Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tea Journal: Nine Bend Black Dragon

Tea Journal
As my tea journey continues, I refine my observations of relatively similar teas and find subtle differences that all of a sudden make them seem more special and different from one another.

I'm always puzzled as to the names that Chinese choose for their teas. They seem so far-fetched from what they seem to be. Wilted little leaves with names such as "Golden Monkey", "Snow Dragon" and even "White Peony" often leave me puzzled. One must have a very developed sense of imagination to come up with such names!

I'm still uncertain as to the origin of "Nine Bend Black Dragon", but perhaps it has something to do with its blackness, which is because the leaves are fermented prior to firing them. In any case, the dry leaf is medium-small black shoots with occasional golden or yellow tip. Their scent is of roasted grain, dry grass, with slightly malty undertones. It reminded me of roasted pumpkin or butternut squash!

The infused leaf turns into a tawny & olive green unfurled leaf, with some twigs. The leaf seems to be broken during its process. The scent is true to the dry leaf - roasted pumpkin or grain. There is a slight floral fresh undertone to it.

The liquor is reddish brown and bright. It has a sour, roasted grain scent. It's flavour is sour in the beginning. It dries the tip of the tongue and tastes very similar to hojicha (roasted Japanese green tea). I'm personally not fond of hojicha, but this tea is not bad, and the dry first impression improves in the back of the mouth where it is experienced as sweet!

Pairing suggestions: I can't get over the association of roasted butternut, so to me it has an immediate "fall" association. I would serve this with dinner of sage-roasted roots and vegetables (yams, Jerusalem artichokes, butternut squash, portobello mushroom), brown rice pilaf and spicy vegetable stew or even a curry. I can't really think of it as a dessert tea without going the pumpkin pie route... And I probably would do just that!

Blending notes: I doubt that I would personally use it in any of my tea blends; but because of its pumpkin association, it might work well in pumpkin-spice themed chai, along with a smoother Assam tea, for instance.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Potion Bar in The Vancouver Sun

White Potion, the new fragrant chocolate I created with CocoaNymph was featured in The Vancouver Sun! Read the article by food critic Mia Stainsby:
The Chanel of chocolate bars for Christmas stockings

News from the Nose: Winter White Gift Guide 2011

Dear Fragrant Friends:

Christmas and Chanukah are less than a month away! To make the season special and cozy, we have concocted wonderful white-themed treats for you to enjoy and savour this winter.

Wrap yourself with cozy Zangvil, our new cozy ginger & amber fragrance for both men & women, and sip some Zangvil tea - a fine tea experience that can be re-infused up to 7 times! You'll love sharing it with family and friends as you gather around the fire!

And last but not least - we also create a new winter-white chocolate bar: White Potion. It's the perfect size to satisfy the chocoholic's wildest dreams, and small enough to fit in a greeting card and mailed in a hurry.

Shop early this holiday season, and enjoy free shipping through December 2nd!

Zangvil Fragrance
Our new perfume this winter is loved by men and women, and is cozy as a cashmere sweater on a snowy day

Zangvil Perfumed Tea
Fine white tea pscented with jasmine, vanilla, ambrette and crystallized ginger. Each 50gr tin in will brew at least 175 cups of tea to share with loved ones.

White Potion Fragrant Chocolate Bar
White chocolate with coconut milk, toasted almonds and tuberose! The popular truffle flavour can now be shipped with ease!

Mini Wardrobe Trio
Perfect for travel any time of the year!

Jade Poison Ring
Green Mexican Jade. vintage poison ring from Taxco, Mexico. Collectible piece! Adjustable size that fits most fingers makes for a perfect gift!

One Of A Kind Eau de Parfums
Enjoy a scent that is all your own! Bottled in our new splash/spray bottles, choose from Incense & Chocolate, Vetiver Blanc, and more.

Cozy Winter Mini Coffret
Your choice of 8 wintery scents, presented as little gems in a jewelry case.

Bois d'Hiver Travel Candle
Bring the forest wonders into your home with Canadian fir and orange blossom!

And for those in the Greater Vancouver area, we have just a few more private holiday shopping events I'm participating in:
Mindan's House Sale December 3rd 12-7pm
House of Jewels Holiday Soiree December 8th 4-9pm
Portobello West December 10 & 11 11am-5pm
Ayala's Holiday Cocktail Party + Customer Appreciation Night December 15, 4-10pm
And there are more details on upcoming workshops as well on our Events Calendar

Please note Canada Post's shipping deadlines to ensure your package arrives on time:

  • USA: orders shipped Xpresspost to the USA by December 16th are guaranteed to arrive by Christmas (about $25 for most orders - heavier items might cost more). After that, we'll have to courier it to you.
  • CANADA: Regular parcels will arrive in time if shipped no later than December 12th. Orders shipped Xpresspost within Canada by December 21st. Courier will make it on time as long as order is shipped on December 22nd.
  • INTERNATIONAL: orders must be sent by Xpresspost by December 6th; or by December 17th via EMS or courier to make it in time for Christmas

Happy Holidays!


Restock Contemplations

We're 2 years into The Great Recession, and we can definitely feel it getting deeper and stronger here in Canada. The holiday season is just not what it used to be. I live in the midst of Vancouver's most packed shopping district (Robson street), which is normally where everyone shops till they drop till at least 9pm at this time of the year. The shops are open late, but the streets are empty. I'm not seeing people with shopping bags either, and whenever I step into a shop I get so much attention it's almost overwhelming. When I go to the post office (and I'm thankful I still need to go there at least once a week), there is no lineup, ever; and I hear that it was no different the rest of the day. It's just me, and maybe a couple of folks picking up an early Christmas gift in the mail from Europe or Asia. That's about it.

Of course, in many ways, this could be great news: less consumerism, less waste, and more focus on the real values of the winter holidays (whichever ones you celebrate, they pretty much were invented for the same reason - the decline of light and the cold weather). The winter holidays were all about getting people together to support each other in the coldest and darkest days of the year, and only recently we got too greedy and it turned to be about things, not about people, and shopping has gone way out of control. The lineups you'd see on Robson street on Boxing Day were a frightening sight. I'm curious to watch and see if they'll be anything close this year.

In other ways, it's just not doing it for small businesses. People get what they need where and when it's cheap. Discount sites, which slash the retail price by at least half, and than give only half of what the customer pays to the business providing the services or goods, are becoming the norm. "Deals" are not enough anymore. People won't buy unless it's a "steal". And yes, it sorta is, if the business giving didn't calculate their offer very carefully.

As a small business owner, who gets most of my supplies in smaller quantities (read: not quite at a wholesale rate), this situation is becoming risky and dangerous. Slashing the price in half is ok, but slashing it into 4 is as good as committing business suicide on the spot. I always did my very best to keep the prices reasonable for my customers. If I were to set my prices more realistically, they would probably be at least double of what they are listed for at the present moment. And only very few people could afford them. The profit margin based on the prices you see on my website are allowing it to be sold wholesale, but there is no room for any other middlemen Keep in mind that distributors usually take at least 30% of the wholesale price. If I were to go this route, at the present prices I offer on my website, that would leave me with nothing to run the business, let alone pay myself for doing all the work. Unless, of course, I were to charge a lot more for my products.

With all that being said, obviously a business person has to reinvent itself if it wants to survive. I'm not really sure if I'm a business woman anymore, because a lot of the decisions I've made in the past seem utterly unrealistic now. For example - giving customers all the choices (about 50 fragrances in the line), and all the ancillary products, which take a lot of work and required a lot of effort for creating their own packaging. Suddenly, having all these scents does not seem necessary anymore. And if a product hasn't sold for relatively long time, I'm simply not going to create it again. So I'm anticipating some major re-structuring of my current line, and truly discontinuing scents that haven't been too popular, even if I think they are one of my masterpieces. I just don't have the resources (space, time and money) for producing them for the 3 and a half folks that love them. And it's not that I don't care about you and don't want you to smell good and have your favourite scent theoretically, at some point in the future when you want to re-stock - but that means me buying some materials especially and only for this particular perfume. And that I cannot do unless there is enough demand for it. It's the harsh reality.

So there are a few things that are going to have to go, and they will once this holiday season is over. The body products will be the first to go. As much as everyone were begging for them, and thought (or at least said) they are great, and loved them when they first came out - I'm not seeing this translate into the shelves clearing fast enough to justify the production. Not to mention having large jars of them taking up my storage space, not to mention carting them to the many trunk shows and Christmas fairs I'm doing this season. I'll keep making them for myself, because nothing makes me happier than my own concoction of sugar scrubs and soaking in a fragrant salt bath with the very scent I've always dreamed of bathing in. But they will remain something I do for myself and my friends only, not for any commercial volumes.

On another positive note, I'm hoping that my new teas will be as well received in the future as they have been these past 2 weekends. The Zangvil tea is all my own original recipe and is packaged in the new tea packaging, which is a 50gr size (but will be different weights for each tea). I've already blended a small batch of 4 tins of Charisma and it weighs 150gr per tin. It is lovely and although the small tins are sold out and Charisma tea is not on the website any longer - it will be shortly - once I've got some photographs taken of the new packaging.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We're in Alltop!

So excited to find out that SmellyBlog has finally made it to Alltop perfume blogs.

Thank you for your readership and continuous support. I'm looking forward to more blogging time next week, after this weekend's Portobello West holiday market is over.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tea Journal: Ying Ming

Tea Journal Page 1
Last week I've began a tea tasting journal, and this is the first page of it!
Now that the Zangvil tea is ready, I have to prepare for the re-launch of my other teas. I'm reformulating them, as the tea master who created the other teas for me has moved on to doing other things. This gives me the opportunity to deepen my understanding and appreciation for teas. And since my next big undertaking is reformulating Roses et Chocolat tea, I figured I'll start with black China teas.

There is a bit of a disagreements between cultures as to the colours of teas. What we call in the West "black" is called "red" by the Chinese, who discovered the tea and invented most of the methods known to us now for harvesting, processing (oxidizing, rolling, fermenting...) and perfuming tea leaves.

We call red tea "black" because we refer to the tea leaves before infusion. The Chinese call it red based on the tawny reddish colour they develop after being steeped. True black teas will take on a black colour after steeping - for example: Pu-erh tea, which is fully fermented, and actually improves with age, like a fine wine. I find this fascinating!

I began my journal with the first page you are seeing here, and have decided to begin with Ying Ming tea. Although tea tasting requires observing the appearance of the dry leaf, infused leaf (how it looks after being wet) and the colour of the liquor (the "tea" beverage itself) - I will focus what I share here with you on the aroma and fragrance of tea. I have to say though, that I'm immensely enjoying the visual aspects of tea tasting, and have also created colour swatches with watercolour to record the various colours of liquor!

Tea Colour Swatches
I was a bit weary yet curious to start with black teas (or red, if you wish), as I don't particularly enjoy them without milk. But I was pleasantly surprised to find interesting and intriguing subtleties to these black teas, and I'm learning a lot!

Ying Ming is fro Yunnan province in China, where it is grown in high altitudes and harvested in the moist and cool months of March and April. Supposedly, these conditions account for the tea's pronounced sweetness. It does have bitter back notes though (see my tasting notes below), so it is acceptable to serve it with a sweetener.

Dry leaf smells complex, tobacco-like, tannin but with sweetness that is subtle - reminiscent of hay and flowers, and hints of blueberry.

Infused leaf smells warm, round, fruity tobacco and berry-like with hints of cacao and earthy sweetness.

Liquor smells warm, brown, sweet, very typical "black tea" smell, but without the flat, tannin notes that I've encountered with poorer quality and bagged teas etc.

The taste is sweet and mellow in the mouth, a little tannin, and bitter and dry aftertaste.

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Zangvil Tea in the Making

Zangvil Tea Tin + Journal

Mission accomplished!
Zangvil tea was launched on Sunday, at long last... That was quite a journey discovering white tea and perfecting the tea formula (the first version of which I served at the Spring Welcoming Tea Ceremony during my Hanami Tea Party in March 2009).

The tea turned out beautiful if I may say so myself, and I'm absolutely smitten with the new label design, as well as the clean looking tea tins (they are all white!). Tea is an experience that incorporates all the senses - the sound of the water simmering and pouring, the look of the leaf (dry and infused), the colour of the liquor, the scent emanating from the dry and infused leaf and, of course, from the cup of tea itself - and last but not least - the taste and the texture of the tea in the mouth.

Crystallized Ginger

Last week, I made the 1st batch of Zangvil tea - only 8 tins to be exact. It was a fun yet not easy at all task, the toughest part was certainly slicing the vanilla beans. Even the candied ginger had to be minced into smaller cubes for best infusion results. Below you can see all the components of the tea after weighing but before being blended and packaged.

Blending Zangvil Tea
Zangvil tea is made of silver needle white tea perfumed with jasmine flowers (you'll find some petal bits and pieces scattered around), crystallized ginger, vanilla bean and ambrette seeds. It produces a very light, clear liquor (only slightly yellow) with shimmering silver plume floating in the water in the first 2-4 steepings, which gives it a very subtle and pretty effect. To fully enjoy that, serve in clear or white tea cups only!

It can (and should!) be infused up to 7 times to fully experience its subtle comlexity and richness. The floral jasmine and peachy white tea notes are most prominent in the first 3 infusions. After that, the ginger and vanilla and ambrette seed linger on. The latter linger all the way into the 7th steeping, with subtly balsamic, nutty aroma with a hint of sweetness and very smooth mouthfeel.

It is best served on its own, and should be sipped when its slightly cooled off. A pure treat on its own, but also wonderful when served with small, nutty desserts such as halva, almond pastries, white chocolate, and poached pear (for more serving ideas, see my Zangvil tea party menu).

Each tea tin costs $30, and contains 50gr of Zangvil tea blend; which should get you at least through 25 tea parties of your own. And if you were to take full advantage of the re-steeping potential, you will get at least 175 cups of tea out of this tin. That's a lot of tea!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Sights and Textures from the Zangvil Tea Party


For those of you who missed the Zangvil tea party - here are some photos that will I hope you will find inspiring for creating your own wintery tea party this holiday season!

The assembly of desserts (except for the whipping cream that joined the midst of the pears only later on).
You can also see snowballs (or Mexican wedding cakes), orange-ginger icebox cookies, halva, and barks of the new White Potion chocolate bar!

Setting up the desserts in eikcam's handcrafted and painted birch pottery. Get into the winter mood with rustic style bypassing cliches.

White Brownies & Ginger Marshmallows
White chocolate brownies with sour cream frosting. I the background - CocoaNymph's ginger marshmallows that topped the steaming chai we cooked!
And the lovely tea tumblers by eikcam - each has a different emblem - so it's quite easy to remember which cup is yours!

Zangvil Tea Party Sandwiches
Tea sandwiches:

Asian Pear + Cheddar + Quince Mustard tea sandwiches

Orange +Fennel + Tarragon Tea Sandwiches

Kabu + Yuzu Tea Sandwiches

The Carrot + Ginger proved to be unnecessary for this very full menu... We had enough ginger already anyway ;-)

I've also served freshly baked cheese & chive scones, but they were gone before I had a chance to snap a photo!

Zangvil tea + White Potion chocolate bar

So excited about the new (4th) fragrant chocolate bar that we launched this weekend!

The White Potion white chocolate bar was created together with Rachel Sawatzky of CocoaNymph, and has white chocolate, vanilla beans, roasted almonds, toasted coconut, and... tuberose essence! It's amazing and not to sweet at all :-)

As for the Zangvil tea - it's the first time I'm launching that is all my doing. I've designed the tea, a perfumed tea which is so fragrant and can be infused up to 7 times!

Silver needle jasmine white tea
Ambrette seeds
Sliced vanilla beans
Cryztallized ginger

I'm very happy with how the new labels turned out as well. All the tea labels are going to be re-done, and the teas will be relaunched in the springtime.

Zangvil Tea Components

Zangvil tea demo - 3 types of white tea and the other ingredients that make my new Zangvil tea!

Red Bartletts
A word about the poached pears: I felt like a genius finding this underaged pears at the Winter Market. If it wasn't for their lack of desire to reach full pear size, I would have had to serve them cut into cubes (shame on their seductive shape!) or as spoon dessert (which defeats the whole purpose of a tea party). Little Asian pears also work well for the same purpose.

Ginger Marshmallows
Handmade ginger marshmallows (by CocoaNymph, naturally!), that we served with the homemade chai. Already a winter favourite!

Birch Vases
And last but not least - the birch vases, so wintery and festive in a twisted way... I think I might just need to keep them here at the studio - they are a perfect match to the pussy willows I keep year-around.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Zangvil Is Here!

Zangvil Perfume Launch

Dear Fragrant Friends,

Winter is fast approaching, and to keep us all cozy, calm and content during this holiday season, I've concocted Zangvil perfume and white tea. This Sunday, 20.11.2011, we'll celebrate Zangvil's debut at the studio with a winter-white tea party, which is also the perfect occasion to lauch White Potion chocolate bar - our 4th fragrant chocolate with CocoaNymph - fashioned after the White Potion perfume (and truffles!). We are almost full - but still have a couple of teacups waiting for you!

In this newsletter:

  1. Introducing: Zangvil!
  2. Zangvil White Tea
  3. Zangvil Triple Launch Tea Party 20.11.2011
  4. White Potion Chocolate: 4th Fragrant Bar with CocoaNymph
  5. In The Media: LA Times Magazine
  6. Recipe: Blue Plum & Almond Torte (Gluten Free)
  7. Winter Events
  8. Postal Deadlines for Christmas
Read the rest of the newsletter here.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Made to Order!

Bridal Stagette Perfume Making Party

New at Ayala Moriel Parfums - Made To Order Custom Perfume!
Tell us what your favourite notes are, and we will make you a One-Of-A-Kind perfume that is all your own!

This is a wonderful way for you to get creative, express yourself and make your dream perfume come true, with your favourite notes.

When placing an order for these perfumes - email us with your favourite notes you want to include in the perfume, and the name you'd like to call it.

Your perfume will be ready 4-6 weeks later, and we will only make it for you. It will be bottled in our 15ml splash/spray bottles (as in the picture above), and labeled with your own name on it, or you can name your own perfume as you wish!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Zangvil Perfume Debuts 20.11.2011

Zangvil Perfume Launch

Zangvil perfume will debut exactly a week from today!
This perfume evolved out of a sensory journey that began in 2008. I was feeling under the weather, and a cup of steaming ginger tea simply didn't cut it; so I put together a simple ginger & amber perfume to warm me up from the inside. So it made perfect sense that 3 years later, Zangvil also has a perfume twin to match - a delicate silver needle white tea perfumed with jasmine sambac and further fragranced with aromatic ambrette seed and vanilla bean and crystallized ginger.

The above image is the postcard for the Zangvil perfume, and it's the first time I'm using a human image for illustrating a perfume concept. I usually try to stay away from human figures because I feel it takes away from the personal experience of the perfume itself, and if anything, will make it look like a cheap perfume ad. With Zangvil perfume, however, it seemed there was no other way around (unless I was going with the sexy ginger below!).

Naked Ginger

However, using ingredients or botanical landscape for illustrating just did not seem to be right for Zangvil. This perfume is all about the tactile world - the cozy and warming touch of cashmere wool and its soft caress on the skin. I wanted the image to radiate softness and a subtle sensuality, just as the perfume does. I really wanted to show the contrast of skin against wool or fur. Yet I didn't really want it to be too sexual in the cheesy way that mainstream perfume commercials tend to be (though, admittedly, if you put a bottle image in front of any semi-nude image it will look like a perfume ad).

Also, because Zangvil is a unisex fragrance, I wanted both men and women to relate to it (not necessarily feel attraction to the figure, but rather identify with the sensation of the wool against the soft skin); and I wanted the gender of the model to be somewhat ambiguous, focusing on the rippling of the back muscles and the soft diffusion of light on the surface of the skin and the tiny hairs and goosebumps... The original concept for the photograph was just an area of skin and fur or wool next to each other. But through the photography process, we had to include larger areas of skin, because without a suggestion of a breathing body, skin actually looks rather gruesome and lifeless.

And speaking of skin - the back of the postcard, which tells the story behind Zangvil and details about the notes is printed in multi-coloured fonts in the various shades of the skin photographed for the front; which when isolated from the context (aka light and shadows on skin) looks like a palette of various skin colours.

So, exactly a week from today, I will be hosting an event that celebrates the tactile softness of ginger and amber in teh Zangvil perfume - with a tea party menu that is derived from the perfume, and focuses on white and muted coloured food with exquisite texture (see more details about the tea party in the previous post).

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Zangvil Triple Launch Tea Party 20.11.2011 - One Week Away!

Zangvil Perfumed Tea

On 20.11.2011 (Which turns to be quite an auspicious number that adds up to 8 = infinity!) Ayala Moriel will be celebrating 3 magical creations:

Zangvil perfume, Zangvil tea and a new white chocolate bar (the flavour is still a secret!) that we've created in collaboration with CocoaNymph!

Come celebrate with us in this festive, winter-white afternoon tea party. To add to the magic, we will be serving the tea and the treats in beautiful earthenware hand crafted by artist Grace Lee of eikcam.

Launching Ayala Moriel's new perfume, Zangvil and matching perfumed tea that Ayala created and is based on a rare beauty: jasmine scented white tea, along with other delicious botanicals, to create a perfume in a cup!
Rachel Sawatzky & I will also finally share with you our 4th collaboration: a white chocolate bar! The flavour will be a surprise - any guesses? ;-)

3:00-3:45pm - Zangvil: Tactile Fragrance & The Wonders of Synesthesia

Presenting Zangvil perfume & tea and discussing the intriguing phenomenon of synesthesia, and how this perfume aims to bring together all the senses.

4pm - Private Sale

All perfumes, candles, jewelry, bath & body products, teas and chocolates will be offered for sale, and also you could buy the eikcam's earthenware that you've been served with.


Sunday, November 20th, 1-5pm


1pm - Arrival
3pm - Presentation of
Zangvil - Tactile Fragrance & The Wonders of Synesthesia + Tea Tasting
4pm - Private sale


#314-1230 Haro Street, Buzz #295

How to get here:

No. 5 Robson bus
SkyTrain (both Burrard Stn. and Vancouver City Centre) are walking distance from here.
If you arrive by car, there is an underground parking lot at the Blue Horizon Hotel on Robson.


Winter-white fragrant hand made tea treats will be served on eikcam's beautiful hand made earthenware and fine porcelain.

1st Tier: Sandwiches & Savouries

Ginger + Carrot Tea Sandwiches
Kabu + Yuzu Tea Sandwiches
Asian Pear + White Cheddar Tea Sandwiches
Fennel + Orange Tea Sandwiches

2nd Tier: Scones etc.

Pumpkin & Fresh Ginger Scones served with Devonshire Cream & Orange Marmalade

3rd Tier: Desserts

Snowball Cookies
Ginger + Tangerine Icebox Cookies w/Ginger Glaze
Poached Pear in White Wine & Fresh Ginger
White Chocolate "Brownies" + Sour Cream Icing
Chocolate Cups with Ambrette Seed Ganache
Halva with Pistachios
New Surprise White Chocolate Bar!!!

Teas & Libations:

Zangvil (perfumed white tea)
Chai Tea
CocoaNymph's Hot Chocolate + Marshmallows

RSVP by phone (778) 863-0806 or email

Tickets are $12 online to guarantee your spot (we only have room for 30 guests) - or $20 at the door

And for those of you far away - the chocolate will be up for sale on the website next week, and for now, you're invited to guess which perfume inspired this bar! The only hint is that it is a white chocolate bar :-)

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Incense & Chocolate

Chocolate Smoke

The sensual world connects between the physical and the spiritual. It is with mindful observation of sight, touch, taste, sound and scent that we are able to connect to the world's divine beauty and discover the divinity that lies within us and pulsates through the universe.

Incense & Chocolate is a perfume that combines elements of two ancient rituals of offerings - burning of incense, and drinking a sacred beverage (hot cocoa, consecrated wine, etc.) as offering to the gods. In ancient Mexico, where chocolate originated, it used to be only the king who was allowed to drink cocoa, and otherwise it was offered to Quetzalcoatl, the god of cacao.

In our modern life, those little rituals that are often viewed as over-indulgences and are immersed in guilt, self criticism or worries about being judged by others - might in fact just be our little gesture towards our ancestors who were wiser than us with their choice of daily routines (for example: burn incense and meditate in the morning before checking their email... oh, wait, there was no email then!) and our way to connect to earth and ground ourselves in the modern world where almost everything turned virtual and disconnected reality.

Incense & Chocolate is a perfume that combines elements of two ancient rituals of offerings - burning of incense, and drinking a sacred beverage (hot cocoa, consecrated wine, etc.) as offering to the gods. I created it this summer, inspired by the two daily rituals I noticed have become important little moments each day: burning Japanese incense, which seems to calm me down and centre me, and savouring dark chocolate - that literally nourished my body, as well as my soul. I know it sounds very dramatic, but I really don't think I would have survived this summer without chocolate...

So exhale all your worries, uncork this bottle of magic and breath in the aroma of dark chocolate, olibanum, prehistoric fossilized amber resin and oud.

Incense & Chocolate is a One Of A Kind perfume - I created only one bottle of it, and the person who picks it first will be the only person I will create it for again in the future. It is bottled in our new EDP splash/spray bottles.

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Favourite End Of Fall Fragrances


Fall is coming to a close any day now, and it's time to make a list!
While these are not necessarily what I'm wearing this particular fall, they are what I would consider my autumn staples and what I would recommend to invoke the season of fallen leaves, harvest and shortening days, when more than anything else I want to curl by the fireplace with a Noire book and a dense perfume that reminds me of the golden days of Hollywood in the 30's and 40's.

Looking at previous years' fall lists I've made, I'm noticing a pattern in my choices. There is always something Chypre, something woody, something smoky and something spicy in my fall perfume favourites. So here are a few suggestions:

Something Woody:
I've been wearing Hinoki more often than ever (and find it especially appropriate when trying my hand at practicing martial arts...).

Mitsouko - a chypre that defies categorization, but certainly has more woody qualities than most. The haunting of contrasts is probably what makes Mitsouko timeless and never boring. This zen-meets-baroque perfume is luxurious, yet as sparse as a monk's dorm; woody and dry yet cradles a tender sweetness therein, and I can continue on and on, but the main question remains - how can any fall list not include Mitsouko?!

Bois des Îles is another favourite fall of mine - and I'm also enjoying a similar perfume, that shares the woodsy creaminess of sandalwood paired with the understated sensuality and elegance of vintage-glam aldehydes that makes you think of pearls and beige nubok. I'm talking about Champagne de Bois by Sonoma Scent Studio.

Something Chypre:
Ma Griffe - after years of loyalty to Miss Dior, the epitome of animalic-floral chypres tinged with green, it was time to find another green chypre. I spotted a pre-IFRA regulated version (from days of yore, when there was no requirements of listing any allergens on the ingredients list). It's very vintage-y, and if comparing to Miss Dior - it has more of a white floral and musky nuances to it, which remind me a bit of Chant d'Aromes. It also has more of a citrusy burst and it's more aldehydic and powdery than Miss Dior. I should get around to write a full review of it next week.

1000 de Patou also seems to hit the spot on the shortening days, reminding me of icy, frost-spiked leaves with its intriguing osmanthus and eucalyptus notes. Melancholy, elegant and old-fashioned, it reminds me of scouring my grandmother's dresser and colourful strands of tropical seashells and Amazonian bead necklaces.

Something Smoky:
from burning leaves and Lapsang Suchong tea to leather bound books, smoky notes are one of those things that make fall so mysterious that even if you're not traveling you feel you're going on an adventure... This fall, my love for smoky, leathery notes is replaced by a craving for incense, which I burn at least once daily. And I've just received a package of Japanese Kyara incense sticks - there is nothing short of magical about burning them, the scent changes after a few centimeters of stick have turned into ashes. Also, I've been enjoying the depth of Sonoma Scent Studio's Incense Pure, with its depth and complexity of tobacco paired with powdery tonka, rustic immortelle and sweet amber.

Something Spicy:
I've been deeply immersed in the Clarimonde project and wearing the oriental-spicy violet perfume I've created for it more than anything else in the past month. Oriental perfumes truly did originate in the orient, where spices such as cloves, cassia and star anise were pulverized into a fine powder and blended with fragrant resins and woods such as camphor, sandalwood and agarwood to create fine perfumes for rituals of both religion and seduction. Body incense is still popular in Japan, where it originally was used to purify one's hands before entering a temple; but also powder perfumes were used to scent a Geisha's hair. Aftelier's Shiso is based on such a Geisha formula, and is a remarkably authentic in the ingredients it uses and the intense and immediate effect it has on my mood - transporting me instantly into dimly lantern-lit rooms separated with fusuma and lined with tatami mats. Shiso is intense, deep and camphoreous, tinged with eugenolic spice and aldehydic shiso herb.

And last but not least - combining sugar and spice, is the haunting Un Crime Exotique - a gourmand that walks the tightrope between French patisserie and an Asian soup broth.

What are you favourite end of fall fragrances?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Clearing my Dresser

I'm clearing my perfume dresser from excessive perfumes (so little skin time pour moi). They are listed on Basenotes, but if you're not a member there - here's what I've got and hope to find someone who will love and wear them!
Shipping is
Agent Provocatuer purse size 30ml, beautiful bottle, completely full and brand new (not boxed though as it came in a set of 3) $30
Chaman's Party by Olivia Giacobetti for Honore de Pres - Wonderful smoky vetiver, 100% natural & certified organic (100ml glass bottle, no box, 90% full) $65
Aqaba - 50ml (95% full) in straw box (though it is a bit wrecked), beautiful, classic oriental! $45 *PENDING*
Bond No, 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory travel spray 10ml sprayed twice $20 *SOLD*
Ormonde Jayne Tiare EDP travel spray 10ml sprayed 4 times $20
Something About Sofia (Benefit) 30ml cute & adorable bottle! NIB $15
Harajuku Lovers Sunshine Cuties ltd. edition Lil' Angel 10ml - adorable doll-shaped bottles NIB $15
Ralph Lauren Notorious 50ml NIB $20
Ralph Lauren Notorious mini NIB $5
Jo Malone Grapefruit Cologne 9ml new, full, no box $10
SJP Lovely EDP Shimmer Spray 50ml (90% full), boxed $20
3121 (Prince's perfume) 30ml, 50% full & in box - $5
Vintage!!! Laura Ashley No. 1 stopper bottle 30ml EDT, boxed and worn maybe x4. Beautiful, classy green floral $40 *SOLD*
MoroccanOil Luminous Hairspray Strong Flexible Hold - Brand New, never used 330ml $15
MoroccanOil Glimmer Shine Spray for all hair types BNIB never used 100ml $15
Deseo (JLo) 50ml in box 85% $25
Yves Rocher Monoi de Tahiti body spray 70% full $5
Un Jardin Apres La Mousson dry oil 100ml in box - 98% full $50
Yvresse by YSL 125ml EDT in box 98% full $40

Shipping is $10 for most orders world wide (the larger 50ml or 100ml bottles and the MoroccanOil hair products may be around $12-$15 though)

Email me ayala (at)

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Add A Little Sugar...

Back at the organ and Honeysuckle & Curry Leaf perfume... This song, with its impeccable tenderness is what plays in my head along the conceived scent... They honeysuckle is there alright. But not so much can be said for the coconut & curry leaf dessert. Still, it's a little too green, not quite creamy enough.
Add a little sugar?

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Clarimonde's Dream Pillow Reviews

The Clarimonde's Dream Pillow that I created for the Clarimonde Project was reviewed yesterday in the 7th installation at Indie Perfumes blog, and also in Scent Less Sensibilities' enticing tale titled Dreaming Venetian.

It's been a great privilege to partake in this project alongside such talents as Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Mandy Aftel, Deana Sidney, Alexis Karl and Maria McElroy.

I've made more sachets today, and will be sewing more pillows on demand as I make them all by hand. I can make only very few of them and for now they are only sold via my Facebook fanpage (click on the "Buy Now" tab on the left) and will be added to Etsy later in the week.
The perfume will be made available for sale later as well, I'm still working on label... It really deserves a different packaging than the rest of my creations.

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Butternut Squash & Sage Scones

I'm a sucker for pumpkins. If it wasn't for their humungous size, and my inability to store them properly after slashing them open, I would be making something with pumpkin every week. That's why I love butternut squashes so much: they are usually small enough that I can easily use them up even in my small household of two. In addition, they have less water content, more flavour, and a creamy texture that makes them versatile for both savoury and sweet dishes and pastries. The following recipe is adapted from The Joy of Baking pumpkin scones recipe (which is really good as well!).

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal (fine, not grits!)

2 Tbs light brown sugar

1/2 Tbs sage leaves, dried and rubbed (or 1 Tbs or fresh, chopped sage leaves)

1/4 tsp ground dry ginger

1/8 tsp Nutmeg, grated

1/4 tsp Allspice, ground

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/3 - 1/2 cup (80 - 120 ml) buttermilk

1/2 cup (120 ml) cooked and pureed butternut squash

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Egg Wash:

1 large egg

1 tablespoon milk or cream

How to:
- Preheat oven to 400F (200 C)

- Blend dry ingredients together

- Cut butter into dry ingredients

- Whisk the eggs and mix with the butternut squash and buttermilk

- Add to the dry ingredients and stir

- Knead briefly, just to form a soft, pliable dough. It should be soft but not too sticky (add flour if necessary)

- On a lightly floured surface, pat down or toll to about 4cm thick. Cut with a medium sized cookie cutter. It helps to dip the cookie cutter in flour in between scone-shaping.

- Place the cut out scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.

- Brush with egg and milk mixture. Sprinkle with allspice, some sugar and a hint of nutmeg.

- Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick insterted in the middle comes out clean.

These scones are quite versatile in how they can be enjoyed - if you want them for an afternoon tea with other sweets, serve with Devonshire cream and a peach or apricot jam, orange marmalade or light honey.

For dinner or lunchtime, they make an excellent accompaniment for a hearty soup; or as a snack of their own with a slice of sharp cheese.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Eau Naturel in LA Times Magazine

Read "Eau Naturel" - article about natural perfumery in LA Times Magazine, by journalist and crime-novelist (and perfumista!) Denise Hamilton (The Jasmine Trade, Damage Control).
The chart of natural-to-synthetic continuum that's in my perfumery course handbook, and is discussed at length in SmellyBlog's article "What Is Naturals?!" is mentioned there too, and if you haven't read it yet I encourage you to do so now.

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Zangvil in the Georgia Straight

Our new perfume, Zangvil, launching 20.11.2011, is featured in this week's Georgia Straight (p. 30) .

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Smelly Scorpio Brother!

emperor scorpion BP

Today is my oldest brother's birthday, and I'm wearing (and mailing him another bottle) of the custom perfume I've created for him a few years ago, which I named after his nickname Yoyo.

He is a Scorpio, ruled by Mars and therefore the complete opposite of me (Aries, also ruled by Mars). Scorpio's motto is change, death and renewal, and they live their life with such force that they draw much attention with their charisma, yet once you know them better you realize it's really hard to tell what's hidden inside their shell. In their most dangerous incarnations, they will sting themselves with their own poisonous tail. In their more benevolent role, they are ambasadors of change and are not afraid of create it for themselves and for other, destroying and ridding themselves and those close to them of the unnecessary, and making room for new growth.

Like most men on the planet, my brother wanted his perfume to be irresistible to women; yet some of his favourite scents are very arguably quite revolting. My brother's favourite scents include some scents that are not exactly what you'd think pretty or desirable in a perfume (this is how their order of recollection as he described them for me on the phone in 2006):
Bakery early in the morning
Pipe smoke
Tomato leaves
Earth after rain
Books - both old and new
Gas station
Paint thinner
Leather in a cobbler's shop, and the smell of new leather sandals
Wood-shavings and the smell of a carpenter's shop
Scorched potatoes in a bonfire
The smell of goat's barn from far away

Quite a diverse list with not even a single flower in sight. Sigh...

How do I not make that smell hideous?
By focusing on the leather and the licorice. I built the perfume around licorice notes (star anise and aniseed, but also the lactonic tarragon absolute, to mellow things out and give a suggestion of banana). I also decided for a very unusual exception, to dip into the sample of castoreum that was sent to me by a manufacturer about 10 years ago. So the leather actually included real animalic leather note from poor Russian beavers, mingled with intensely smoky cade (for the scorched bonfire potatoes), dry tobacco absolute balanced with sweet cocoa absolute. For a hint of paint thinners, I opted for styrax, which has a very chemical-like smell (which I'm very fond of, by the way). There are more notes to it, but this is the gist of what Yoyo's perfume is.

And of course, re-blending it, I'm realizing there were essences that I was too scared to add before (costus, for example) that will certainly be fantastic there, and what was I thinking not putting it there? So the 2011 edition is going to be a little bolder and richer, and with more pronounced animalic notes. And it will finally be in a spray bottle like my brother always wanted it to be.

Oh, and by the way - the 2006 version must have been irresistible enough, because he's happily married and expecting a 2nd baby next year.

Happy birthday, Yoyo!

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