Intensly sweet and fragrant resin from the Styrax tonkinensis tree. Popular in perfumery and as an incense.
Latin name: Styrax tonkinensis
Harvest location: Vietnam
Scent: balsamic, sweet, vanilla
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The beautiful looking benzoin almonds are a popular material in the aroma industry, but also as incense. Anyone who has been to Orthodox churches will be familiar with the scent of benzoin, as it is used in incense blends there.
In the Middle East, we also find benzoin in traditional bakhoor blends, and in Japan, benzoin resin is also popular in incense due to its fragrance and good fixing properties.
The scent of benzoin is very intense and you need very little of it when burning incense. The fragrance is particularly effective when mixed with other resins and woods.
When smoked, benzoin has a very relaxing and calming effect, especially on our emotions and stressed nerves.
Benzoin resin comes from the benzoin tree, a shrubby deciduous tree that belongs to the styrax family. The benzoin tree has grayish bark, leaves as we know them from our deciduous trees, but beautifully fragrant white flowers.
The bark of the tree is removed so that a yellowish resin seeps out of the wound: the precious and sweet-smelling benzoin resin.
Although there are numerous benzoin trees and varieties, the resin from Siam and Sumatra are the best known. The Benzoe Siam resin (Styrax tonkinensis) grows in many places around the world, such as Vietnam and Thailand, while the Benzoe Sumatra resin (Styrax benzoin) grows, as the name suggests, only in Sumatra.
Both benzoin species look very similar, but the benzoin resin from Sumatra is sometimes a bit darker and more reddish than the resin from Siam. The scent is also very similar: vanilla, sweetish. But there are subtle differences in the fragrance profile here as well. The benzoin resin from Siam has a distinct vanilla scent and contains benzoic acid, but no cinnamic acid.
The benzoin resin from Sumatra is very similar to the scent of the resin from Siam, but it has a more distinct styrax scent and also contains cinnamic acid. So it smells a little spicier and not as intensely vanilla as benzoin from Siam.
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