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Cultivated since antiquity throughout Asia, shiso is a versatile plant, serving as a food source, aromatic herb, and medicinal plant, in addition to its fascinating olfactory qualities. The essential oil from shiso leaves has become a natural raw material of choice in perfumery, displaying green, almond, or spicy facets depending on its use and variety.
Shiso: Asia's Sacred Plant
The name "shiso" is derived from the Chinese name for the plant, zǐ sū. Contrary to popular belief, shiso was initially cultivated in China before making its way to Japan. Ancient China saw the cultivation of various shiso varieties, while its introduction to Japan occurred around the third century.
Belonging to the same family as mint and thyme, shiso has been used to flavor many Asian dishes since ancient times. In traditional Chinese medicine, shiso is valued for its dermatological properties, providing soothing and healing benefits for the skin.
With the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine, shiso has reached European shores, where it adds a green, fragrant touch to dishes. Naturally, perfumes seeking to evoke an Asian ambiance incorporate shiso notes for a fresh, exotic, and aromatic experience.
Embark on an Asian Journey with Shiso-Infused Perfumes!
Though the use of shiso in Western perfumery is relatively recent, this aromatic note from Asia contributes a powerful and unique fragrance. Each perfume containing shiso presents a distinct olfactory palette.
Shiso is found in various olfactory families: oriental fragrances for its spicy aromas, while woods, ferns, and citrus scents utilize it for its fresh, grassy, and exotic qualities. Furthermore, shiso is present in both masculine and unisex fragrances.
In the realm of oriental fragrances, Etat Libre d'Orange and Thierry Mugler have incorporated shiso notes in their perfumes, Son of God, Rice and Citrus (2012), and Cuir Impertinent (2015). Shiso appears among the top notes for both fragrances, paired with anise for Mugler and precious aromatics and bergamot for Etat Libre d'Orange.
As for hesperidic scents, Eau de Shiso by Roger & Gallet pays a vibrant tribute to this aromatic herb by creating a sparkling, rich, and velvety blend of woody notes. Shiso takes center stage as a top note, complemented by citrus fruits. Tom Ford's Mandarino di Amalfi also employs shiso in its head notes, resulting in a floral and aromatic harmony.
In the woods and ferns category, shiso graces renowned designer fragrances such as Terre d'Hermès PARFUM, TOKYO BY KENZO, and ckIN2U him by Calvin Klein. In all three fragrances, shiso resides among the heart notes, paired with unique raw materials like cocoa or chili in the case of Calvin Klein.
Shiso's multifaceted scent profile enables a plethora of olfactory accords in perfumery. However, it is worth noting that shiso is underrepresented in women's perfumes, where it could provide an exotic and fresh touch to fruity notes, for example. Cartier's L'Heure Folle (X) is one such fragrance that successfully showcases shiso's ability to elevate and enhance a perfume's character.
In conclusion, shiso's versatility and unique aromatic qualities make it an exciting and captivating addition to a wide range of fragrances. Its multifaceted nature enables diverse olfactory combinations, providing an alluring and exotic touch to both men's and women's perfumes. As perfumers continue to explore the potential of this sacred Asian plant, we can anticipate a growing number of captivating and innovative scents featuring the remarkable shiso note.