When we updated our website a couple years ago, we started fresh and left our old blogs behind. Missing some of these old stories, we thought we’d republish some of our favorites. Hope you enjoy.
Some people collect wine. Not me, I collect Patchouli. - Evan Healy
My introduction to patchouli started in high school. I went to Laguna Beach High School, and it was simply good Karma.
In those days Laguna was a surfing Mecca (still is); a bohemian art colony with stunning white sand beaches, cool blue oceans, deep green canyons and evenings scented with ocean-misted, fragrant eucalyptus.
I spent my afternoons after school with friends at Mystic Arts Bookstore, a center of hippie art culture: books, Buddhas, waterfalls, psychedelic tie-dyed t-shirts, incense, chanting. That year, when he wasn’t running for governor, Timothy Leary could be found most afternoons at Mystic Arts, and like a beaming, beneficent Buddha he would hold court.
He was a silent instigator of action. We would gather and a few deep breathes later, a slithering plume of fragrant white smoke from a bubbling hookah pipe encircled us as if we were the day's catch in a spider’s web.
But if blue water, deep green canyons and smoky, mystical bookstores were the backdrop, it was patchouli that supplied the heavenly exotic scent that would fill the crevices of our days like the thick mortar of an ancient temple – a scent memory of prayers, chants and adolescent friendships that has remained with me for years.
It was only later that I discovered that what I had been sniffing wasn’t the ‘real deal’ at all but a rather toxic brew of synthetic molecules; never the less the die had been cast…
~ ~ ~ Patchouly. Patchouli. No matter how you spell it, people either love it or hate it, there is never any ambivalence. It comes as no surprise to the people who know me (or that might get trapped in a small conference room with me) that I love it. Like a drug addict, I am known to mainline dribbles of the deep chocolatey oil up and down my arms.
My favorite patchouli is the pure essential oil; it is an aged, understated, hypnotic Indonesian.
Steam distilled patchouli - Pogostemon cablin - comes from the cured and fermented leaf and exhibits notes of sweet earthiness with deep chocolatey, amber-like undertones. I describe it as chocolatey because of its utter richness and aromatic complexity – great patchouli contains full, rich heart notes and exhibits an evolution on the skin that keeps you sniffing your wrist for hours. The fragrance of patchouli can soothe the nerves, calm the mind and quiet the heart.
I keep my stash in a dark and cool, brick-walled cellar. I practically have to blow cobwebs and wipe dust from the dark amber bottles as I draw each one out to sample. The longer patchouli ages the better it gets, like fine wine the aroma softens and matures, getting fuller, rounder, richer and more mellow.
Patchouli is absolutely lovely on its own or blends beautifully with other essential oils such as vetiver, sandalwood, oakmoss, labdanum, cacao absolute, neroli, bergamot, clove or myrrh. I also love it with henna leaf, rose, cinnamon, clary sage or jasmine.
Patchouli is soothing and relaxing to the central nervous system and an over-active mind. It is earthy, calming, grounding and is also reputed to be an aphrodisiac. In which case, try it with jasmine, ylang ylang and maybe a droplet of cinnamon and/or clove. Diluted in coconut or jojoba oil and applied to the skin, patchouli has a remarkable wrinkle-smoothing action on chronically stressed skin, its aroma releasing the grip of jaw-clenching tension often held in the face.
My current favorite is to layer our Whipped Patchouli Vanilla Shea Butter with....more patchouli! Or if I'm feeling exotic, with attars of Saffron, Vetiver, Henna Leaf or Rose. After all, I think to myself as I sashay out the door trailing a fragrant sillage of my own devising... who wants to smell like everyone else?
Experience this intoxicating and grounding scent in our patchouli collection.
The Ritual: Rooibos Masala Chai Tea
After adorning yourself with your Patchouli Vanilla Body Oil, Patchouli Perfume and Whipped Patchouli Shea Butter, it is time to relax even deeper with a cup of spicy, calming tea. Tea rituals and skincare rituals go hand in hand. Both are rooted in ancient tradition with centuries old cultural practices and both are physically beneficial, grounding and soothing to frazzled nerves.
It is often difficult in our lives to find a calm and still moment, but when you do - seize it! Make a cup and write in your journal, sketch, read, or meditate. As with skin care, it is the intention of the ritual that really pays off. Turn off your phone, turn on some of your favorite music, and take slow, thoughtful sips. Cocoon yourself within your ritual.
Aromatic, health supporting, warming chai goes so well with this patchouli skincare ritual that we feel it should be experienced on repeat. Masala chai is mainstream worldwide but originated with Indian and Pakistani tea traditions, where warm spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and peppercorns are mixed and heated with milk. Our favorite way to experience chai tea without caffeine is with a South African Red Bush or Rooibos which are both naturally caffeine free, brimming with antioxidants and have a naturally slightly sweet finish that pairs well with the chai spices.
Don’t forget that drinking hot tea with warming spices will calm your nervous system, relax your muscles and increase blood flow to rejuvenate and nourish skin cells, not to mention, soothe the mind and body, resulting in calmer and softer skin overall. Especially during the cold winter months.
Authentic Masala Chai Tea
Ingredients for 2 cups of tea:
1 cup of your choice of milk (non dairy is fine)
1 cup water
Small piece grated or chopped fresh ginger
2 tea bags or 2 heaped teaspoons of loose organic rooibos tea or high quality black tea and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground masala chai spice blend
Bring one cup water to a boil in a pot, bring down heat to simmer and add the tea bags or loose tea leaves and ½-1 teaspoon of the chai masala spice blend and fresh ginger.
Add milk of your choice to the pot and let simmer on low for a few moments.
Strain and serve. Strain the tea with a sieve when pouring it into a cup or a pot for serving.
Add a spoonful of raw honey if you prefer your tea sweet.
Sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon on top for the delicious flavor and health benefits.
Traditional chai spices offer the best balance of fragrance, warmth, and spice. The strength and quality of spices can vary depending on where you source them. This may require some adjustments to get a chai masala blend you love. Chai spice is completely customizable to your preference.
Cardamom - Use the entire whole green pod. Cardamom is the main ingredient for masala chai. It adds much to the fragrance, so it's important to use the best quality you can find.
Black pepper - Black peppercorns add the bit of spice and fruitiness to masala chai which gives it that zing.
Ginger -pre-ground, dried ginger. It is the only spice that shouldn't be ground from fresh ginger, because it'll turn into a paste.
Cinnamon - Adds spice and sweetness. Don't use too much cinnamon, it shouldn't overpower the rest of your spices.
Cloves - The warming bitterness of cloves counteract all the sweet spices.
Nutmeg - Use fresh nutmeg SPARINGLY. A few generous grindings with a microplane should be enough to add to your entire blend at the very end. Good quality nutmeg will still have the shell on it to preserve the oils. If you are able to get your hands on fresh nutmeg, be sure to peel off the shell first.
Grinding your spices: You'll need a spice grinder, for finely ground spice. If you don't have one, you can also use a coffee bean grinder, food processor or even a blender. The last option is grinding the spices one by one with a mortar and pestle, which may result in coarsely ground spices.
Keep your chai masala spices in an airtight container, and feel free to experiment with ratios, until you come up with a blend that is just right for you.