Monday, June 22, 2009

Herbal Tea Notes

Energy Herbal Tea, originally uploaded by Thorsten (TK).

Energy Herbal Tea, originally uploaded by Thorsten (TK).

Although not strictly “tea” herbal teas are part of the tea experience – sipping plant-infused hot water. While the effect on the mind is a little different than with the energizing tea leaves (depending on the type of herbal tea), I have witnessed herbal tea drinkers turn this experience into a sort of a ritual. Therefore too me these notes are also strongly associated with tea.

Spearmint is the minty component in Moroccan mint tea. Fresh sprigs of spearmint are added to gunpowder tea, and generously sweetened with sugar. Perhaps it is by association as well that I chose to include spearmint as a tea note. But it really does register in my mind as “tea”. Comparing to peppermint, spearmint is much more round, sweet, smooth and warm. I never get bored with its fragrance, and find it perfect not only with tea and herbal tea notes, but also with florals. It really brings out the greenness and light heartedness in jasmine.

Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla/Lippia citriodora/Verbena citriodora) is one of the most uplifting and beautiful perfumes in the world in my mind, a scent I grew up with and always feel like home when I smell it. It scent had a profound impact on my life. It was through the experience of helping a family in my village in verbena harvest (they owned an organic herbal tea company) that I got my most significant inspiration to find my path in perfumery. Although native to South America, it has found it’s way to Spain and from there to North Africa (similarly to spearmint, lemon verbena is very popular addition to tea leaves in Morocco). Lemon verbena has a lemony characteristics (citral makes about 30-35% of the composition of its essential oil) but also floral and rosy due to the presence of nerol (neroli-like) and geraniol (rosy).

This tropical lemon scented grass will always remind me of tea because growing up in Clil, we always picked this fresh from the garden to brew our herbal teas (along with lemon verbena – see above).

Clary Sage
The shared characteristics with bergamot (linalyl acetate) may create an association with Earl Gray tea. But also, if used in very low dilutions, clary sage adds a green, tea-like nuance to light fragrances such as citrusy colognes.

Rosemary Absolute

Herbaceous yet warm and sweet, rosemary absolutes is about the closest you can get to fresh sprigs of rosemary brewed in warm water. It is not as camphoreous and sharp as the essential oil.

Rose Geranium
Although very floral, since these are the leaves, I decided to include rose geranium in this category of tea notes. Rosy and green all at once, with minty and even camphoreous nuances, rose geranium can add a full-bodied, fruity yet tea-like aspect in perfume. Of course the context is everything… Some like to brew the fresh leaves with herbal teas or in addition to black tea.

Next: Flowering Teas



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