There is a tiny white flower that grows in the eastern parts of our world; Asia mainly. These 1cm flowers are bell-shaped with four tooth-like petals, a golden a pistil crowns its centre. Dark dark green leaves nestle the flowers, these plants are often seen in gardens for their ornamental properties as well planted for their delicious scent. But this delicate little piece of floral magic is more than beautiful to look at more than just a giver of divine scent it also happens to have healing properties. Meet sweet osmanthus the Tiny Yet Powerful flower of the East.
Images of bottle Jason Yates.com
Should you travel in China and end up in Guilin then you have literally come to the home of osmanthus, because the name of the city literally translates as “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus”, owing to the vast number of sweet osmanthus trees located in the region.
In china generally where teas are drunk and specifically osmanthus tea, where green or black tea leaves are combined with the flowers of the plant.
Also, in China, this little miracle is used in traditional medicine for the treatments of ailments such as cancer, diabetes, and even renal disease. The qualities of this tea is said to improve complexions and help rid the body of excess nitric oxide, a compound linked to the formation of many of the above illnesses.
There is even in China osmanthus wine where the full flower is infused with rice wine, drunk often at Autumnal festivals. All over the region find and jams gruels and desserts infused with this little gem.
There is also a variant seen often in Japan where it is used ornamentally for gardens that have deep sunburst-orange flowers.
As a perfume ingredient, it has in the last few years become more and more popular. Traditionally the East Asians were not big wearers of fragrance. It may well have something to do with the idea of being in someone’s ‘personal space’, which in many areas in the East is considered extremely rude. So wearing a strong fragrance that invades someone else’s space was not really acceptable. But times change and fragrances are becoming more and more popular. In probably because of this, perfumers have been traveling to these lands and finding new ingredients that are familiar to those living in these countries.
So this is a very big reason for new perfumes being bourne in the last few years with this wonderful ingredient. One of the first was by Ulrich Lang. 17 Nandan Road is named after the street address for Shanghai’s Guangqi Garden where osmanthus flowers can be found in full bloom during the month of October. As a perfumer, Ulrich is always a leader, and to be sure if he chooses a new scent trust that within a couple of years others will follow. Also worth noting are Hermès Osmanthe Yunnan and Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus.
So what does this powerhouse of a magical plant smell like?
Initially, it is talked of as being a bit peachy-apricot smelling but it’s not quite that simple of course, why would it be when the plant has so much to offer. Yes, it has a soft lush fruit facet but add in the soft suede-like skin of the fruit for a hint of powder and never forget it is a flower so it has some depth of a sort of Jasmine extension to it.
So much more than being the soft fruits of what we think of as Autumnal, it is a meeting place of fruit flower and powder-soft, making it a wonderful ingredient to bring together Flowers, fruits, and musks. It is nuanced and faceted and as clever a fragrant note as it is a food or healing plant
Image Jason Yates.com
Here are three new fragrances all of which celebrate this miniature ‘kick-boxer’ of a flower.
Internationally renowned car maker Bentley has recently added to their rather magnificent scent range the beyond Bentley collection, a floral exploration. Targeted for women (but can be worn by all) the collection consists of three key flowers that have a relationship to the ideas of travel. At the cornerstone of the three is of course Radiant Osmanthus with an eye to Kyoto, Japan, therefore the orange-flowered vision.
A light and joyous fruity-flora; this perfume is a perfect example of how osmanthus can bring a whole fragrance together. Opening at the top with bright light sparkling citrus via neroli, mandarin, and lemon. It then moves into a fruity-floral middle with jasmine that echoes the floral of the osmanthus present, sitting with peach as another echo back to osmanthus and the fruity syringa wrapping the heart and head together.
This coming together is very softly finalised with woods; cedar and sandalwood, warm amber and soft musk. A delicious exploration that melds seamlessly to create a magnificent fusion, showing off at its centre, the divine osmanthus flower. Lush, rich like sunshine in a bottle.
Next on our exploration comes JusBox’s latest musical inspiration. Night flow. As ever with this clever Italian perfume maker the scent is a musical movement made into a perfume. And this time the chosen music is Rap. So what does Rap smell of according to JusBox?
This scent, Night Flow is a very different take on osmanthus, a full-on intense powerful composition where the flower becomes far more carnal. It opens all hot and spicy with exotic saffron alongside the natural essential oil of pink pepper LMR which melds into a heart of juicy sweet raspberries. A sort of perfume punch that goes into a succulent juicy sexy middle. Think Juicy by The Notorious B.I.G or Kendrick Lamar – Poetic Justice. It’s these soft vocals that bring the heart to this scent. Find Jasmine sambac set with the more sexual facet of fruity osmanthus here with a more grounded earthy final accord of ambergris and patchouli oil with a pinch of leather.
Both music and fragrance are intriguingly fused in memory; a hit of perfume the opening bars of a favourite tune and add into that a gourmand element and instantly we transported to another place and a time pasted.
Lastly of the new osmanthus fragrances meet Atelier Cologne simply called Love Osmanthus. There is an almost ‘double entendre’ here as the fragrance is built around the idea of secret love, and the love of the fruity flower in a secret walled garden. But as with all of this brand’s fragrances,’ it is an explosion of citrus at the top. They do as a company, excel at citrus and here we find this perfect marriage of lemon with osmanthus.
The scent bursts open literally with the fresh zing of lemon, from juice via the rind to the tree. Pow, into rich fruity warm and luscious suedey peach and luscious pulp of apricot, then finally resting on calming, sheer cedarwood perfectly suited as the mate to the above notes.
A unisex fragrance that doesn’t shout out but caresses with a clear sense of the ingredients without being full-on or loud it’s soft on the skin even though the ingredients are not ‘shy’. But here the facet of the suede of osmanthus comes into its own, echoing the suede skin of the fruit and soft human flesh, sexy and intimate, where all the notes from top to base meld unanimously in the bottle of joy.
All three quite divine perfumes show the perfect facets of this most intriguing tiny yet powerful flower, from its bursting orange hue to its angelic white creaminess. Each takes its own interpretation, its own journey through travel music and love.
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