Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Happy Year of the Dragon :-)

Today marks the beginning of another 12 year zodiacal cycle, and being a dragon myself I can only hope for the best. This year it's a black dragon, or a water dragon, and it also marks the end of the cycle of wood and the beginning of a cycle of fire. The dragon is a mythical creature of remarkable size. So big that you can't see both of its head and tail at the same time! So it always has something new to show you when you least expect it. Dragon, unlike the Western evil fire-spitting monsters are believed to brings good fortune in Chinese culture. From all that I gathered means that it's a year of unpredictable things, surprising turns of events that could change for either better or worse - according to all the sources that like to predict things... How convenient for them!

On a more on-topic for this blog notion: my spontaneous search today for a dragon-related plants (preferably aromatic) did not yield anything of interest besides what I already knew about... There is the obvious - 9 bend dragon red tea (probably not the only dragon-inspired tea in China though!) which I've tasted and reported about earlier. But I'm speaking of dragon's blood (the resin of the plant pictured above), which is blood-red, and is used in incense more than in perfumery. I've used in in my Clarimonde perfume. It is associated with the planet of Mars, and is burnt in magical rituals to return a lost love. It has a scent not unlike frankincense when burnt on hot charcoal.

The other dragon-related aromatic plant is tarragon - aka estragon - which means "little dragon". It has a sweet, balsamic, anise-like scent because of the methyl chavicol content (it might remind you of exotic or Thai basil as well), but brighter and greener than aniseed or fennel, and the absolute is out of this world lovely, with buttery, lactonic aspects that are rare to find in plant extracts. I've used it in my Vetiver Racinettes and Black Licorice. And of course - the culinary uses of tarragon are quite delightful - I use it in fennel & orange tea sandwiches, in salad dressings and on fish.

Since I've been so absorbed in my botanical research of aphrodisiacs I think writing about these two in more depth will take place later. But I hope you found this very little bit inspiring and that the year will bring you only happy surprises!

The Licorice Side of Herbs

bees love anise hyssop, originally uploaded by Pocket Farmer.

About a week into the game, and my violet-lavender perfume has developed beautifully, softening and at the same time becoming more extremely sweet and powdery. The vanilla I've used in this particular fragrance is a rare find - a food-grade vanilla absolute extracted with
sugar-cane alcohol as a solvent, making it sweet and rum-y. It's as if the iris and the violet have become more creamy and

The other experiment I've blended August 11th, inspired by the ice cream of the day before, still requires more maturation before I can judge it further. So far all I can say is that I'm really enjoying this odd aspect of licorice-y herbs, a side-track of my attempt to marry lavender and basil together. I've used a methyl-chavicol type basil, which is heavier and spicier, with that licorice aftertaste to it. And than of course tarragon oil to accentuate that and tarragon absolute for the base. I have initially intended to use cocoa absolute at the base as well (as you may recall, it was the basil-chocolate ice cream that is to blame). However, I am finding myself using chocolate in too many situations so I'm going to try to stay away from it at least in one of my developments for the lavender-basil theme. I may need to add more tarragon to the August 11th formula to contribute to the overall underlining herbal sweetness and accentuate the licorice aspect of basil a bit further; and than start another one that would have chocolate at the base, just so I have a point of reference (and don't feel like I'm missing out on anything).

And last but not least - this weekend I have promised myself (and a few other people) to make basil-flavoured chocolate truffles. Cross your fingers for me, I really want this to turn out smashing!

Vetiver Rouge

Root Beer, originally uploaded by Just Peachy!.

My recent vetiver experiments concluded with a fourth liquid (alcohol based) perfume, which I temporarily named Vetiver Rouge. From all of my vetivers, this is the most complex and ambitious in a sense. I was trying to create a more rounded, multifaceted fragrance. Still, vetiver is the theme. But to the vetiver I added a note which I have never seen together before: the elusive, distinctive, intensely licorice-sweet yet somewhat green - Tarragon Absolute. I used again a few types of vetiver, but the most tenacious of them, the Ruh Khus and the Ruh with Attar Mitti (baked earth) dominate with their copper undertones (origininated at the traditional Indian still, which is made of copper).

This brew of myriad little sweet rootlets, a rooty beverage, reminiscent of the “Sous” (licorice roots iced tea) that the Arab merchants used to carry in tapped copper kettles on their backs alongside the sour & salty Tamarhind and (the less exciting) lemonade.

Of all my vetiver scent, this is the one I am most excited about. We’ll see where this will lead me…

* If you wish to try Vetiver Rouge, or the previous three vetiver (Vetiver Blanc, Vetiver Noir and Wilde Vetyver) samples can be obtained via email. The price is the same for all my other samples ($5.99 plus shipping). If you order all four, you will also get a free sample of the solid vetiver perfume (to be announced here tomorrow).

Back to the top