Have you ever been fooled by a flower’s scent? If not, it might be the case with this peculiar orange-colored flower called Osmanthus!
If your eyes were to be blindfolded you might confuse Osmanthus fragrans – its scientific name – with a fruit…
How come? Well, Osmanthus smells just like apricots and peaches – no surprise it’s also called sweet osmanthus!
From Greek osma “fragrance” and anthos “flower”, this flower’s latin name literally translates into “fragrant fragrant flower”. You got the etymology right? This little one’s rich perfume persistently embalms any atmosphere!
China is the only country in the world to produce Osmanthus concrete and absolute from its flowers for the perfume industry.
Osmanthus is originally from Eastern Asia and commonly used in the country of dragons – China – where it’s been traditionally flavoring teas for centuries, or even millenaries!
OSMANTHUS IN OLFACTIVE STUDIO’S PERFUME
Olfactive Studio’s new fragrance is inspired by the delicate scent of the Sri Lankan Black Tea combined with harmony to the fruity scent of osmanthus.
In Olfactive Studio’s new launch, osmanthus acts as a central raw material, not to say Osmanthus is the soul of the fragrance…
In our first in-tea-rpretation floral-fruity top notes of Chinese Osmanthus absolute meet the spiciness of Indian Black Pepper – a contrasted head-start!
Sweet Osmanthus and her fruity hints of apricot infuse gracious leaves of Ceylon Black Tea at heart! The essence of Sri Lanka, extracted by CO2, delivers the finest black tea scent.
Osmanthus flowers encounter a bouquet of two fierce floral ladies – Turkish Rose essence and Indian Jasmine absolute – where their white-floral notes join those of opulent Jasmine, and sweeten the fresh rosy notes of Rose.
Smoked by the tropical essence of Java Vetiver, combined to woody Indonesian Patchouli, Smoky Soul’s base notes carry on Osmanthus’ exoticness, and French Seaweed absolute’s mossy savory notes echoe that of Chinese teas.
Marc Antoine Corticchiato’s creativi-tea is exalted through the vapors of Smoky Soul!
WHEN A LITTLE ORANGE FLOWER MEETS A PERFUMER
PRODUCING THE ABSOLUTE
📍South-East China – Sichuan province; Chongqing municipality; Guangxi region
China holds the monopoly of this ingredient’s production worldwide, hence the widest osmanthus plantations are found in the country. This culture takes place mainly in Chengtu, Chongqing and Guilin areas.
The flower bushes are often aligned along the Chinese rice fields.
Only about one ton of concrete is produced each year.
- COLLECTING RAW MATERIAL
- Flowers on trees
- Done by farmers
- Branches are shaked with long bamboo pole – flowers fall onto sheet
- Or picked by hand
- In December
- Same blooming day – better bloom preservation
- Elder wood = best for more flowering – no pruning is ideal
2. PRESERVING FLOWERS
- Immersed in brine bath for weeks – saline solution
- Avoids withering
- Singular treatment for the industry
- Preserves for 3-4 months
- Splits concrete production between 6 months
3. EXTRACTING CONCRETE
- Using hexane
- Flowers are washed – before 1st extraction
- Solvent evaporated & collected to extract more flowers
- Thick dark brownish concrete obtained
4. FROM CONCRETE TO ABSOLUTE
- Concrete diluted in ethanol & glazed
- Solvent extraction from concrete using ethanol
- Ethanol evaporated
- Red-orange liquid absolute obtained
- 3000 kg flowers = 1 kg absolute
- Osmanthus fragrans variety Thunbergii is most productive
ALTERNATIVE EXTRACTION METHODS
The infusion technique and enfleurage method are also used sometimes because of a relatively low yield from solvent extraction – 1,2%.
KEEPING THE TREES
- No irrigation needed
- Raw material detritus used as fertilizer by farmers
THE SCENT OF OSMANTHUS
The floral facet of Osmanthus shares common olfactive traits with Jasmine – its scent is closest to white flowers – because of their opulent and slightly animalistic fragrance.
…BUT NOT ONLY!
Although famous for its original floral scent, Osmanthus absolute has many facets you may not expect…
As mentioned earlier, ripe, fruity apricot-peachy notes reminiscent of flavored fruit tea emanate from Osmanthus absolute – not because of their common orange color, we promise!
It also has leathery notes with hints of hay, pretty rare olfactive aspects amidst fragrant flowers!
Osmanthus is also found to be honey, waxy, and even woody!
The following compounds are what confer osmanthus absolute its magical scent: cis-jasmone (also found in jasmine), ionones such as beta & alpha ionone (6% & 8%), damascone (a fruity molecule), gamma undecalactone (a peach scented molecule), and linalool oxide (8%).
Fruity notes in perfumery are mostly obtained by composing with synthetic molecules such as lactones or damascones!
With Davana essence – another exotic flower – Osmanthus is among the unusual natural fruity notes.
CREATING WITH OSMANTHUS
Though genderless, this floral raw material is found more often in feminine creations for selective commercial big brands, and unisex ones in niche perfumes.
Its subtle unique scent has made it a beloved raw material in niche perfumes, which prevail noble, qualitative ingredients.
When composing a fragrant formula, it perfectly marries gamma undecalatone because of their common peach facet, and natural ingredients such as orange blossom, mimosa, and cassia (a green scented flower).
TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Some fragrance houses like Givaudan (industry’s #1) – those who make perfumes for brands – use and sell a “gold” quality osmanthus.
This specific absolute has the peculiarity to be extracted from cultivated AND wild osmanthus flowers as well – as opposed to only cultivated for the regular one.
It’s a wild difference that brings a quite distinct olfactive profile to this raw material as it also possesses green and freesia facets.
A FLOWER STORY…
- Osmanthus fragrans also called sweet olive, tea olive, & fragrant olive
- Oleaceae family – resembles laurel
- Osmanthus genus – 15 species
- Fragrans species – supplies the perfume industry
- Two varieties – var. thunbergii & var. auriantacus
- 4-petal orange flowers – mostly white for other species
BLOSSOM IN THE EAST
- Native to mid-East Himalayas (China)
- Provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan & Yunnan
- Also found throughout East Asia – Japan (arrived in 17th century), Taiwan, Korea, Cambodia, Thailand
- Commonly found in tropical gardens & parks
- 3 to 12 meters tall small trees
- Flowers appear in spring, summer & fall
A CHINESE TRADITION
In the far East, osmanthus’ first mention in writings dates back to the Warring States period (476 BC-211BC) – an era characterized by warfare in ancient China – with a quote from the Chinese book Sea and Mountain : "Zhaoyao Mountain had a lot of Osmanthus".
The flower has a strong symbolic in the country as it embodies the perpetual movement of life, and symbolises wisdom.
SPILL THE TEA
If you’re into tea, you’re going to want to read this: ever heard of guìhuāchá?
Spelled 桂花茶 in chinese characters, it refers to the tea made with sweet osmanthus flowers daintily married to green or black tea leaves.
This osmanthus-flavored tea is popular and found throughout East-Asia.
Osmanthus is the symbol of the city of Guilin – Southern Chinese region of Guangxi bordering Vietnam – whose name translates into “forest of sweet osmanthus" spelled 桂林, along with other cities like Suzhou and Hangzhou to mention a few.
ANOTHER TYPE OF TEA
Other drinks enjoy the sweet flavor of this peculiar flower, just like the city of Liuzhou’s beer – also in Guangxi region – where osmanthus-flavored beer is brewed.
Not a fan of beer? There’s osmanthus for every taste… Indeed, if you’re more of a wine lover you must try osmanthus wine!
This magical beverage is made by infusing the flowers in rice wine such as huangjiu. The perfect time to enjoy such a traditional drink would definitely be during the famous Mid-Autumn festival.
Fun fact, osmanthus-flavored Pepsi is made and sold in China by the multinational group Pepsi-Cola!
The wonders of osmanthus’ scent don’t stop here as the flowers have been incorporated into osmanthus-flavored liquor, dumplings (yum), soups, and for the sweet-toothed…cakes and jams!
ONE FOR A THOUSAND
Osmanthus’ first appearance in the marvellous world of perfumery as an ingredient would have been in Jean Patou’s fragrance “1000” created in 1972 by Jean Kerleo.
The perfume’s marketing campaign revolved around the uniqueness of the fragrance! Legend tells osmanthus concrete production was rather small in the 70’s and allowed only 1000 bottles to be produced each year.
OSMANTHUS IN FRAGRANCES
Osmanthus absolute is one-of-a-kind of a flower and has been explored by niche perfume brands, and high-class houses:
- Smoky Soul by Olfactive Studio
- Osmanthus interdite by Parfum d’Empire – also created by perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato
- L’île au thé by Annick Goutal – another tea-inspired fragrance
- Osmanthus by Acqua di Parma
- 1000 by Patou
- Flora by Gucci
- Eau de Dolce Vita by Christian Dior
- Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermès
Anna Grézaud-Tostain as The Raw Materialist for Olfactive Studio