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What is Patchouli?

What is Patchouli?

What is Patchouli?

Patchouli is a flowering plant in the Mint Family.

Though it often has a woody essence, it is actually a leafy plant. Its name, in Tamil, literally means ‘Green Leaf’.

The aroma of Patchouli tends to be spicy, earthy, smoky, woody, and oftentimes sharp in essence.

It is native to Southeast Asia, thriving in tropical climates, with Indonesia currently producing over 90% of the Oil used today. 

Throughout its history, Patchouli has been used for everything from traditional medicines, to Teas, Incense, and insect repellents. 

In the 19th century, Wool shawls brought to Europe from India were coated in Patchouli leaves to thwart moths and ended up becoming a fashion statement, which later led to the desirability of Patchouli as a fragrances.

In the 1960’s, Patchouli was synonymous with ‘hippies’, as the young adults of the hippy movement scented themselves with the natural aromas of the earth, possibly happened-upon during their backpacking trips around the world. The intensity  in which it was worn is thought to be due to the idea that it covered the aromas of certain recreational activities, ultimately giving Patchouli a bad rep.

Today, Patchouli can be found in an array of fragrances, which have come a long way and are no longer described as ‘hippy dippy’. Patchouli can be sophisticated and warm. It is often found in deeper, richer, woodier scents, but can be paired with powdery notes and flowers as a fixative to boost the lightness.

Patchouli Noir from Christian Provenzano is woody, floral, and soft. It was created as a scent where Patchouli was the star of the show, but that didn’t fit the stereotypes. Red Fruits, Bergamot, and a blend of flowers keeps things smooth and creamy, while a touch of Leathery Labdanum keeps the traditional Patchouli essence alive just under the surface.

Ruy Lopez from Mind Games is rich and sweet. Cherry and Plum sweeten the intensity of Patchouli, making it less harsh than you might expect, but Black Tea, Black Pepper, and Leather keeps things dark.

Nero Nepal from Giardino Benessere is fresh and woody. Red Patchouly is blended with Guaiac Wood and Oud to keep the intensity, but maintains an aromatic lighteness with Lemon, Cedar, and Cumin.

Perles from Lalique is an earthy floral scent. Patchouli blends with Bourbon Pepper that adds a nice intensity to the beginning of this scent, but things mellow over time with Bulgarian Rose and Orris. In the end, this becomes a beautiful, slightly exotic, floral perfume.

Patchouli has come a long way through history, and is still making an impression on the world.

You can find these scents, and more, at Parfumerie Nasreen in Seattle.

We’d love to hear about your favorite Patchouli fragrances.

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