Refreshing: 94 posts

Effervescent, uplifting fragrances

Rhubarb and Roses in Cuisine and Perfume

Every spring I make a Persian rhubarb sherbet by cooking sliced stems and sugar in water. Once the flavor and pink color infuse into the syrup, I filter the liquid and add rose essence. Enjoyed from tall crystal glasses, the sherbet has a voluptuous taste that calls to mind the warm light streaming through the stained glass windows of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, a pink-tinted jewel of Shiraz.


Since perfumery has much in common with cuisine, rendering my sherbet into a fragrance accord with a similar ornate impression is not difficult. Rhubarb has a natural affinity with rose, violet and berries, because they are complementary notes (and raspberry, in a nesting doll twist, contains elements of both rose and violet, which makes it an especially felicitous partner.)  Jo Malone White Lilac and Rhubarb explores this combination by augmenting the floral layer of rhubarb with a cocktail of rose and lilac. It’s a bright and happy perfume, with a nod to retro glamour.

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What Does Petitgrain Smell Like and My Favorite Perfumes

What is petitgrain and how does it smell like? This iconic perfumery material is derived from the same plant as neroli and orange blossom absolute, bitter or Seville orange tree. Its name means “small grain” in French, and it refers to the fact that traditionally petitgrain was distilled from immature bitter orange fruit. Today, twigs and leaves are more likely to be used. And it smells heavenly–green, sparkling, bright, with a distinctive orange blossom accent.

My new video is devoted to everything petitgrain. I describe how it’s usually used in perfumery and then mention my favorite fragrances that illustrate the complex facets of this essential oil.

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Scent Diary : Green Tea

Do you like the smell of green tea? This morning I wanted to write about a completely different topic, but I brewed a cup of Japanese sencha, unfermented green tea, and I lost myself in its scent. This particular tea smelled of seaweed and violets, and it lingered on the palate as sweet, tender, velvety. I understood then why so often green tea accords are interpreted as combinations of the violet-redolent ionones, green notes and hedione. Some of my favorite green tea perfumes include the classics like Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert. I also have to mention the new Maison Margiela Matcha Meditation, a fragrance by perfumer Maurice Roucel.

Comments about your favorite tea perfumes are much appreciated. Please jot down any interesting scent observations in this thread. You can write about your favorite  fragrances or interesting scents you’ve encountered.

You can also use the Scent Diary to sharpen your sense of smell. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to do so is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell. The most important thing is to notice scents around you. It’s even better if you write it down. Feel free to ask any questions here too.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, green tea on a red tray

5 Moods, 5 Roses

Rose is a classical note in a perfumer’s palette. It can be a natural type-rose, with rich honeyed facets, a citrusy blossom, or a musky bouquet. While some iconic fragrances like Guerlain Nahéma and Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose are rose-dominated, it often finds itself in a supporting role, which it performs beautifully. As I hope to demonstrate to you with my list below, rose is versatile and can suit a variety of moods and fragrance styles.

Although rose is most closely associated with feminine perfumery, I encourage men to disregards such labels. The truth is that citrus, metallic rose notes are already present in many masculine compositions, such as Amouage Lyric Man, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Pour Homme and Cartier Déclaration d’Un Soir. The darker the rose becomes, the more you can experiment with it. For instance, Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady smells devastatingly sexy on a man.

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Vietnamese Green Oil, DIY Colognes and Other Cool Delights

The second part of my refreshing scents series focuses on non-alcoholic and DIY options. Some people prefer to skip alcohol during hot days, and I’m often asked for inexpensive solutions. Experimenting with scents during summer is fun, but when the temperature rises above 35C, the idea of putting on perfume becomes unappealing.

I instead reach for oils from Vietnam or Thailand, especially Dầu Gió Xanh Eagle Brand Medicated Oil. This popular Vietnamese oil is used for headaches, muscle pains, etc, but I also find it effective on hot days when my head feels heavy. The scent is spicy and incense-like, but it’s unexpectedly refreshing. The oil was created in 1935 by a German chemist, Wilhelm Hauffman, for a Singaporean trading house J Lea & Co. Hauffman was perfecting the extraction of chlorophyll, which gave the oil its color, while the other main ingredients included menthol, methyl salicylate and eucalyptus oil

Green Oil became a household favorite in Vietnam once it was introduced in the 1960s. On the other hand, its Art Deco-styled bottle and vivid hue would be familiar not just to those who grew up in Vietnam and other Asian countries, but also the former Soviet ones. During my childhood in Ukraine, medicated oils and Cao Sao Vàng (Golden Star Balm) were considered as nothing short of panacea.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Vincent V. in Reading Sa’di’s Gulistan: I love it, thanks for sharing this Victoria! Currently, I’m reading Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s way) by M. Proust. It also makes me sit up and think every… October 4, 2022 at 3:14am

  • Michele Davis in Reading Sa’di’s Gulistan: I’m reading Clive James Poetry Collection which you can find online using those words. I particularly love reading aloud “Language Lessons”. It’s not as floral or exquisite as Victoria’s regular… October 3, 2022 at 10:39pm

  • Michele Davis in Reading Sa’di’s Gulistan: I agree!! October 3, 2022 at 10:32pm

  • Fazal in Reading Sa’di’s Gulistan: This is awesome. I have often said that if ever a young person asked me for an advice, I will say this, “If there is only one advice I could… October 3, 2022 at 7:03pm

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