Newsletters

2001

  • Patchouli

    Before embarking upon another plant monograph, in this case Patchouli/Pogostemon cablin, I would like to mention once again a very important point. The information being shared is, at best, an attempt to open up to greater view a world that may be little known or understood. It is based partly on personal experience and partly on the experience of others who have a great deal more knowledge than I from the level of understanding essential oil production. I would like to gently encourage all reading this to bear in mind that I am also a very beginning student in understanding this subject. In short this is not meant to be an authoritative commentary on Patchouli but just one door into a very interesting world.

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  • Lotus 2

    Each one of us is on a unique and special quest during which we hope to gain appreciation of new and beautiful dimensions of life. Many of us have found a special connection to the world of aromatic plants and the wonderful essences extracted or distilled from them. Gradually we are learning that such precious gems of the botanical kingdom are the result of an intricate web of relationships between environments, plants, climates, farmers or gatherers, and extractors/distillers. The creative use of these radiant treasures is in the domain of practicing natural perfumery. Each and every part of this world is significant and each person engaged in it has a chance to offer some special gift which is a manifestation of their own inner beauty and goodness. As the appreciation for all the parts grows one has the opportunity to gradually increase the sense of wonder, mystery and awe that bestows on our lives that special glow which leads to fulfillment and contentment.

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  • Frankincense

    The word frankincense has a wealth of sublime olfactory associations connected with it depending on the country and religious heritage one has grown up in. Yet in almost all cases is it linked up with feelings of devotion, prayer, contemplation and inspiration. The aroma of “mystery and wonder” created when the golden resin is placed upon smoldering embers seldom fails to pacify the heart and mind and turn it towards contemplation upon something which defies description. Even those who may not have any specific religious/cultural association with this magnificent odor are touched by its rare ethereal beauty.

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  • Spikenard

    The Spikenard of India, Nardostachys jatamansi, produces a beautiful green or chocolate colored oil, which eloquently speaks of the high mountain environs from which it comes. The rich, mysterious, earthy constituents mingle with a soft warm spicyness which is balm to the heart and soul. It captures in itself something of the spirit of those places which have been sacred places of devotion for countless centuries. The Himalayan ranges of Nepal, India and Burma provide the natural habitat for this botancial gem which has been revered both in east and west for many centuries. My personal contact with the plant has been limited to holding the aromatic roots in hand while standing in the Kullu Valley of the Himalayas. Mr. Nandlal, a true botanical lover of the Himalayas presented us with roots used for distillation gathered from the surrounding towering peaks and one could only marvel at how this modest root could be gathered from the higher reaches of the mountains by the folk living in their simple homes located on the sheer slopes. And what a sweet treasure it was to crush the roots and smell the elixir gathered in the roots from the soil of the ancient Himalayas. Following is information extracted from various web sites which may give a fuller appreciation of the plant and its special virtues. You can link to the various web sites to investigate the subject in greater depth.

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  • Aromatic Resins

    Like all of you, I have a keen interest in aromatic explorations of all sorts. Finding sources for unique essences has occupied most of my attention for the past several years and that will continue to be a main focus of attention for years to come.It truly is an inspiring time to be involved with essential oils, absolutes, CO2 extracts, attars, etc from a small entrepreneurs viewpoint. More and more direct access to distillers/extractors is opening up and it gives people like us a chance to become involved with projects which may be dear to our hearts.

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  • Earth Aroma

    The mystery of the earth itself cannot be fathomed by the human mind. As we stroll across any small piece of land, we are liable to forget that it is teeming with an unseen life. Molds, fungi, micro-organisms, minerals, earthworms, water, and so many other things are active there producing the environment in which the seeds and roots of plants are nourished and brought into expression in an incredible array of color, form, odor, and texture which the greatest artists of the world have endeavored to capture glimpses of in their paintings, sculptures, poems, etc. When we look at any piece of land and smell the variety of odors emitted by the plants growing there, it makes one realize how profound the subject of the earth is. The plants living, in basically the same environment are selecting from the soil very special components which are going to give the flowers, herbs, roots etc their distinctive odor. It is truly a wonder of wonders.

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  • Organic Essential Oils

    Two years ago Suzanne and I began refining the focus of our modest essential oil enterprise. Since that time quite a few new folks have become customers so I thought it might be helpful to have a short update on what that focus is and how our enterprise continues to evolve. First of all we felt, at that time, that after 5 years of business we had a better sense of what we enjoyed offering to all of you through White Lotus Aromatics i.e. quality organic and wild harvested essential oils and CO2 extracts as well as traditional Indian attars and a select line of absolutes. We also felt it was important for us personally to always be seeking out a few new items each month so that our knowledge and enjoyment of the world of natural aromatics would remain fresh and zestful as well as providing you, our customers, a wider selection of materials for your aromatic creations.

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  • Silver Fir

    In the coming months I will be featuring a series of simple monographs containing botanical descriptions,links to images, olfactory descriptions, basic gc analysis, etc of a selection of oils. These are not going to be as in depth as some of the other newsletters that I have done but should provide some useful information to you. I will continue to work on some more in depth newsletters(distillation newsletter approaching completion) but will now add these less complex monographs. Also please note that I have recently updated the wholesale section of my web site which includes many new oils from Ethiopia and South Africa.

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  • Grand Fir

    I think it is important to realize though that each oil is a synergy of many components all interacting in some unique fine balance created by nature. And it is equally important to realize that only the essential oils major components are listed above. This is always valuable to bear in mind because the minor and trace components play an important part in the olfactory nature of any essential oil. This is a vast and deep subject, truly beyond my comprehension. I have limited myself to enjoying the benefits of the oil through appreciating the form, color, and beauty of the plant as it appears in nature, the environments in which they grow, the traditional uses to which the plant has been put, the lore and legends that have grown up around them, etc.

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  • Cypress

    Cypress olfactory description: fresh, green, resinous topnote. Round soft, sweet balsamic-woody bouquet gently exerts its influence as the topnote fades. There is a distinct note of rich resinous sun warmed pine cones that appears deep in the dryout. The olfactory receptors are cooled and soothed by the odor. A nice aromatic nasal air-conditioner

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  • Rosemary

    This is a subject which one can never tire of. It is full of many unique surprises. Oftentimes we tend to base our evaluation of an oil on its topnote but to really get to know an oil one has to go deeper and become friends with them. A well distilled oil will reveal many intricate complexities that surprise one at every stage. It is often hard to say where a topnote ends, a middle note begins, a middle note ends and a base note begins. I have often seen that notes appear and disappear throughout the process of evaporation. There seems to me to be a total emanation of an oil which is much more than its individual parts and when doing any analysis one is trying to put into words something which is forever changing in its olfactory landscape. Indeed from second to second subtle nuances appear and disappear(or so it seems to me) In short, concentrated attention on any one oil can lead to intriguing olfactory discoveries within the course of an hour or longer Right now I am sitting smelling the so-called base notes of three different rosemary’s and each while having a distinct personality continues to reveal very complex attributes even after over an hour of study. Indeed, I would suggest that many oils are beautiful perfumes in themselves if one is willing to go deep into their personalities.

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  • Carrot Seed

    The original wild-type carrots were thin, wiry, and varied in color from white to purple, but not the common orange that we see today. Wild-type carrots are also known as Queen Anne’s Lace. The origin of the name is based upon an English legend. Supposedly, when the future Queen Anne arrived from Denmark to became the queen of King James I of England, wild carrot was still a novelty in the royal gardens. The legend states that Queen Anne challenged the ladies of the court to a contest to see who could produce a pattern of lace as lovely as the flower of the carrot. The ladies knew that no one could rival the queen’s handiwork so it became a triumph for Anne (Haughton, 1978). Other common names for wild carrot are bird’s-nest and devil’s-plague.

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  • Bergamot

    The exploration and enjoyment of olfactory sensations is one which will forever enchant ones heart. When one enters this domain, one may wish to do so with the understanding that ones perception of aromatic oils will be forever undergoing a process of transformation. It is not that we smell a precious and delectable oil only once and then we have mastered that essence. Indeed the sense of smell is a cultivated and developed over many years. There are many olfactory perceptors that have become dormant due to lack of use and need to be reawakened again through the disciplined concentration on each individual essence. In due course of time one begins to discover many sublime dimensions of each oil, dimensions that may not have been at all detectable in the early phases of this delightful study.

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  • Douglas Fir

    Although the enthnobotanical section does not shed direct light on the uses of the essential oil, it does give us an insight into the cultural uses of the plant in various parts of the world. It is important to remember that the people who actually used the plants in different dimensions of their lives, often had an inner appreciation and respect for them (the plants) which is difficult to capture in words. Plants were often seen as living entities endowed with s special type of consciousness that humans needed to attune themselves too in order to understand the many aesthetic and practical virtues concealed within them. Indeed the whole world in which the plants lived was seen as a vibrant energy field that needed to be understood so that a true balance in give and take could be maintained.

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  • Oregano

    Olfactory description of oregano: Extremely powerful, penetrating punguent dry green herbaceous-medicinal odor top and heart notes. This is an oil that not only impacts ones nasal passages with a strong tingling sensation but seems to pass into the throat zone with similar effect. This is not an oil for the timid. It seems to clear out anything in its path leaving only its own powerful resonating vibration. Tenacious dryout preserving many of the characteristics of the top and heart notes with somewhat reduced intensity

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  • Holy Basil

    The Holy Basil plant from which the oil is distilled has been revered in India for thousands of years. It has a special place in the courtyard of Hindu families. The daily routine of many families is centered around this plants worship. When one begins to investigate its use in indigenous systems of medicine, then it is easy to see why the plant is considered so special. The sages and seers of ancient times were keen to instill in people’s hearts appreciation for the virtues to be derived from plants. Holy Basil could easily be cultivated in a wide range of climates and filled the surrounding atmosphere with a type of charged aroma which was in itself an elixir of the finest quality. This coupled with the rich inner world that often is part of the Eastern heart and mind, brought this plant into a world of symbolic imagery which is a delight to read about.

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  • Tamanu Seed

    Up till quite recently my entire focus has been on offering essential oils, absolutes, traditional attars and CO2 extracts. In the coming months I will be offering a range of fixed/carrier oils for those of you who use them in compounding your delectable products for personal use or for your customers. Just last week I procured a first consignment of Calophyllum inophyllum oil from Africa which you may enjoy exploring. Kindly note that the information provided is selected for your education and enjoyment.

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  • Osmanthus

    I hope that many of you have had the opportunity to enhale the heady aroma of fresh osmanthus flowers, one of the true delights of the earth plane. The tiny inconspicous flowers of this delightful plant bloom in the fall months and fill the air with a rare perfume that surrounds one and penetrates deep into the heart. On the Filoli Estate where I worked for almost a decade we had a golden flowered osmanthus growing in a large bed of Chinese Tree Peonies which never failed to delight one with its intoxicating aroma on a crisp autumn day. I hope that you will enjoy this article which is written in honor of this wonderful tree and the ethereal concrete and absolute prepared from its flowers.

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  • Incense

    Several new and interesting projects continue to evolve which should, in the months to come, prove delightful from an aromatic standpoint . As mentioned in a recent newsletter I have come in contact with an agricultural operation in Assam that is growing Agarwood trees/Aquilaria agallocha under cultivation. They have successfully inoculated the trees with the fungus that causes the formation of the agar resin and are now able to produce the precious aromatic resin as a renewable resource. As mentioned before the wild harvested species, while still in existence have been put under a lot of stress do to intensive harvesting so this may also provide the naturally occurring trees with some relief as it is less costly to produce the cultivated agarwood.

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  • Jasmin Grandiflorum

    It use to be that Grasse, France was the world leader in production of Jasmine absolutes and pommades. Today the centers of production have changed to countries like Egypt, India, Morocco and South Africa. Still some small amount is produced in Grasse of very high quality(and cost) All the above mentioned countries also produce beautiful Jasmin grandiflorum concretes and in some cases absolutes. Several old companies in and around Grasse still practice the high art and craft of absolute production and do their work by procuring concretes from India, Egypt, etc to which they have close links having, in many cases, supporting overseas production of these precious products. As with each one of these newsletters, there are volumes more that can be said but I think the real idea is to inspire each one of your to go deeper into the subject from your own particular angle of interest and expertise

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  • Costus Root

    A high altitude plant with a unique and beautiful physical form is Saussurea lappa commonly known as Costus Root. It grows on the moist slopes of the Himalayas at altitudes of 8000-12000 feet in Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Lahul-Spiti, etc. It both grows wild and is cultivated. The roots have a long history of medicinal and aesthetic use in Tibet, India and other mountain regions. It was a prized item of commerce from the earliest times as the roots were reputed not only to have great curative properties but also wonderful aromatic qualities much prized in perfume creations of the ancient world. It not only was appreciated as an oil but as a prime ingredient in incense.

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  • Nigella Sativa

    The world of essential oils, CO2 extracts, absolutes, attars and other essences is strongly supported by a variety of important fixed or carrier oils which not only act as natural diluents for the highly concentrated aromatics but have their own unique cosmetic and/or therapeutic value. Gradually I have been adding a few of these for people who wish to use them in for their fragrant creations. A few weeks back the first monograph on fixed/carrier oils was posted. It concerned Callophyllum inophyllum, a lovely thick green spicy carrier oil. Today we will take up Nigella sativa or Black Cumin a superb cold pressed oil from India. There is some confusion about the Nigella sativa/fixed or carrier oil and the Nigella sativa essential oil and I hope this monograph may clear some of this confusion up. Sometimes the fixed/carrier oil is being sold as an essential oil but there is a great difference in the olfactory properties and the cost of the two. The Nigella sativa fixed oil has the faint peppery/spicy odor of the seed whereas the essential oil is extremely intense and very expensive(and very rarely offered in its pure form) The percentage fixed oil in the seeds is in the range of 35-40% and that of the volatile oil from .5-1.5%. From this alone one can see that the fixed oil will be many times less expensive than the essential oil. The main focus of this article is on the fixed oil but the essential oil is available from one reputable distiller in India and I can procure it if there is sufficient interest.

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  • Peppermint

    Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit one of the large mint growing belts of Uttar Pradesh, in the region around Badaun. Traveling from the Himalayas we entered the plains and journeyed on roads that were rough and dubiously maintained but the sites, sounds and smells of rural India delighted the eye, ear and nose . Though the body was jostled about the heart was filled with happiness in becoming absorbed in the visions of rural life styles that remain intact into the modern times. Toward evening we reached the outskirts of Badaun. A fresh coolness was on the air reviving one after the dust and heat of the the days journey. Along the road we were traveling one could see bullock cart after bullock cart ladened with freshly cut mint headed for one of the many local distilleries situated throughout the region. The delightful fresh sharp and penetrating aroma of peppermint filled the nostrils adding greatly to the beauty of this wonderful scene.

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  • Distillation

    When considering the beauty and mystery of the world of aromatic plants and their precious essences which are distilled and extracted by various methods, one comes to realize that in the short space of a lifetime one may only scratch the surface in understanding the subject. As all of you know the process of growing any crop requires a lot of skill and knowledge on the part of those engaged in such work. Working with nature over a period of many years engrains in one a respect for the wonders around one and develops a sincere humility as learns to adjust to the environmental changes that influence the growth of a plant from seed to maturity. When plants have reached the moment of perfect aromatic maturity, they then go into the hands of those engaged in distilling or extracting their precious essence. It is one more vital part in the entire process. It is a subject that has its own aura of mystery. Actually little has been written about the intricasies of the subject and certainly one must be directly engaged in this process to really understand it. The creative imagination will have to serve for those of us who have not yet been afforded this opporutnity.

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  • Juniper Berry

    Different species of juniper abound in the USA. Juniperus virginina/Virginia cedarwood, Juniperus occidentalis/Western juniper and Juniperus ashei/Texas Cedarwood yield essential oils which are still produced in substantial quantities. But there are other species of juniper that exist here and the plant has held a revered place in the lives of the Native American people since times beyond memory. The tree and shrub had a special place in the lives of the people.

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  • White Rose

    The White Rose Project in Bulgarian was a natural progession from the projects that went before. In August of 2000 I began interacting with Vassil Loutchev who represented a respected distillery in Bulgaria and as our conversations evolved the thought came in my mind regarding doing a project with the much less known white rose, Rosa alba. Over the years I had encountered descriptions of the white rose of Bulgaria, its use as a hedging material for the pink rose, Rosa damascena, its hardy nature, its delicate sweet, rosacous honey odor, etc. Ernest Guenther also mentioned it in passing in his noble 6 volume work on essential oils. Through Vassil and his distilling associates I came to know that the white rose while nce widely grown in Bulgaria, was now considerably rarer and only one region of the Valley of the Roses had significant amounts of this rose of sublime beauty. One of the reasons it had lost favor was that compared to the pink rose the yield of essential oil and absolute was roughly half. This had earned it the name of the “dry” rose. And of course this made it a much more expensive material to produce and sell. This only peaked my interest further. I had already been through the experience of sponsoring projects with the lotus which were also very expensive from the production side of things as well as having to create a market for them once extracted so I did not feel daunted by the prospect of supporting a project concerning the white rose

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  • Direct Sourcing

    I hope that all of you are enjoying this wonderful contemplative time of year which in many cases has special significance according to each person’s unique approach to life. Today I am going to endeavor to share a little bit more about how one may go about the direct sourcing adventure and still maintain one’s sanity.(Well maintaining one’s sanity may not be possible but at least you can enjoy the many experiences that will unfold).  But for those of you who have a passion for relating to plants and people of different cultures, perhaps sponsoring a distillation of a particular aromatic plant, etc the information that follows may help you begin your own special project.

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