Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Episode 37: Bergamot (or, Bergamot-a Spice, Surprise, Surprise)

The was meant to be put up yesterday because hey! regular posting schedule, but I had an internet blackout, and so here it is, late. Surprised? Nah. Bergamot is one of my favorite, favorite perfume notes but before I started getting more interested in the why's and how's of perfume, I thought it was a spice, along the lines of like... cardamom or something (is that a spice?). I was surprised to learn so much about a fave, and I hope you will be, too. Here we go.

Citrus bergamia

Yes, you read right. Bergamot is a citrus note, in fact extracted from the bitter orange. While the fruit of this plant is not known to be edible, the peel is used in a variety of ways, from flavoring foodstuffs, to aromatherapy to cosmetics. However, when used in large quantities, bergamot oil can be toxic, and it can be unsafe in skin care due to its photocarcinogenic and phototoxic properties. However, that doesn't stop bergamot essential oil from being a popular addition to everything from tea, to perfume. Bergamot is known for its ability to relax and improve mood, while boosting digestive functions (if taken internally). The oil has a watery viscosity and can be green to green-yellow in color. The first record of bergamot as a fragrance component is in the original 4711 Cologne, from Germany in the 18th century.
From Harvey Prince
Bergamot is one of the most popular notes in perfumery today, and it has a light citrus-y, spicy quality that is also warm and sweet. It is most often found as a top note, but with the right fixatives it can act well as a heart note, too. It mixes well with many other scents and so it can be found in a variety of fragrances. Some popular scents that use bergamot include the 4711 Original Eau de Cologne, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de l'Homme. Information from Wikipedia, Esoteric Oils and Harvey Prince.

Via Wikipedia user Itineranttrader
I remember very vividly my first exposure to bergamot. It was when I was a young teen, and I had gotten the idea that drinking tea was very classy and highbrow. We only had weird herbal teas, and regular old Lipton's at my house, so one day at a restaurant, I ordered hot tea. When offered the selection, I chose Earl Grey because I thought it sounded classy. I was actually quite put off by the taste and smell! It wasn't until years later that I developed a taste for the unique odor of bergamot, but now both bergamot and Earl Grey rank among my favorite things. So that's kind of how I'd suggest you familiarize yourself with the scent - do you like the smell of Earl (or Lady) Grey tea? Yes? Then you like bergamot. No? Then you don't. Granted, this scent mixes well with others, so as always it is possible to like perfume with bergamot notes, and not like the scent in its self!
So now we've done another of my favorites! Next time I run this series (I still can't guarantee it will be weekly) I am going to try and pick something that isn't a fave and, more importantly, isn't a citrus! How surprising that someone who doesn't like traditional citrus scents would like so many citrus notes? Is that why perfume is fun? Pleasant journeys!


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