Newsletters

2002

  • Ambrette Seed

    Description of Ambrette Seed: This evergreen shrub is about 4 feet in height, having alternate, palmate leaves and large, sulphur yellow, solitary flowers with a purple base. The capsules are in the form of a five-cornered pyramid, filled with large seeds with a strong odour of musk. The capsules are used in soup and for pickles, and the greyish-brown, kidney-shaped seeds, the size of a lentil, with a strong aromatic flavour, are used by the Arabians to mix with coffee. They are used in perfumery for fats and
    oils, and for the adulteration of musk.

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  • Sweet Marjoram

    For those of you have an interest in Natural Perfumery there is a wonderful book out which really captures the spirit of this ancient art and craft. The name of the book is Alchemy and Essence. It is written by Mandy Aftel who by good fortune lives near us. Suzanne is taking an intensive series of classes on creating natural perfumes along with 7 other lovely people and it is a total joy and happiness for everyone. Actually 3 of the students were over today in the afternoon doing olfactory explorations of the 200 plus attars, absolutes, essential oils, CO2 extracts, etc in stock. Such times are very precious in this life because everyone’s heart is filled with the simple and pure joy of appreciating the wonders of the natural world and then figuring out how they might be combined to bring a ray of sunshine into the lives of others. The oils themselves when sniffed with concentration and appreciation naturally open up doors of creativity dwelling in the heart and then laughter bubbles forth in a natural expression of gladness for being alive and surrounded with so much beauty.

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  • C02 Extracts: Part 1

    Many of you are either familiar or becoming familiar with the CO2 total and select extracts of various botanicals, aromatic and otherwise. The terms total and select as applied to Supercritical CO2 extracts need a simple explanation so that the two different materials are not confused(as the prices on the specified extracts also vary considerably). First the Supercritical process extraction technique uses slightly warmed(31 degrees Centigrade) Carbon dixoide to extract the aromatic constitutents of a plant(for Select Extracts) and the aromatic constituents plus the lipophylic consituents(for total extracts) In both cases the properly ground or pulverized material is placed in a pressurized chamber into which the Carbon dioxide is pumped. The Carbon dioxide in this presurrized condition remains in its gaseous state but displays the quality of a liquid and effectively dissolves the targeted constitutents of the plant. Lower pressure conditions remove the volatile oils(Select extracts) and higher pressures(Total extract) remove the fatty oils, waxes, pigments, etc that naturally exist in the plant.

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  • C02 Extracts: Part 2

    Yesterday I had the chance to meet with colleagues in India who have a nifty CO2 extraction facility in Maharastra State, India. These dedicated and kind people have done an incredible work in producing total and select extracts, some of which I have never encountered before. Select extracts of Patchouli, Spikenard and Spike Ginger produced superb olfactory experiences. The rounded and complete bouquet of the carefully extracted botanicals was wonderful to experience and this was greatly enhanced by meeting people who have worked wholeheartidly to refine the art and craft of CO2 extraction. As I talked with them I was once again reminded of the importance that the raw materials play in any distillation or extraction process. These gentleman realized very early in their work that there was no sense in using any but the finest raw materials for their work. A huge investment in research and development went into doing experimental extractions so they could see for the themselves which raw materials would produce the finest total and select extracts.

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  • February Notes

    A bit of a general newsletter is being sent out today. First a reminder that today is the last day for CO2 extract preordering. It is an equal delight for me to put an order together as I have the chance to see friends and customers ordering things which I myself do not stock. Now I am working on a list of absolutes for preordering. It is equally exciting. I think that between the different extractors I have the good fortune to work with over 75 absolutes will be available. I myself have never experienced a number of them so it will be exciting to see what all of you order. It is quite interesting an intriguing to know that all of these precious essences have some special use that brings join, zest and beauty to life.

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  • Gulab/Rose 2

    India is a land redolent with a aromatic plants. In each nook and corner of the country one finds various herbs, spices, woods, flowers, roots and grasses being grown for aromatic or medicinal purposes. Some are of fairly recent introduction like geranium, lavender, and Jasmin grandiflorum whereas others have been grown for countless generations like sandalwood, agarwood, and Jasmin sambac. Many of the plants that have a longer history in India also factor strongly into the cultural and religious lives of the country people. It is certain that this deep inner connection with the plants plays an important role in the emotional and spiritual well-being of the people. One of the flowers that has a relatively long history in the countries rich aromatic traditions is the Rose. Several species are widely cultivated in India; Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia and Rosa bourbonia. Each has its own unique aromatic profile and uses and we will look at the Rose both in the broad sense and also from the uses of the specific species.

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  • Ruh Khus 2

    As all of you know the descriptive terminology for fragrance, aroma, perfume is allusive at the best. The odors preceived through the sense of smell and the impressions and experiences they give rise to are unique and special for individual and indeed the same essence can be preceived in very different ways by every individual coming in its contact. Even a person smelling an oil at different times of the day, week, month of year may record greatly varied experiences of the oil.
    Olfactory perception is something which a person can develop with concentration and attention giving ingress to ever widening domains of mystery, awe and wonder. Yet one need not bypass the world of words totally when one enters this world. There is a certain creative joy in describing indescribable impressions. It is a way of giving shape to an invisible world. Whereas the words can never give a perfect description of the experience of fragrance they can certainly capture the “spirit” of the experience and create a rainbow bridge of understanding into the hearts of others. It is not so much that we need be exact in the verbal description but that the words might convey some of the joy and sweetness the world of the invisible aromas creates n our hearts.

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  • Saffron

    The times which we live are filled with many beautiful things and one can hardly catch their breath before some new aromatic treasure has appeared on the horizon. Sometimes I think the plant world is sending us many special radiant and redolent benign treasures to remind us that always there are things to be grateful and thankful for each and every step of the way. In my own aromatic quest I feel like I am living in a constant state of amazement. Their are numbers of really wonderful distillers and extractors doing superb work. They may not have all the sophisticated equipment for analysis etc but what they are doing in their respective parts of the world is not less than a marvel and a real blessing for humankind. One has to stop and remember that each and every precious oils that comes into our hands is created by an intricate process of growing and nurturing plants, gathering them, distilling or extracting them correctly, etc. The more we can bring this into our awareness the more our appreciation will grow for the precious vials of exquisite essences that grace our lives. Today we will explore the world of saffron. I hope you will enjoy the tidbits of information offered herein.

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  • Lemon-Scented Tea Tree

    The aroma of the lemon-scented tea tree is very fine, delicate and sweet lemon-roseaceous topnote. Fresh and clean wholesome aroma. As the topnote melds into the heart note a more penetrationg, slightly punguent herbaceous, lemon-lime like odor appears. A combined lemon verbena/citronella/lemongrass type of aroma which is to say grassy, leafy and citrus peel like. The sweet delicate topnote impression remains present well into the heartnote. It is a sparkling effervescent oil. This is definitely an oil of unexpected delights. The distillation is excellent(we should not forget that the distiller plays a critical part in the beauty of any oil.

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  • Olfactory Perception

    Working on the newsletters is both relaxing and educational for me and I hope for you. I learn as much from the questions all of you ask as I do from any other type of research because a lot of them have to do with very practical issues. As often mentioned my main knowledge and expertise lies in the in production side of things because in a very direct way I have both worked as a horticulturist all of my adult life(including farming in India from 1971-1976) as well as seen many of the processes of distillation and extraction taking place before my eyes. The lives of the farmers in India, the environments they work in and the plants they grow are also quie familiar to me. That has helped me immeaurably to understand how CO2 extracts, absolutes, essential oils, attars, incense, etc are created. I hope that each of you may one day have the opportunity to experience some of these things because it is a real eye opener. Of equal importance is to come in contact with the farmers, plants and environments in which they grow. Once this happens ones appreciation and gratitude go on increasing day to day. These types of feelings can never decrease but grow as ones ability to digest them increases.

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  • December 2002

    Dear Friends,
    Today we will progress further with our exploration of olfactory perception. Adjectives beginning with B related to Olfactory Perception: bad, beautiful, best, better, bitter, bittersweet, black, bland, blithe, blue, bold, bright,botanical, brilliant, briny, broad, brown, buoyant, buttery. Verbs: bake, bite, blend, boil, bracing, breathe, brew, broil, bruise, bubbling, budding, burning.

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  • Aromatic Traditions of India

    As I have sometimes mentioned in past newsletters, in the earlier years of my life, between the age of 21 and 26 I had a chance to live in India on a small farm south of the city of Bangalore. In this lovely subtropical rural setting I had the chance to learn live simply during these important years of the life. The daily routine was very much in the ancient agricultural tradition. Rising early for meditation and then working throughout the day on all the activities by which a small farm exists. The days were often long but very evenly paced. It was a self contained existence with the work of the hands producing wonderful results in the food they we ate. Wheat, corn, ragi(a special grain of South India) peanuts, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, assorted vegetables formed the major portion of the crops grown where I lived. It was a wonderful experience to be involved with every part of this process from planting to harvest.Along with this came the knowledge of an ancient land which was absorbed through intimate contact with the land. A good deal of the time one needed to work only in shorts and a tee shirt without the need for shoes or other clothing. It was a benign environment as that region of India is blessed with a very balanced climate that suited outdoor living the year round.

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  • Visit to Assam, Agarwood 1

    This account is the result of a just completed expedition to the center of agarwood production in the state of Assam. For many years the longing to explore the world of agarwood had been in my heart but the proper contacts to do so had not manifested. As is well known to anyone interested in the subject there is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the topic and rarely has any Westerner been allowed into the centers of actual production. After researching the subject in terms of written literature, talking with colleagues who had some knowledge of the raw materials , and procuring samples of “so-called” agarwood oil, I became convinced that unless I had the chance to see things first hand, I would never understand the topic properly. It is one of the most expensive essences in existence and although many people had requested me to carry it I did not feel comfortable offering an item for which I did not have actual knowledge of the sources from which it came.

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  • Visit to Assam, Agarwood 2

    The walk about town in the early morning provided us with some more ideas of what might evolve in their area and perhaps other places in Assam. Our stroll took us through some fine residental districts where charming bungalows had graceful gardens in which we could identify a number of plants possessing rare aromatic virtues. These included Parijata(Nyctanthes arbortristis), Champa(Michelia champaca), Bakul(Mimusops elengi)and Frangipani(Plumeria alba). The flowers of these trees could all be used to produce simple infused oils, hydrosols and distillates. With a little organizing on a local level, people serving as domestic help could earn extra cash by collecting the flowers earlier in the morning for an hour or so. A person could be appointed to collect and deliver them to a central location where proper processing could be done. Such things are entirely possible in India and in fact have been implanted in places like Mumbai, where Urmilla, Ramakant’s wife manages a similar project. By using aromatic resources already pleasant one can create finely perfumed natural products without having to invest in expensive land, planting new trees and shrubs, etc.

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  • Visit to Assam, Agarwood 3

    Early the next morning-October 18th, Tajul once more joined us for an early morning walk about the town. We went in the opposite direction of the previous morning and on the way we visited the homes of two of his family members, Mr. Shamsul and Mr. Nazim. There we discussed in a very simple way how the lives of the poorer people in the community could be improved by collecting the flowers of parijata and bakul for distillation and infusion. There is an abundance of aromatic materials in the city to produce many wonderful products without the need for developing special plantations and this can also enhance the incomes of the local people while doing a very pleasant activity, collecting the flowers. The wonderful thing also is that the flowers of bakul and parijata naturally fall to the ground each morning and so all one needs to do is collect them. Gentle shaking of the tree or shrub can also be done but it does not require climbing in the tree and plucking by hand from the branches.

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  • Visit to Maharashtra, Blue Lotus 1

    I hope that all of you safely received the multipart article on Agarwood Explorations. If not kindly send me a message and I will send it separately to you. A few people reported having parts of the story cut off from their e-mail so that is why I mention it. I still have a 3 part article on Blue Lotus Explorations to send but frankly I have not had the time to write it all down. It was an equally remarkable experience. My dear fragrance mentor, Ramakant Harlalka, has done a remarkable work with this exquisitely beautiful aromatic plant. He has become finely tuned to its inner feelings and the story which it has to tell and so I think you will enjoy the updated report on our adventures with this lovely fragrant treasure of the botanical world. Maybe next week I will have a chance to start writing about it.

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  • Visit to Maharashtra, Blue Lotus 2

    The journey into the land of the lotus ponds inspired me to move deeper into the project. The basic commitment was already present but seeing the great beauty of this amazing plant close up, as well as witnessing the dedication of Philip and his staff to the project, gave me the final inspirational push.In the months to come Philip was able to extract many pink lotus blossoms as ponds containing them were easier to access than the ones we had visited containing white lotus. By the end of 1998 I had a sufficient quantity on hand to begin offering this precious essence to my customers. It was to our knowledge the first authentic lotus absolute to be offered in the West.

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  • Visit to Maharashtra, Blue Lotus 3

    After returning from the deep and special trip to Assam, Ramakant had kindly arranged for my being able to observe each and every phase of the work he had been doing with the blue lotus blossom for the past several years. After a day’s rest in Bombay, we traveled to his extracting and distillation units north of the city. It had been some time since I had made the journey and it was amazing to see the difference a couple of years had made in travel conditions in India.

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  • Eucalyptus

    Winter is to me one of the really precioius times of life. Several memorable events have happened during that time which have left an indelible impression on my heart.
    When I was about 19 years old I passed(as many people do) through a particularly hard time and felt as if my life was a barren waste land with no direction and meaning. It was a time of deep despair and sorrow. I came back to my home town, Davis, California after a short stay at a Zen Center on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Just before that I had dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon. It was to say the least a tumultous time. One day I was out for a long walk. It was a crisp cool winter’s day. The trees were naked and bare and one could see the telephone wires stretching from pole to pole. My attention was drawn upward towards the wires for on them were perched many small birds singing gloriously in the still air. In that moment I knew that my life had changed and all would be well. Those small birds and their sweet song-those innocent small winged creatures who did not have a home or even regular food to eat were yet filled with a pure song that made my own heart realize that life is rich for the person who has the eyes to see it even if they do not have much in the way of outer possessions.

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