نعناع هندی Indian Patchouli

نعناع هندی Indian Patchouliنعناع هندی Indian Patchouliنعناع هندی Indian Patchouli

Odor profile: An exotic bush that grows mainly in India, the leaves of which produce the essential oil of patchouli. Sweet, dark, with an earthy, woody edge, it is very popular in many blends, especially the contemporary woody floral musks. Synthetics and fractal extractions of the material also abound.

Patchouli is a wonderful green bushy herb of the mint family. It belongs to the genus Pogostemon and grows up to two or three feet in height. The herb is graced with delicate pinkish-white flowers and aromatic leaves that have been used for centuries in perfumery, due to their wonderful and strong scent. Patchouli is native to tropical regions of Asia, but it grows well in all warm to tropical climates. Nowadays, several varieties of the Pogostemon genus are cultivated allover Asia, West Africa and South America for their aromatic oil known as patchouli oil.

The name patchouli derives from the old Tamil words patchai, meaning "green", and ellai meaning "leaf". The origin of the name points out to the native land of this herb, stemming from the Dravidian language spoken mostly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. The plant was brought to the Middle East along the silk route, and it was thanks to the famous conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte that patchouli reached Europe. Napoleon brought to France a couple of patchouli-scented cashmere shawls that he found in Egypt. The shawls were redolent of patchouli oil, which was used to repel insects and protect them from moths, but the origin of the scent was held as closely guarded secret. Wonderful patterns of the oriental fabrics have soon become easy to replicate, but sneaky European manufacturers were still forced to import the fragrant oil from the East. The secret was finally broken in 1837, when Francisco Manuel Blanco first described patchouli as Mentha cablin, revealing the secret of the mysterious oriental scent to the rest of the western world.

The world’s major craze for patchouli happened in the Europe and America during the 1960s and 1970s. This pungent scented oil that bears a strong reference to India was typically worn by the hippies, who were often associated with the Hare Krishna movement. Unfortunately, the hippies contributed to the bad reputation of patchouli oil because they were typically wearing very bad synthetic formulations. The association of patchouli with the hippie culture finally resulted in misperception of this raw material, and for most of us today, patchouli is just a synonym for too heady, too overwhelming and too common fragrance. Here is an example taken from the UrbanDictionary:

patchouli

    1. A plant that smells like a Grateful Dead concert.
    2. Not a shower, contrary to San Franciso's public policy on hygiene.
    3. Slang term for Filty Filthy Hippie

"No hipppie, that's a bad hippie. Patchouli is not a shower!"

Of course, this example only illustrates another common fallacy and everyone who seriously wishes to explore the wonderful world of perfumery should remember that patchouli is the elementary unit of the entire class of perfumes – the chypre fragrances. The scent of patchouli is described as earthy and herbaceous with rich green heart and a woodsy base. The olfactory profile of patchouli oil, however, strongly depends on the cultivation techniques, time of the harvest, the process of drying and distillation techniques. The highest quality oil is obtained from only 3-4 top pairs of mature leaves, where the highest concentration of the purest oil is found. Proper drying is ensured by placing the cut stems and leaves on a dry surface and turning them over frequently to prevent rapid fermentation. When the process is complete, the leaves are stripped from the stems and placed in woven baskets to allow fermentation and release of their wonderful aroma. The final quality will also depend on the skill of the grower, who controls the level of fermentation by using his own nose. Only a small number of distilleries is specialized in production of this highly refined extract which finds its use in haute parfumerie.

Patchouli oil is obtained by steam distillation or CO2-extraction of the dried leaves. The oil has a rich, balsamic and herbaceous flavor with a minty-woody undertone. Patchouli absolute is a dark green liquid obtained by the solvent extraction of dried leaves. The absolute has a rich, pronouncedly sweet and herbaceous aroma with woody-balsamic undertone. They both blend perfectly with oriental bouquets, chypre and fougère-type fragrances, and powdery perfumes. Patchouli blends well with vetiver, which contains the same earthy olfactory profile, sandalwood, cedarwood, clove, lavender, rose, labdanum, and so on.

One of the most wonderful features of patchouli oil is that it becomes even better with aging. Freshly distilled oil may appear more green, tart and unmelodious in comparison to well aged oil that has a rich and full fruity-like nuance.

In the opus of L Artisan Parfumeur, there are two patchouli-dominated fragrances: the oriental fragrance for women Patchouli Patch, and oriental-woody men’s fragrance Voleur de Roses.

The floral woody musky fragrance for women Nuits de Noho, by Bond No9, features patchouli in the top notes, while Lorenzo Villoresi’s unisex Patchouli offers straightforward interpretation of this herb, laid on a base of woodsy and musky notes. Let me also mention a vintage creation, Patchouli Pour Homme by Reminiscence. Launched in 1970, this fragrance features geranium, cedar and patchouli in the middle notes.

Among the oriental woody fragrances, I would single out two wonderful unisex scents: Montale’s Patchouli Leaves and Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens. More refined, softer, and ultimately feminine interpretation of patchouli is offered in oriental vanilla fragrance for women - Angel by Thierry Mugler.

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