is a weak oil and gets drowned out easily. I had this problem so I used a lot of osmanthus and used some black current absolute in the base to bring out the fruity notes.

Ayala: That was my challenge with osmanthus as well - it feels as if the more you add, the less of it remains perceptible. I experience black currants as a top note though, with the characteristic sharp fruity edges wearing off very quickly.

Lisa: I thought black current bud was a basenote. I could be wrong, but I like it in this blend. It seems to help push the osmanthus.

Ayala: I think they are classified as such by Poucher - but find that even with volatility rates, the perfumer's perceptions vary - so I totally value your experience and perspective of it.  Have you noticed anything unusual about the behaviour of osmanthus in a blend?

Lisa: It is very complicated and it will tend to disappear.

Ayala: Your osmanthus perfume is themed around apricot, a fruit that often is used to describe the aroma of apricot. How much of the apricotiness is real, and how much is suggested by the name alone?

Lisa: For Saveur de l'Abricot, I used real, natural apricot essence. It was perfect with the osmanthus, which has a fruity quality, but also a sort of animalistic sense. I really like the fuzziness of the apricot and tried to bring that out by adding mango leaf essential oil.

Ayala: Was this an apricot extract, or an apricot specialty? (note to readers: specialty is a compounded accord that is designed to smell like notes that would be difficult to extract in other methods).

Lisa: I thought this was actually from the apricot,but after talking with Miriam of Robertet, I now think it is a blend of natural essences made to imitate apricot.

Ayala: While we're on the topic - what's in a name? What part does the naming play in your creative process?

Lisa: The name is the last and the hardest part for me. I never start with a concept, when I try it goes horribly wrong. I must stick to the scent itself and how I wish to develop it by adding other elements. When I finish, I try to write a description of the scent, and from that find a name that reflects what I think the scent is about. With Ondine, I felt the fragrance was watery and named it after the water nymph. Since then many people do not smell the water idea, but they like it anyway.

Ayala: To me Ondine is like warm water - like hot springs.
What an intricate process - it's almost as if you're going back and reflecting/assessing your creation in order to name it.
In your mind, what is the role of the name, then?

Lisa: I see the name as a way of summarizing the fragrance and what it is I tried to capture in formulating it. I find it is so hard to describe scent in words, it seems like an impossible task. The name is really important and I never know if I choose the right one.

Ayala: How does your background as a musician affect your style of composition?

Lisa: It has everything to do with my subconscious perception of the construction of the scent. Music is both intellectual and emotional. Since I have been a musician for most of my life, it is just a part of who I am. Order and logic are important, but I also like a bit of chaos and will toss in some strange ingredients to make the fragrance more interesting.

Ayala: Do you feel or refer to scents in terms of vibrational frequencies, such as sounds or colours?

Lisa: I always listen to music when I blend, and the music does influence the blend. I listened to Chopin when I made Eros. Now I'm listening to the Smiths, it will be interesting to see what I end up with. I've got some synesthesia and I associate scent with color and texture. For example, mango leaf smells green and fuzzy to me and frankincense seems sparkly with all the colors.

Ayala: What inspired you to create Saveur de l'Abricot? What's the story behind it?

Lisa: Well Ayala, remember when you and I visited Eden Botanicals in Petaluma, last July? They had the most gorgeous osmanthus I had ever smelled. We both bought some even though it was so expensive. I decided to make a perfume from it and when blended with the apricot essence, the idea was formulated.

Ayala: Of course I do! That's what got this whole osmanthus obsession started :-)
And since then I met a couple other perfumers and their osmanthus scents, which lead to a more elaborate series of conversations.
So - have you noticed a great deal of different between osmanthus essences from different sources? Do you have a favourite - and why?  

Lisa: Absolutely. I never cared for osmanthus because I had never smelled one I liked. The ones I had smelled like solvent, but the Eden Botanical osmanthus was a revelation.

Ayala: We're fortunate to have a quality osmanthus, and I hope it will be around for a while. It's so wonderful it feels like you just can't get enough… Almost addictive! And since then I've done a few osmanthus experimentations that worked much better than in the days when I was struggling to create Kinmokusei. Since I have the new absolute, I added carrot seed, tea rose and pomelo tincture, which greatly improved the fruity, effervescent quality of the flower.

Lisa: Your osmanthus blends sound fascinating, you always have such creative ideas. I would love to smell what you create.
Thanks for letting me discuss my fragrance. See you in a few weeks!

Ayala: More like a few days now! Looking forward to it. Thank you so much for sharing your insights on osmanthus and the creative process behind Saveur de l'Abricot!

Drifting Sparks on Fourth of July

drifting sparks by wrigglefish
drifting sparks, a photo by wrigglefish on Flickr.

I spent Fourth of July crossing the border from Canada to the USA and spent the night in Oakland with Lisa Fong and her family - a generous and quirky bunch, with whom I spent the next week with - a much needed distraction from being away from my own. It was especially fun to be in the USA for Fourth of July and see all the fireworks that the folks of Oakland set free into their urban skies, disregarding any logical safety rules or hazard precautions (unless you consider a bucket of water as a super-hero). The fireworks that were set ablaze on Arizona Street would have put the ones Vancouver's city hall funded for Canada Day in Coal Harbour. Only that there was no ocean underneath to put my mind at ease. It was a loud night and I sighed from relief when it was over and nothing catastrophic has happened...

But after this grand opening of dancing fires, it was a rather uneventful week in Oakland, which is exactly what we all needed with everything else that was buzzing around in the perfume world. We had a full weekend ahead of us. And I felt especially lucky to stay with such friendly souls; not to mention that I got to stay at Lisa's perfume room (!) where she keeps all her rare essences (Queen of the Night, Coffee Flower and Saffron where essences I didn't even know where available until I met her in Vancouver in 2006).

And of course that's where she concocts all her exotic harmonies from pure natural essences. Lisa's style always struck me as both very structured; yet at the same time complex, multi-layered and with a knack for obscure and unusual notes, which she weaves into her compositions and which give them an unusual edge.

One of the first things that Lisa let me smell this visit was her Drifting Sparks perfume. She told me how she created it (attempting to replicate true Tonquin musk - not an easy feat!) for the Mystery of Musk project a few years back. Once the perfume reached its desired muskiness, the problem of naming it arose. It was on a long road trip with her family that she had a vision of the musk deer sending invisible messages of desire to one another through their scents; and how they catch light like fireworks. And that's how the name revealed itself to her.

Drifting Sparks begins rather smoky and a tad pungent. I think the smokiness comes from Don quai - the medicinal Chinese angelica, which has especially musky notes, as I'm not detecting the distinctively green notes I get from the European angelica root. But there is also something very citrusy and vibrant above it all - a cheerful brightness that could only be orange blossom. Jasmine sambac also adds a luminosity, and than makes room for a clean, almost watery yet musky-sweet Himalayan cedarwood.

Jasmine sambac seems to persists through most of the perfume's evolution, weaving in and out as it dries down on the skin. Drifting Sparks is a fascinating study in musk; though I find it a bit too fleeting on my skin, almost too abstract for me to be able to comment enough about the final dry out - it melds with the skin so well that it's not easy to describe, but I'll try: clean woodsy note, that reminds me of the quieter varieties of oud, hints of patchouli, and honeyed sweetness as if my skin is covered with a thin layer of honey... The florals are never quite gone either - which is what I believe is the source of the nectar - final stages of rose absolute dry down, plus the greenish, honeyed twigs of bitter orange and flowers. The final dryout is invisible, almost - ambergris, saltiness on the skin, and nothing more... If anything, it reminds me of l'Antimatiere.

Overall, after knowing Lisa's work for several years now, her style seems to have changed quite a bit: from dense, classically structured perfumes that evolve gradually from top to bottom, they are now much lighter and expansive, with consistent quality that I find in all of them (except for Yuzu Citrus, which is an "oldie" and I hope a steady part of Lisa's evolving collection). If you think in terms of the "principle of amber" vs. the "principle of musk" - I'd say her earlier work belongs to the amber (i.e.: development that goes deeper and deepr into the thick of things), and the recent creations are certainly more based on the principle of musk (i.e.: expansive, radiant, evolving sideways or horizontally, as if glowing from the skin outwards).

Top notes: Black Currant Buds, Jasmine Sambac, Orange Blossom
Heart notes: Rose, Harshingar (Queen of the Night)
Base notes: Angelica Root (Don Quai?), Oud, Himalayan Cedarwood, Patchouli, Ambergris

Yuzu Citrus by Artemisia Perfume

The art of light and shadows, originally uploaded by eyecatcher.

Vibrant and bright citrus that is sweet and refreshing, like a honeyed ice-tea.
Yuzu Citrus opens with a startling bright green galbanum note, which leads the way to citrus scented lemongrass and lemon verbena leaves, the sweetness of honey and yuzu (the sweet effervescent Japanese citron) with a hint of floral notes, and based upon a balsamic-herbal foundation of clary sage and frankincense.

Galbanum notes weave in and out of the perfume as it evolves – at times green and bright, and other times balsamic and resinous with great staying power. Despite the use of yuzu in the perfume (and the name), this is not a disctintively yuzu scent. It is a green, honeyed, sappy galbanum.

The talented Lisa Fong from Artemisia Perfumes has created this perfume solely from natural essences. Ms. Fong is a former co-director of the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild, and a student of Mandy Aftel. Her style is that of refined elegance, usually focusing on a particular essence or combination of essences and showcasing their unique characateristics (my other favourites from her line bear the titles Saffron and Jasmine Tea), which brings to mind Jo Malone’s perfumery, emphasizing the individual ingredients. However, I do find Lisa Fong’s perfumes to possess a greater depth and originality and have a better lasting power.

Yuzu Citrus is the most fresh and citrusy of her line. It is a green-citrus scent that is both refreshing and long lasting.

Top notes: Galbanum, Lemongrass
Heart notes: Yuzu absolute, Lemon Verbena, Honey, Harshingar Flowers
Base notes: Frankincense, Clary Sage

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