New to Havenessence: Boronia absolute from Tasmania. One of the rarest, most expensive oils in the world. A complex floral base combines with citrus notes of melon, violet, raspberry and freesia, with a dry wood background. This exquisite, certified, oil is now available. Buy online or visit us in central London.
Native Americans used cedarwood poles to mark hunting territories. French traders named Baton Rouge, Louisiana, (meaning “red stick”) from the colour of these poles.
Virginia Cedar essential oil, distilled from the wood, twigs and leaves of Juniperus virginiana, produces a wonderful, deep, balsamic woody aroma with hints of sandalwood.
Havenessence usually stocks half a dozen lavenders from around the world. Varieties include angustifolia, hybridia sumian and latifolia. Most are steam distilled but we usually hold a lavender absolute — bright green, camphorous, powerful, expensive, to be used with caution!
But it’s our English lavenders which take pride of place: low, sweet, floral, herbaceous, soporific, without the high camphor or eucalyptus notes of lavenders grown further south.
We buy from different English counties, depending on quality and supply. Some fields and distillers are better some years than others so we move around the country, sourcing the unusual and the best.
Lavender in Britain gets a bad press, being associated with old ladies. Our English lavenders are sweet, sexy, and infinitely surprising — scents for all ages.
Lavender effects some people strongly in terms of sleep and relaxation, helping to produce a deep, dreamless sleep when dripped on the pillow or used in the bath at bedtime. Accordingly, our lavenders are a top ingredients for soaps, creams and massage oils.
As a child I was fortunate enough to take part in a lavender harvest. The field was cut and the crop transported by tractor and trailer through the lanes to where the distiller was waiting. I travelled sitting on the freshly cut lavender and, forty years later, still remember that smell. At Havenessence we can share some of that magic.
New at Havenessence — Frankincense Boswellia Sacra oil, available online or in person at Piccadilly Market, London W1.
The ancient Egyptians believed frankincense to be the sweat of gods, fallen to earth. The legendary Phoenix bird was believed to build its nest from twigs of frankincense and to feed upon the resin. Incense containing frankincense was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb.
Havenessence Frankincense Sacra (Boswellia sacra) has a sweet, strong, almost floral aroma combined with balsamic and animalistic undertones. We hold just a small quantity of this special oil.
Exquisite images kindly sent to us by a Piccadilly Market customer, Renate Eder, of Frangipani cuttings from Cuba which she has grown until they bloomed.
We stock Plumeria rubra absolute and use it extensively in soaps, creams and massage oils. But Plumeria alba is an unknown quantity. It’s available but wildly expensive….
…. is over. For a year I’ve been looking for a good sandalwood oil. I’ve had samples from India, Australia, the West Indies and New Caledonia. Most have been weak, watery, and generally unimpressive.
Which was frustrating because sandalwood is arguably the most important of the wood oils: a key ‘masculine’ scent, fundamental to aromatherapy and central within some cultures and religions.
So it was a joy and a relief to receive a TREMENDOUS sandalwood from Vanuatu, santalum austrocaledonicum, which we now stock.
Smokey, viscous, pungent, long-lasting, a dark honey colour. Produced in government regulated, sustainable, plantations and distilled in Vanuatu using biofuel (coconut oil).
The perils of buying Indian Sandalwood…
Koose Muniswamy Veerappan, known as Sandalwood Veerappan, murdered some 184 people, including villagers, forestry officials and police personnel. He was killed by a special police task force in 2004.
Chatting just now with a customer I learned a startling fact. Queen Victoria’s knickers…
… were scented with patchouli! Well I’m blowed.
It seems that 18th and 19th century silk traders from China packed their cloth with dried patchouli leaves as moth repellent. This led wealthy Europeans to associate patchouli with opulent Eastern goods. Which, in turn, caused Queen Victoria, Empress of India, ruler of half the globe, to pack her knicker drawer with the famous Hippie Gold.
Chill out ma’am!
One of the most exotic oils we sell is frangipani. We describe it as ‘rich, heady, exotic, deeply floral’ but that does not do it justice. Together with jasmine, gardenia, lotus, the roses, and a few other flower scents, frangipani is an aristocrat of the sweet, in-your-face, ‘feminine,’ essential oils/absolutes.
Some people baulk at the scent. It’s so sweet. Rose, for example, can be understated. But not frangipani. In its raw form, as an absolute, it grabs you by the throat and may make the eyes water. The variety we sell — plumeria rubra — is coloured blood red.
The frangipani tree enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the Frangipani Hawkmoth (pseudosphinx tetrio). The caterpillars are tremendous: six inches long, a poisonous yellow and black, a spike on abdominal segment eight, feeding on the frangipani leaves before pupating and emerging as a moth with a five inch wing-span.
The moth returns to the frangipani flowers, attracted by the perfume, in search of nectar, and a dirty trick is pulled on it: there is no nectar, only pollen, which the moth distributes unwittingly to other trees, causing fertilisation to occur.
There’s much more to be said about frangipani. It has a role in both religion and sex. It is the national tree of Laos (called dok jampa) and every Buddhist temple has one or more in their courtyard.
In Polynesian culture, the frangipani is worn by women to indicate their relationship status – over the right ear if seeking a relationship, over the left if taken.
A rare, expensive, and (in Chinese culture) historically important scent: Osmanthus (osmanthus fragrans).
The scent is described variously as a blend of jasmine, gardenia and ripe apricots and like new shoe leather with cherry-like overtones. This will be available once we source a good, reputable, supplier who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg!
Also known as Sweet Olive, Tea Olive and Fragrant Olive. It can be seen in the Temperate House at Kew.