There are plenty of scents which are truly striking in their nature, but none more so than the sensual aroma of Tonka beans in our Terrific Tonka.
What you need to know about Tonka beans...
These aromatic seeds are extracted from a giant, wild tree, native to the deep depths of the Amazon forest; with an adult tree producing approximately 15kg of seeds per year, the annual bean production varies from 60 to100 metric tons, depending on the year, and of course, greatly on the climate too!
Unprepossessing at first glance, a withered black pod, a bit larger than a Brazil nut, covered with a rather suspicious-looking white bloom; yet when cracked open, the Tonka Bean reveals a thick brown fruit, releasing an addictively intoxicating aroma…However, you won’t only find the ‘tonkaness’ in the beans, you will also find the all-important warm note of Coumarin (derived from the tonka bean), which balances the sharpness of the beans citrusy top notes, and which is chiefly responsible for this wonderful, fragrant scent.
Tonka Beans are widely used in luxury fine fragrances for their intensively balmy, warm, and intoxicating character. An ingredient which depicts strong charisma is positioned in the oriental genre, due to its under-toning notes reminiscent to caramel, amarena cherry, and even blond tobacco, giving it a rustic and herbaceous charm. Whilst on the complementary side, this ingredients palatability means that it is often used as a replacement for vanilla, and the notes of warm, spicy clove, and bittersweet almond, along with nuances of hay, make it equally popular with the gourmand-based fragrances too.
The Tonka bean is soaked in rum and let to sit from 12 to 24 hours. The beans are then dried to let the white crystals of Coumarin appear on the surface, the foremost treasure and interest of this raw material, as these powdery crystals are known to intensify the aroma of the essential oil during extraction. They’re the secret to the alluring smell!
Magical power qualities and every-day uses of this ingredient
Initially Tonka beans were recognized for medicinal qualities, with the beans crushed into herbal tea, to boost the immune system, help to relieve depression, confusion and negativity. Moreover, this enchanting ingredient was also widely used as a treatment for cramps, nausea, cough, spasms, and tuberculosis.
In terms of the ingredient's scent, it was primarily used as merely perfume for cupboards, or wardrobes, or even compacted into a powder, which was then sold in small patches to be placed between your linens. Tonka Beans have always been known for their suave and multifaceted nature, and its universal appeal is still seen and even inhaled in a variety of products now, including, detergents, personal wash products, deodorants, and has even in tobacco, including most recently e-cigarettes.
The swift transition into Perfumery…
Nevertheless, surprisingly, Tonka beans found their place as a perfume ingredient only at a later stage. In 1793 the ingredient was first introduced to the French, and it wasn’t long until it came into the hands of Guerlain, who fell in love with the scent; it was truly his new fetish! In 1921, the French perfume house used the ingredient in Guerlinade by Jacques Guerlain, which was one of the brands fragrance hallmarks, voicing the company’s favourite natural raw materials. Tonka Beans have been continued to be used widely by Guerlain, and is still integral to the chemical composition of many of their iconic fragrances, including Shalimar (1925).
I guess it’s safe to say, that no one can simply get enough of this endearing scent!
So, what is the real reason for the powerful punch of the Tonka Bean?
An ingredient of carnal richness, and significant adhesive properties, it is responsible for the revolution in modern perfumery. The Tonka Bean is considered to be, one of the most luscious and seductive ingredients in the perfumer’s palette. It is often used as a base note in perfumes, as not only does it tie other ingredients together, yet the scent of the Tonka Beans evolves over time, becoming richer and deeper, and hence is particularly valuable as a scent to wear from day to night. The Tonka bean is a formidable ingredient that is both versatile and timeless.
Another secret that we dare to share, to further tantalize your taste buds, the rumours of the mystical properties of the bean being an aphrodisiac, a ‘love-bean’ if you like!
Along with a beautiful, sensual scent, the Tonka bean carries a richly intense, delicious flavour. In gastronomy, the beans adapt different uses according to different countries. For instance, most commonly, in Britain, Tonka beans are used in cocktail syrups, or their grated shavings are sprinkled over pastries; whereas French culinary masterminds, largely obsessed with this flavour, calling it ‘fièvre tonka’, ‘tonka fever’, infuse the ingredient into ice creams and custards.
BUT. Did you know its dark secret? Did you know that this intense flavour in large doses could have a large, negative impact on your health?
This issue has been recognized specifically by USA, who made the Tonka Bean illegal for food consumption from 1954. As mentioned previously, the beans contain high levels of the chemical coumarin, which in large quantities could be toxic to the body, specifically the liver, which plays the central role in controlling poisons and clearing them out of the body. However, although food containing the bean is considered ‘adultered’, it hasn’t stopped this ingredient from appearing on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants, across America, from New York to California, and in fact, to our surprise, America remains the largest importer of the Tonka beans flavouring worldwide!
Now aware of the power of Tonka beans in perfume; with a complex, rich, spicy-sweet sexiness to it, it lends an interesting nuance and twist to a wide range of fragrances.
Of course, the two blends you've been waiting for...date friendly love scents! Employing our tricks on what to wear to entice and lure the opposite gender, we recommend TERRIFIC TONKA with RASPBERRY REDEMPTION, for a bold, demanding, and catching scent.
Finally, if you prefer to have something that would energize you throughout a long day, something warm, uplifting, rather light, then we recommend the blend of TERRIFIC TONKA with SAGE SUPREME. Besides, as you'll come to know, these two are the strongest of our strong notes at Maison 21G, and combined they're quite literally unstoppable!