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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Juhi, Motia, Sambac, Sampaquita: What Do You Call Jasmine? (And a Prize Draw)

Image and video hosting by TinyPicBy Marla the Nerd Girl

Jasmine, my favorite flower, comes in lots of different packages. My poor Maid of Orleans sambac jasmine died when Hurricane Irene brushed us last summer. They are not terribly easy plants to grow on windswept dunes….

So I’ve given up gardening with jasmine, but I keep wearing it. There were rumors in the scientific community a couple of years ago that certain components of jasmine were proving to be strong antidepressants. Some drug companies apparently are researching those compounds now. I’m not surprised, but if I’m gloomy, I’m going to put on some real jasmine absolute, not take a jasmine pill!

The two most famous varieties of jasmine in perfumery are Jasminum grandiflorum (the sweet one) and Jasminum sambac (the skanky one). Sambac is also known as Sampaquita, or Motia. (Though motia can also mean any kind of jasmine in India and Pakistan.) Jasminum auriculatum is also well known in India, and is making its way into perfumery here. It’s also called Juhi, and has a more balsamic and herbaceous profile. Sambac has a deeper profile, with more indoles, hence, the skank. Star jasmine, also used in perfumery, is not jasmine at all, it’s a dogbane, so I’m leaving it out, though it’s awfully pretty.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicIFRA’s 43rd amendment put severe restrictions on the use of actual jasmine. The technocrats are worried that someone, someday, might come out in a rash from it and sue everybody. Labs have some interesting synthetic jasmines, my favorite being Sampaquita by Givaudan. It’s very pretty, though it has little in common with actual jasmine sambac. Utterly de-skanked, every bit of earth has been removed. On its own merits, though, it’s lovely, airy and sweet. The synths are “clean” florals. The vast majority of IFRA-compliant perfumes use the synthetics, so when “jasmine” is a note, think synth. I’ve met some people that love synthetic jasmine but loathe the natural. So be careful and clarify when someone says their favorite floral is jasmine before you buy them perfume!

I like my jasmine straight up and natural. I have several bottles of absolute, and a few attars. My favorite is an Indian grandiflorum from Eden Botanicals. And of course, a number of famous perfumes in vintage format are loaded with real jasmine (some from Asia, some from Grasse), and if kept properly, they’ll last decades.

Natural perfumers and many indies are committed to using real jasmine, so I seek out their creations to sniff. Bellyflowers Perfumes just came out with a new potion called Blue Jasmine that I like very much. It pairs every jasmine I’ve mentioned with lotus and ylang ylang; nagarmotha and blue chamomile give it an unusual zip. Blue Jasmine has that ancient Indian attar vibe in spades, though I find it easier to wear than some of the shamamas. To my nose, it’s warm, grounding, and earthy. This is not a well-kept jasmine from a Lucknow garden, but wild jasmine growing in damp earth in a primordial forest.

Bellyflowers is giving away a 3ml sample of Blue Jasmine to interested readers. If you want to be in the drawing, please leave a comment about your favorite type of jasmine, either from the garden or the perfume bottle.

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Blogger mous said...

I like skank, so my favorite Jasmin would be the sambac jasmin.

12:06 AM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

I adore the real thing too! I just got a sample of Blue Jasmine and it's really great. I can't imagine why IFRA is bent on restricting something so harmless - you can EAT it for heaven's sake!

My little collection of vintage Joy is pure heaven, and they will pry that jasmine out of my cold dead fingers!

12:11 AM EST  
Blogger Susan said...

I honestly don't know if I've found my favorite jasmine yet - it's not a note I've explored much. By Kilian Love and Tears is nice. I do kind of like Lush's Lust. But I'm not sure that I've found MY jasmine yet.

12:16 AM EST  
Blogger solace said...

"jasmine makes miracles happen"

wow... how do you pick a favorite jasmine? that's like asking me to pick a child? but, since i don't have children, i pick grandiflorum!

i love sambac... but sometimes it's too much if you're working in close proximity to someone... too intimate. erotic.

thank you for sharing the botanical bliss and Elise's wonderful art!

12:45 AM EST  
Blogger yash said...

I was initially very reluctant with jasmine as a perfume note until I smelled jasmine extracted through enfleurage and co2 distillation by Sharini' s Nicolas Jennings...and fell in love. I am more attracted to jasmine soliflores such as kilians love and tears and InFiore's Night Queen(sambac skankfest).
Thanks so much for the draw.

1:36 AM EST  
Blogger Marjorie said...

I have to admit I really like Jennifer Aniston's perfume. The jasmine in it is so easy to wear and makes me feel like summer nights by the ocean.

2:53 AM EST  
Blogger Martinus Scriblerus said...

Wow! That sounds like a lot of fun. My very favourite jasmine is probably ... oh I don't know. I get it in Songes, I like Lush's Vanillary, I get it in Sampaquita. I like all these. But I love best the Jasmine attar by Amouage. Now that - that is an amazing jasmine. It dominates any mukhallat I try to make with it. Totally gorgeous.

2:57 AM EST  
Blogger AromaX said...

Defenitely not jasmine in a pill. :) When it comes to flowers and herbs and their effect on human one can't rely just on science. The total effect is more complex indeed. Applying and enjoying the jasmine scent is not the same as taking a jasmine based pep up pil :)
My favorites are either jasmine concrete based Jasmin Full by Montale and Flying Fox bu Lush or La Nuit by Lutens.

3:40 AM EST  
Anonymous Greenlily said...

I love the smell of jasmine growing - but I think I've only smelled star jasmine which I find out is not a real jasmine a all! (And I thought that I knew everything.) I don't have a lot of jasmine-heavy perfumes, but I'll have to say my two favorites are the jasmine/sandalwood of Guerlain's Samsara, and the jasmine/rose of Joy.
Nuda by Nassamoto(sp?)is an amazingly naturalistic and heady jasmine. Please enter me into the draw for the Blue Jasmine!

6:19 AM EST  
Blogger Elysse said...

Growing up in Greece, we had various types of jasmines growing around the house. You'd be considered crazy to call a sambac 'jasmine'. Even 'sambac' wasn't one thing since we had the one with the larger flowers and the many petals called 'granduca' (from Grand + duke, a reference to the Grand Duke de Toscane)and 'sambac' was the one with the single row of petals. Blue jasmine was called 'egyptian jasmine', yellow jasmine (Jasminum mesnyi)had a different name and the one we 'd call 'jasmine' was the jasminum azoricum.

Because I grew up with these smells, they are quite different in my mind and I love each one in its own right. It also makes finding a 'jasmine' perfume very very difficult as my expectations are always very high.

6:31 AM EST  
Blogger rosarita said...

Thanks Marla for an informative article! I admit when it comes to knowledge of this kind of thing, I'm very much a *don't know art, but I know what I like* kinda girl. I have some vintage Arpege which is my favorite jasmine/rose combination. I'm a big fan of Bellyflowers, though, and I'd love to try this.

7:11 AM EST  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

I appreciate knowing the botanical names of flowers, and it's nice to be able to connect your impressions with the different varieties, since I don't know much about jasmine--except that I like it! My favorite jasmine-bearing perfume just now is Songes.

7:13 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winter-flowering jasmine (jasminum nudiflora) is one for which I have a soft spot - partly because it is a great winter treat, and partly because my father planted one for us in the garden of the first house OH and I owned.

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

7:33 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in the South we grown Confederate jasmine. It is not a perfume note, but smells so beautiful when it blooms.

Mrs. Honey

7:58 AM EST  
Blogger Sujaan said...

Great article. I love jasmine but am not sure which kind it is that I love. My guess is the Sambac. My best jasmine item i had was a Bamboo and Jasmine candle by Slatkin and Co. They don't make it anymore and I'm bummed! It's throw was extensive. I would burn it for 1/2 hour and smell jasmine for hours after.
Sometimes I wear just plain jasmine essential oil, but after reading the other comments I want to try the Amouage attar and Jennifer Aniston (really? In the same sentence? Is that sacrilege?)

8:12 AM EST  
Blogger woodgirl said...

My favorite Jasmine perfume is Sarrasins by Serge Lutens, although I much prefer woody-resinous smells. We have lots of Jasmines that grow locally. I prefer sweet to skanky. Thanks for the draw.

8:31 AM EST  
Blogger cbstarker said...

There is no jasmine like a dirty one, in my opinion. My favorite jasmine perfume is Tauer's Maroc pour Elle. Even though there's a noticeable rose note in it, to me it's all about the jasmine. I've been consistently disappointed by the myriad synthetic jasmine perfumes, including some of the most notable, like Ormonde Jayne's Sampaquita. Bring me skank and keep it dirty. I'd love to try Bellyflowers' jasmine, Blue Jasmine, please enter me in the draw. Thank you for the informative article and the chance to try Blue Jasmine.

9:17 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a lot of varieties of jasmine blooming in Houston including the not-truly-jasmine star jasmine. The best smelling one is night-blooming jasmine. Just did a quick read-up on Wikipedia where I saw that jasmine is a member of Solanaceae or the potato or nightshade family. A lot of the plants in this family are eaten but a lot are also toxic and or psychoactive and/or allergenic. I can see some reasons for restricting the usage. Some of them can cause severe asthma attacks including night-blooming jasmine. My favorite scent with jasmine is Guerlain Mayotte/Mahora although it's probably hard to separate out the jasmine from the other potent white beauties like frangipani and tuberose. It's very heady and not for everyday wear but it's such a wonder, it makes me feel like Cleopatra or something! Please do enter me in the drawing.


9:42 AM EST  
Blogger Aimée L'Ondée said...

I adore skank, and love the sambac variety! In Western perfumes, my favorite jasmine is probably the stuff in my vintage Joy parfum -- it slays me every time. After a wet bike ride to work, I kinda wish I had it on, now! Thanks for entering me in the draw -- that Bellyflowers perfume sounds lovely!

9:59 AM EST  
Anonymous classflirt said...

the name 'bellyflowers' makes me giggle! love it. my favorite jasmine of this moment is in my Lush R&B hair masque where its blended with orange blossom. smells soooo good. i need my jasmine on the light side, otherwise its too reminiscent of my son's poopy diapers. sorry, but his bum is like a litle garden...

10:48 AM EST  
Blogger Andrea Shanti said...

love love love ALL Jasmine!!
only natural though
never found a synth that does any thing for me
my favorite is my own creation-
7 different extracts blended with a hint of sandalwood. I call it 7*Jasmine.
thanks for the draw

11:02 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is going to sound odd but my favorite jasmine is in Le Parfum de Therese. After the initial melon and greens have left, there appears a gorgeous sexy jasmine all wrapped up in leather. The leather and the general sobriety of Roudniska's formulations keep this particular jasmin out of the bedroom but somehow manage to leave it very warm and sexy, without playing up the indoles. Being Roudniska's creation, I suspect this is some of Grasse's best jasmine. As I write this I wonder what has happened to Therese's jasmin under the current IFRA regulations.

11:07 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is going to sound odd but my favorite jasmine is in Le Parfum de Therese. After the initial melon and greens have left, there appears a gorgeous sexy jasmine all wrapped up in leather. The leather and the general sobriety of Roudniska's formulations keep this particular jasmin out of the bedroom but somehow manage to leave it very warm and sexy, without playing up the indoles. Being Roudniska's creation, I suspect this is some of Grasse's best jasmine. As I write this I wonder what has happened to Therese's jasmin under the current IFRA regulations.

11:08 AM EST  
Anonymous Lavanya said...

I love jasmine grandiflorum absolute! Growing up surrounded with strands of jasmine flowers (malli poo in tamil, I think sambac is called mogra in Hindi), I was never a big fan! My least favorite thing used to be to wear these strands on my hair. But after coming to the U.S (cliched though that is)- I have begun to appreciate this beautiful smelling flower. And I love the note in perfume and love using the absolute in home blends.

A La Nuit and Love and tears are very different takes but lovely perfumes both.

11:25 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:33 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:34 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfume Oil.

12:35 PM EST  
Blogger monster said...

Star Jasmine is the only kind that grows where I live so it's a good thing I adore it.

1:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tara said...

Great post, Marla! I loved learning more about the botantical types of jasmine. I own SL's Sarrasins but I keep looking for a summery version. Le Parfum de Therese comes closest. That Amouage Attar sounds tempting!

Thanks very much for the draw.

1:13 PM EST  
Blogger dremybluz said...

I like mine with lots of skank so sambac would be my favorite though the others are also great. Thanks for the article and the draw.

2:16 PM EST  
Blogger ~elise said...

The more indolic, the better! SL A La Nuit is perfect for me!

2:27 PM EST  
Blogger MoonRae said...

I also have some vintage Joy and I like that but I don't really know alot about Jasmine(I do have a nice oil that's aging well)
Thanks for the lessons and giveaway!!

3:25 PM EST  
Anonymous hongkongmom said...

I love pure jasmine sambac essential oil. And i love, love, love the smell of fresh jasmin from the bush. I haven't yet found a jasmine perfume to love...Thanks for all the info, and great article

6:33 PM EST  
Blogger Janet said...

My sambac froze during a unexpected cold snap this balmy winter. I'll replant one a little more protected soon.

7:59 PM EST  
Blogger Michael said...

Jasmine was my dangerous introduction to natural perfumery, and what an expensive road it has been but filled with so many joys and great people.

Jasmine grandiflorum absolute was the first jasmine I smelled, but I really fell in love when I finally got to sample a jasmine sambac. I haven't smelled the absolute of auriculatum on its own, but your description has me itching to.

Thanks so much for sharing your love of jasmine, and for the wonderful draw!


8:08 PM EST  
Blogger Norma said...

What a great draw! Put me in the club of perfumistas who appreciate a nice dirty jasmine. Need the skank! I adore Joy.

10:17 PM EST  
Blogger Florentina said...

I love the smell of jasmin grandiflorum and I love the beautiful flowers of sambac! I love them all.
My favourite jasmin perfume of all was one of my childhood. Someone gave it to my mother as a gift, a tiny tiny rectangular bottle filled with a gold heavenly scent. It was from Greece and I bet it was all natural. No name. I was immediately attracted to it, much more than my mother :) and used to put a drop on my scholar scarf just before going to school. It lifted my spirit in a second! (I hated going to school sometimes...). I don't know what kind of jasmin was, but I still remember the scent and it wasn't too sweet, it had a bittery note as well. Unfortunately, I don't have the tiny bottle anymore...
Thank you for making me remembering this... And thank you for the draw!

2:51 AM EST  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Have not explored jasmine as a note yet but would love a chance to try this. Believe I would like a skanky jasmine best!

10:13 AM EST  
Anonymous maggiecat said...

I love jasmine and had quite a bit of luck growing it when I lived in Florida. The day I left to begin the long drive to Texas, the last thing I did was pick a few of the flowers and put them in my pocket - which i've done on the few occasions I've been back as well. I tend to prefer wearing the lighter jasmines, and enjoy Jo Malone's Honeyscukle and Jasmine and Badgley Mischka's Fleurs de Nuit as well.

2:12 PM EST  
Anonymous organa begum said...

Sambac! A la Nuit is my favourite jasmine fragrance. Please enter me in the draw.

2:36 PM EST  
Blogger trishanne said...

i like the real thing. i try growing it almost every year as a houseplant but it never works. just like gardenias, they always drop their leaves and die. i prefer sambac because i like that earthiness. it's funny how people get so used to the synthetic stuff they don't like the real thing. i like jasmine green tea as well. love to smell that wafting up from the cup. it's definitely therapeutic for me.

3:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The memories are so beautiful, I'm really happy reading all your comments! And I'm learning a lot more about jasmine, too. Thanks!

4:28 PM EST  
Anonymous Patricia said...

This coincides with my massive jasmin flower craving last during the whole of last year so I tried to find out as uch as I can about jasmin. My favourite seem to be the ones mixed with some other, softer flowers or or green-ish jasmins, not exactly soliflores. I'd like to own Samsara but I think nicest one I tried is Alien and its flankers. I'd like to try M. Harris' La Pluie very much.

4:37 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a major Alien fan, I'm with you on that one! But you can also buy some natural jasmine absolute or Co2 and combine with perfumer's alcohol to get your jasmine fix....

6:17 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similarly to others, I have not found my favorite Jasmine scent --besides the originals. I love fresh Jasmine, so, hope I do find a Jasmine perfume one day. I would *love* to try Blue Jasmine. Thanks for the draw! rachel

12:01 AM EST  
Blogger Balutakat said...

agreed, the Lutens version is heavenly. But I only recently started liking jasmine, for some reason it used to wrinkle my nose, in my twenties and thirties. Thanks for this quick lesson, Marla, such a fun draw! Katherine

2:33 AM EST  
Blogger KathyT said...

I've never smelled jasmine flowers, but I do love the confederate jasmine that grows here in the southern U.S. I love Guerlain's Jasminora for a light jasmine scent.

9:24 AM EST  
Anonymous Maureen said...

I like Samsara, that has jasmine in it. I love most Chanels, but not sure which has jasmine. I would love to try this fragrance...thanks for the draw.

11:24 AM EST  
Anonymous Maureen said...

I like Samsara lightly applied. I have a BBW aromatherapy called jasmine vanilla...the body wash & lotion are nice, but the mist is really synthetic smelling. I would love to try this fragrance. thanks for the draw.

11:28 AM EST  
Anonymous Smedley said...

Thanks for the opportunity to be entered in the draw for the Bellyflowers jasmine sample. Love their name!

I adore jasmine because it can be utilized in so many ways: fresh, green, lush, sensual, skanky, etc.

Here are my favorites:
Etat Libre d'Orange Jasmin et Cigarettes
Patou Joy
Van Cleef and Arpels First
Lush Lust
and my favorite favorite is
Givenchy Organza (Recolte 2007)
-- a limited edition with the jasmine note highlighted. I find it to be beyond gorgeous.
Thanks again for the opportunity.

12:24 PM EST  
Blogger Jamie said...

Musk perfume is one the best smells, along with ylang-ylang and jasmine.

buy herbal incense online

2:34 PM EST  
Anonymous Shelley Novotny said...

I love jasmine essential oil. I had no idea there were so many different varieties. I just found your blog and love it. I love smelling extraordinary things.

Shelley Novotny

5:11 AM EST  
Anonymous Parfymerad said...

Thanks for the sciencey info, really fascinating. Am completely obsessed with jasmine-centric perfumes at the mo - from the sweet & innocent to the skanky, so I guess that would mean I like both the sambac and grandiflorum varieties.

Current favourites include: Songes edp&edt, Alien gout du parfum, Nasomatto Nuda (it reminds me of the jasmine in Joy parfum, which is probably the most magnificent jasmine perfume I know), BK Love and Tears, Yves Rocher Tendre Jasmin, First edp.

Would love to get to know the stuff in its natural state, so please do include me in the draw :

8:10 AM EST  

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