For reasons I can’t quite remember now, about a month ago I wanted to try making a perfume blend that smelled like matcha fig tea. I didn’t have any matcha on hand as a reference, although I have a pretty good memory of it from years of drinking it and eating various matcha-flavored foods. With my limited ingredients, I thought moss might help, so I tried cedarmoss and later Evernyl (which was “cleaner” and less earthy), but they tended to dominate. The same went for clary sage in an opening bitterness.
I was also exploring the essential oil of palmarosa, a species of lemongrass, with its honey-lemon-ginger aroma that I thought would complement the tea note well. However, the more the creamy and woody aspects of the other ingredients came together, the more I craved those effects, and palmarosa contradicted them in the blend.
The woods were initially both cedar, as I tried to optimize the ratio of the Atlas and Virginian varieties. I’m quite infatuated with Atlas cedarwood, with its complex, smooth, almost fruity (?) scent—rich like durian (without the pungency) rather than like butter, which is more descriptive of sandalwood, and in contrast with the classic “pencil shavings” of Virginian cedarwood. I do need to develop a better vocabulary for these smells. In any case, I happened to read something about guaiyl acetate being a fraction of guaiacwood that has a tea-rose aroma, and the clichéd metaphorical light bulb went off in my head.
The final result, that I’m mostly happy with:
- Fig note: a very simple one made with Stemone and methyl laitone
- Tea notes: green tea tincture, bitter yuzu, osmanthus, petitgrain
- Wood notes: amyris, Atlas cedarwood, Virginian cedarwood, guaiyl acetate, Iso E Super
Incidentally, I was eating fresh figs the other day and thought how remarkable it was that they tasted like Stemone. That wasn’t what I expected. I suppose they could have ripened a bit longer.
The 2 cedars are in a 1:1 ratio, both playing second fiddle to guaiac. The yuzu and osmanthus are light and I have a hard time perceiving them individually, but they lace the fig-tea greenness delicately.
Not one to pass up easily on an opportunity for wordplay, I wanted to attribute both the fig and the woods, and so we have: Figurine.