Newsletters

2004

  • Incense in Literature

    The graceful and quiet season of the year is treasured by us along with all the other seasons. It is a time of celebration as well: celebrating the simplicity and sweetness that reveals itself when outer forms are reduced to their essential form as happens when the trees lose their leaves and their elegant forms stand out in their pristine beauty. We enjoy as well the winter storms, followed by crystal clear days, and the occasional snow that wraps Port Angeles. The shortened days and the long nights also have their charm. The natural flow of the day encourages one to slow down and reflect upon the precious life that has been given and this in turn encourages to use our remaining years in a more considerate way.

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  • Copaiba Balsam

    Copaiba balsam is an oleoresin obtained from certain Amazonian species of Copaifera. Although distillation of the oleoresin provides an essential oil, the term “copaiba oil” is sometimes also applied to the oleoresin itself, since the crude material occurs naturally in a very liquid form. Crude copaiba balsam is a clear, pale yellow oil which darkens and becomes less fluid on prolonged storage or exposure to air. It is employed by the fragrance industry as a fixative in perfumes and in other products such as soaps.

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  • Helichrysum

    As normal I have endeavored to do a bit of internet research on this oil. This is a much abbreviated version of what I normally do but it may prove helpful to those who appreciate this oil. Helichyrsum italicum: I have personally loved its full bodied, sunny, rich odor for many years.

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  • Cultivated Agarwood

    Cultivated Agarwood’s olfactory characteristics are excellent. It has a very, very rich radiant and tenacious sweet precious woods bouquet with none of the smokiness sometimes found in the hydrodistilled oil from wild harvested material. The unique agarwood bouquet that forms the heart of all true agarwood oils is present in a sublime form. The oil from the wild harvested material is in an overall sense slightly more complex because the resin has had a chance to form over a period of 60 years whereas the resin from the cultivated trees has formed in 10-13 years.

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  • Ginger

    Fresh ginger and dried ginger are considered two different commodities. In fact, one author of an early ben cao (Chinese herbal) felt that they were so different that they must come from two different plants! The dried root is known as Gan-jiang. The fresh root is called Sheng-jiang.

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  • Spikenard Update

    We are just back from a quiet retreat-greatly refreshed. Today’s newsletter will be on Spikenard/Nardostachys jatamansi. I have been procuring the EcoCert Green Spikenard oil from Nepal as it is being ecologically harvested with systematic replanting of the roots. It is a superb oil with a rich history behind it.

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  • Myrrh

    Today’s newsletter is on Myrrh. Several years ago I started interacting with Professor Ermias Dagne of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and through his kind assistance I began a journey of discovery about myrrh, opoponax and frankincense as he had developed expertise in distilling them from fresh resin. It was from him that I began to appreciate how vast a difference there is between oils distilled from freshly harvested oleo-gum-resins and those that had been stored for many months(as is usually the case) Also he helped me understand how great are the varieties of odor to be found in different species of Frankincense-particularly Boswellia rivae, Boswellia neglecta and Boswellia papyrifera. Due to his focused efforts and assistance from Kew Gardens in UK he was able to correctly identify the different species of Boswellia found in Ethiopia and separately distill their oils. All in all he has done a remarkable work in the world of distillation of the oils coming from the above resins. Along with that he has been organically growing Citronella, Palmarosa, Eucalyptus citriodora and Lemongrass and distilling them at his units located at 8000 feet. These oils have a wonderful rich well rounded bouquet because of the great care they exercise in distilling at high altitudes.

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  • Blue Chamomile

    In June our restocking of organic and wild harvested essential oils began in earnest and now almost everything is restocked. I have been extending the sourcing contacts into new areas like Bosnia where some excellent distillation is going on of Pinus sylvestris/Scoth Pine, Abies alba/Silver Fir, Laurus nobilis/Grecian Laurel, Helichrysum italicum, Myrtus communis/Sweet Myrtle, etc. It is a very amazing thing to see what role aromatic plants are playing in the redevelopment of countries which have suffered through so many difficulties. We can never be thankful enough for the gifts the botancial world gives to us on many levels. At this point I am beginning to buy in 2-10 liter amounts of individual oils in an attempt to always have some of each oil in stock. It is not always easy to assess how much to procure of an individual oil because our customer base continues to grow steadily and the requirements of each small company or person vary considerably. We are also conscious of the fact that we have limitations as to how far our business can grow and do not want to overstep those natural parameters. As all of you know this balancing act is a true challenge but one that every small business has to face.

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  • English/Roman Chamomile

    Description of Common Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis):  low-growing plant, creeping or trailing, its tufts of leaves and flowers a foot high. The root is perennial, jointed and fibrous, the stems, hairy and freely branching, are covered with leaves which are divided into thread-like segments, the fineness of which gives the whole plant a feathery appearance. The blooms appear in the later days of summer, from the end of July to September, and are borne solitary on long, erect stalks, drooping when in bud. With their outer fringe of white ray-florets and yellow centres, they are remarkably like the daisy. There are some eighteen white rays arranged round a conical centre, botanically known as the receptacle, on which the yellow, tubular florets are placed- the centre of the daisy is, however, considerably flatter than that of the Chamomile.

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  • Angelica

    Angelica’s virtues are praised by old writers, and the name itself, as well as the folk-lore of all North European countries and nations, testify to the great antiquity of a belief in its merits.  In Couriand, Livonia and the low lakelands of Pomerania and East Prussia, wild-growing Angelica abounds; there, in early summer-time, it has been the custom among the peasants to march into the towns carrying the Angelica flower-stems and to offer them for sale, chanting some ancient ditty in Lettish words, so antiquated as to be unintelligible even to the singers themselves. The chanted words and the tune are learnt in childhood, and may be attributed to a survival of some Pagan festival with which the plant was originally associated. After the introduction of Christianity, the plant became linked in the popular mind with some archangelic patronage, and associated with the spring-time festival of the Annunciation. According to one legend, Angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague. Another explanation of the name of this plant is that it blooms on the day of Michael the Archangel (May 8, old style), and is on that account a preservative against evil spirits and witchcraft: all parts of the plant were believed efficacious against spells and enchantment. It was held in such esteem that it was called ‘The Root of the Holy Ghost.’

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  • Elemi

    I had a bit of time today to work up a brief monograph on Elemi/Cananarium luzonicum. As all of you know the world is a vast place with many unique botanicals growing in each country. In this life few of us will have the opportunity to see all of the aromatic trees, vines, herbs, flowers, etc that so kindly grace this earth. We can come close to some though and through contact with them in their living form we can gain a tremendous amount of respect for all the others that we may never meet and know so intimately. The chord of sympathetic and appreciative understanding is a powerful one and often we need to depend upon it to gain insight into the mysteries surrounding a particular plant and its essence. Those of you who read these small monographs come from many different aromatic disciplines and possess far greater insights into the multifaceted dimensions of these fragrant gems than I do. So the information presented here is far from authoritative. It is shared simply for your enjoyment. Take from it what is useful to you and leave the rest.

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  • Indian Frankincense

    All around us nature’s eloquent voice is heard in form of her botanical treasures. The rich textures, colors, aromas, and forms of her herbs, vines, shrubs, trees and flowers-speak to us of a beauty that has existed for hundreds and thousands of years. If by good fortune we can slow down enough to appreciate the grand mystery of life revealed in these quiet denizens of the natural world then our hearts possess a type of wealth that cannot be purchased for millions or billions of dollars. Gratitude and appreciation are qualities that illuminate our path through life and help us to fine meaning even in the midst of great sadness and difficulty. The plants that surround us are quiet helpers that help us realize that life holds out to us a gentle hand to help us find joy in simplicity.

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