Fall Escapism: Champaca, Kyphi, Hiking and Chai

I'm burning Kyphi incense tonight, and it seems particularly befitting for the season. I've been "getting back to my roots" so to speak this week as I was teaching my intensive, week-long perfumery course focusing on the Oriental fragrance family. Kyphi is the most ancient perfume in the form of incense pellets - it combines about 16 different resins, spices and herbs, which are bound together with honey, raisins and wine. I made this incense three years ago (in September, actually...). It was burnt in ancient Egyptian temple in the evening, to "banish the worries of the day". And it does just that!

Now that my busiest season has began, I'm already finding it essential to keep my life balanced. Fall's transitions into the school year are exciting but also taxing. And with the market season beginning, I must take good care for not falling into stress-mode because this is going to last nearly 4 months and I am hardly going to have a single weekend off in the coming weeks!

I began making perfumes 9 years ago, when I was a full-time student in an intensive program, and also a very new single-mother. Stress was inevitable, and just as inevitable was me waking up at 5am every morning so that I can get a few moments to myself to burn incense and meditate. It seems like things are coming full circle now and I will be needing to go a similar route: wake up early and make sure my day does not begin with answering emails, or even making breakfast... But with thanking for and paying attention to my breathing. And what better way than burning incense to become aware of one's breath and deepen it?

Hiking or simple long walks in the neighborhood (the West End is surrounded by water in 3 directions, as well as a nearly-natural rainforest of Stanley Park). Morning visits to Coal Harbour always make my day seem promising and exciting, and the water always pops new ideas into my head! And in the evening, a long stroll along the seawall all the way to Lost Lagoon, Beaver Lake or the Rose Garden are a good finale to a day - usually with a companion that can share the beauty of the scenery and reflect on the day that just gone by.

And than, of course, there is tea to warm my hands on that early morning stroll, or lift up my spirits just before the workday is over. Chai tea is special in that it has to be actually cooked in a pot with all the spices and milk - something I hardly ever do on a week day, but reserve for weekends and guests... Or when I decide to go to the Indian restaurant to get lunch instead of cook it myself... Fortunately, there is a really good one right next door and it feels like home there (sort of, except for the giant Bollywood marathon on their big-screen TV).

Champaca Chai, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

And last but not least - here's a one-of-a-kind perfume that is especially appropriate for today: Champaca Chai. The fantasy of this perfume encompasses both the hiking, chai and smoky components that seem to save my mundane life from total disaster... It speaks to my fantasy of an outdoorsy tea ritual, preferably after a long hike on the mountains, and has a soothing milkiness to go with its rustic smoky surroundings. I also find the essence of champaca flower, with its complexity and fruitiness, to be reminiscent of Kyphi.

Top notes:
Ginger, Nutmeg, Mace, Cardamom, Fennel, Caraway

Heart notes:
Champaca, Jasmine, Coconut, Honey

Base notes:
Black Tea, Budhawood, Clove bud, Tonka bean

Tropical Tea Party - The Presentation

Tropical Flowers Scent Strips, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Tropic flowers we smelled: Tuberose absolute, orange blossom absolute, golden champaca absolute, ylang ylang extra, ylang ylang concrete, Pink Lotus, Jasmine grandiflorum, Egyptian Jasmine, Jasmine Sambac, Attar Motia (jasmine sambac attar), Tea rose essential oil (from China). When smelling the jasmines, we compared the different kinds, and also demonstrated their relationship to civet (the indole that is so strongly present in both - especially in Jasmine grandiflorum from India).

Indian Attars, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Indian Attars we smelled at the presentation:
Kewda Attar, Summer Rose Attar, Saffron Attar, Attar Motia (Jasmine Sambac), and several Indian attars that are complete perfumes made of tens of not around 100 different spices, woods and flowers: Amulya Attar, Amberi Attar, Black Musk Attar

And last but not least - presenting 4 Limited Edition Tropical Flower & Spice perfume, which I will discuss in more detail over the course of the next few days on SmellyBlog. For now let's just announce their names and main theme:

Tuberose Massaman - tuberose against steamed curried rice notes of turmeric and saffron attar, and of course - a massaman curry blend of spice oils and lemongrass.

Jasmine Pho - clear and transparent jasmine tea against fresh cilantro, basil and lime as they steep in a freshly brewed Vietnamese Pho noodle soup.

Curry Rose - Indian summer rose attar and Ruh Gulab spiced with cumin-laden Indian curries, overtop the fenugreek-like notes of immortelle and patchouli shawls.

Champaca Chai - cooking chai on top of the Himalayas, evoking the spice, tea, steamy full-cream milk and the smoke from the woods that burnt to make this elixir.

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