Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It's osmanthus season again. Our neighborhood is filled with the citrusy sweet, yet deep white-flowerish scent. Osmanthus, sometimes called fragrant olive, is native to warm parts of Asia. The variety that lives in our neighborhood has orange-gold flowers, the kind that we call "kinmokusei" in Japanese. The scent is fruity, sweet-sour, and very strong, somewhat like jasmine. The Chinese flavor their tea with it much like the popular jasmine tea, only it's called osmanthus tea.

The scent of osmanthus is extracted by solvent extraction resulting in osmanthus absolute. Osmanthus absolute is one of the most expensive perfume materials, but you only need a little bit as the scent is very, very strong. Some of the more delicate, floral aspect of the fresh flowers is lost in the absolute. To me, the absolute accentuates the sweet, animal-like aspect of the osmanthus flower.