Sunset Beach Reviewed by EauMG

Sunset Beach

Thank you to Victoria Jent's glowing review of Sunset Beach on her excellent fragrance and beauty blog, EauMG:
"Sunset Beach wears like a powder of finely milled precious woods with a subtle coconut milk-like sweetness and vanilla custard-like ylang-ylang. The dry-down really does remind me of sun-bleached driftwood and warm, sun-kissed skin. It’s creamy with a sweaty bitterness from woods like sandalwood and massoia (…) Warm, milky woods. It’s a summery, beachy fragrance that isn’t “tanning oil”. Yay!"

"A little tranquility in this chaotic life" - Sunset Beach reviewed on Fragrantica

Many thanks to Ida Meister's evocative review of Sunset Beach perfume on Fragrantica:

"It's spicily, soothingly narcotic in a delicate, refined manner – so I think of it as an elegant complex gourmand for adults. It is so comfortable to wear, yet never mundane: the flinty/metallic aspect of orris adds that silvery edge of mica in the sand, mirroring late afternoon light's reflection scattered upon the waves."

Creamy Sandalwood

Coconut Love

Driven in part by my disappointment from Santal Massoïa (too cold, linear and paper-like) I've decided to smell for myself what sandalwood and massoia bark smell like together. Intuition tells me it should be smelling creamy, rich, warm and seductive, and not like a glass of cold milk spiked with iso-E super.

Sandalwood is a tricky note for me: one that does not develop very nicely on my skin. That is to say, the sandalwoods that are available nowadays don't agree with my skin. Unless you're attracted to sawdust and soured sweat. So intuition told me that adding a creamy aspect to it, which is what most contemporary sandalwoods are lacking, is going to allow me to enjoy sandalwood even on my finicky skin.

Massoia bark oil and CO2 extract have a unique aroma in the world of natural essences: intense, fruity, fatty-buttery with pronounced oily, lactonic notes of toasted-coconuts that comes from massoia lactone (the IUPAC name is (R)-5,6-Dihydro-6-pentyl-2H-pyran-2-one). It also naturally occurs in osmanthus absolute, which is why in some combinations, and when used sparingly osmanthus gives off a coconutty aroma to a composition without even being noticed on its own. Case in point is my Charisma perfume, which took on this character only once I've added the osmanthus absolute. 

Other milky notes were also taken into consideration, including a milky oolong tincture which I haven't used in any of my ready-to-wear line yet, although it is absolutely stunning. The idea was to create a very rich, opulent sandalwood perfume that is both sophisticated and a little beachy and fun-loving.

I used a smidgeon from a sample of Royal Hawaiian sandalwood oil I recently received, as well as my personal stash of Mysore sandalwood oil and Vanuatu oil (the latter is my favourite). Add to that a healthy dose of massoia bark, milky oolong tincture and a handful of secret spices - and you get the broad picture.

The next step was to balance it with something floral, so it's not just an accord of woods. I was on the fence between champaca's incense, fruity undertones; and ylang ylang's creamy, banana-ish character. Then there is the question of warmth and spices: shall I add cloves, cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg? I wanted their warmth, but not the culinary associations. So I opted for coffee instead - to give it a roasted, spice-like edge, but not mess up with the woody-coconutty context. This perfume is still in the works, so I will stop right here and will continue testing and tweaking until I'm perfectly happy with it. For now, I'm just enjoying dousing myself with it on those early days of summer. And it's especially appropriate to wear today, as it is Shavuot!

P.s. It's interesting to note regarding Massoia: Massoia lactone is produced synthetically, mostly, for both perfumery and flavouring purposes. Peeling the bark eventually kills the tree, so it's not exactly a "sustainable" ingredient, even though a little goes a very long way...

Tincturing Milky Oolong

Tincturing oolong tea, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I've been tincturing my milky oolong tea in the past couple of weeks, with mixed-success results.
There is no doubt the jus that results from this botanical is fragrant. But at first it smells like some sort of a witch's brew (and as you can see, the colour is quite reassuring in this direction), and only improves after sitting on a scent strip for a few minutes.
The true test for it, of course, is skin and perfume. On the skin I'm not really impressed with it on its own (yet). But I have added a few drops to an existing perfume that was begging for a cup of tea, and it seems to add some depth...
The interesting part is, though, that the one10 days in ethanol did not seem to take everything out of the leaf. So I'm doing a 2nd "steeping" and curious to see if there will be an improvement.

Milky Oolong

Milky Oolong, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

One gloomy spring day, I sought refuge from the daily stresses and a twitched heart by taking tea at the Urban Merchant’s new tea salon (1070 West Georgia).
Assisting me in search of a tea that is not aromatized but very aromatic - their tea ambassador recommended milky oolong. The name peaked my curiosity, which was temporarily satisfied as I buried my head halfway down a bucket-sized tin of the above-mentioned botanical gem. As it turned out, the tea was well represented: the crunched-up dry leaves had the aroma of butterscotch, which is nothing short of a miracle. Steeped in hot water (95 C / 203 F), the tea leaves unfurl to reveal an aromatic palette that is simultaneously complex, light and rich. The steam emanated a refreshing transparency as the droplets of clear tea condensed on the transparent glass. Sipping away, it was indeed what it promised: milky and smooth, with the illusion of caramel yet with no sugar or milk in sight. It also has a transparent floral aspect to the nose, and than the buttery milky smoothness comes back in the sweet aftertaste, that appears in your mouth and throat after the tea was swallowed. Even the second steeping gave away an astonishingly vibrant aroma (and I wish I had the time to stay in for more steeping – but that would have taken the whole day!).

This milky oolong tea is the most pricy tea I’ve ever encountered, even among fancy oolongs. But the price is well worth it: it can be re-steeped for up to 7 times, and the intensity of aroma is surprisingly potent well into the 4th steeping.

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