Psychical application of physical theory (or, more simply, perfuming my space)

With the prospect of businesses reopening and closing again in unpredictable patterns, circumstances have catapulted us into reeling our lives into our containers for a longer term. For the foreseeable future, instead of physically going into a stressful environment and departing from it every weekday (sometimes only to bring the remnant anxiety home in mental defeat, but that’s another story), the stress now comes directly to us through our computer screens, invading the spaces where we used to do personal things that we enjoyed. I’m projecting my own experience onto an imaginary collective “we,” but am pretty confident that I’m not the only one.

In that vein, it makes sense to fortify our spaces with things that make us happy, as an “equal and opposite force” to balance out the effects of our environments. Some people call this net influence “energy,” which I think of more as an internal concept, while we modify external factors. It’s like design in the simplest sense.

If I were to claim a signature drink, it would be rose milk tea. I’ve had it in many forms over the years, from street bubble-tea style (which probably involved artificial syrup and creamer) to traditional English style with real rosebuds and sipped purposefully from fancy china cups. I’ve been a daily coffee drinker for many years now, and I take it with extra cream because I find it too astringent otherwise. Recently, I’ve started adding a dash of rose water to make rose milk coffee—a definite improvement to mornings.

Throughout the day, there’s the growing selection of perfumes to choose from—sometimes multiple specimens a day if I’m trying to use up samples. Par for the course. What I want to share is my new candle love: United Kingdom by Homesick. The France candle I wrote about previously doesn’t hold a… self?! to the flame of United Kingdom. This is the one I wanted in the first place. Per the brand, this is:

The smell of rain that is oh so familiar. A lovely cup of tea. Slight scents of sticky toffee pudding and mince pies shared around the table.

  • Top notes: bergamot, grass, rain
  • Mid notes: Earl Grey tea, apple crumb (I’m guessing they mean apple crumble?)
  • Base notes: toffee, vanilla, sugar

They’ve really nailed it with the rain note. It’s not petrichor. It’s out in the grass, but not muddy—this is a fantasy, after all. Watery but not aquatic, if that makes sense. Crisp yet comforting, fresh air to open our lungs (what we all need now) and the background of “tea and biscuits,” or, as my other half is more prone to perceive, toffee.

I’m not typically a candle person, but this is my favorite candle.

Nightfall.

It befalls all of us.

I had struggled to find a “comfort scent” for bedtime, because no matter how much I liked a fragrance, it would usually interfere with my sleep. More often than not, I would wake up from a nightmare and realize the perfume was the culprit. However, I recently found one that works (after a few tries).

Hongkong Oolong, composed by Maurice Roucel, is the first in the 1+1 series by Nez magazine, which aims to pair a perfumer with an artist from another discipline—in this case, designer Alan Chan. Released with Nez issue #8, themed around addictive substances, Hongkong Oolong presents a smoky milk tea that’s round and soothing.

My only gripe with it was the perceptible cardamom note at the opening. Cardamom in perfume, I have found, simply does not work for me. That was the problem when I wore Hongkong Oolong to bed—I thought the offending note had gone, only to wake up in the middle of the night and smell it with magnified clarity. Now, I spray the fragrance in the air above my pillow about a half hour to an hour before I turn in, and it’s perfectly fine—all milky tea goodness, no cardamom.

And I drift into tomorrow… (sometimes with a detour through the wee hours, but that’s another story.)

5 thoughts on “Psychical application of physical theory (or, more simply, perfuming my space)

    1. Welcome, and I’m honored! I’ve only been on this perfume “journey” for just over a year and a half, and I certainly take inspiration from your and others’ writings, so I am very glad you like it!

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  1. Trying not to think, definitely not talking and not even listening (well, reading) about the work-related stress (la-la-la-la-la).

    It was interesting to read about both the candle (I will look into it once I’m done with a couple that I already have – if I ever want to burn a candle after our current fires 😦 ) and about perfume (haven’t heard about brand or perfume before), but what grabbed my attention even more were your drinks. Can you tell me more? I like rose tea (and even have two different ones, including one from the UK with real rose buds). I like some tea with milk (and love chai). But I’ve never thought of adding milk (it is milk when you say “cream,” right?) to rose tea. Also, any recommendations on the rose water for coffee? I like the idea, but I’m not sure where to start.

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    1. I usually add half & half to my coffee or stronger tea, but with light tea, milk is probably better so as not to dominate the flavor. When I order iced coffee, I always ask for “extra cream,” and the color is almost beige. As for the rose water, I just grabbed the only kind I saw at Wegman’s by chance. It’s nothing fancy. And by “dash” I mean a good squeeze of the plastic bottle—borrowing the language from cocktail making where “a dash of bitters” can be a generous shake out of the glass bottle. This is just something haphazard that worked to my liking, but if you want something more proper and as you like chai, you might try a recipe for Qahwa or traditional Omani coffee—it calls for cardamom, rose water, and saffron. I haven’t tried it yet, but would like to at some point!

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