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Star Anise: A Chinese Spice with a Rich History
Star anise, the fruit of the badian tree native to China, was introduced to the Western world by the renowned explorer Marco Polo. However, its use only intensified several centuries later, as star anise was expensive and had a negative reputation for attracting rodents during times of plague. Yet, star anise had a famous admirer who cherished it—Marie Antoinette. She cultivated the badian tree primarily for its aesthetic appeal and the divine aroma of its dried fruits.
It was not until the 18th century that the beautiful star anise spice became widely used, flavoring drinks and spicing up dishes with a gentle anise touch, which was very pleasant to the palate. The distinct fragrance of this eight-pointed star was later utilized in the creation of essential oils with digestive and stimulating properties. Naturally, perfumers were quick to discover this aromatic spice with powerful fragrances to incorporate into woody or aromatic scents.
The Enduring Romance between Star Anise and Men's Fragrances
For decades, star anise, like many other aromatic ingredients, has been used to create captivating scents for men who have decided to move beyond traditional ferns and woods for more invigorating and original nuances.
In woody, aromatic, or fern-based fragrances, star anise often appears in top notes, paired with other spices or aromatics such as lavender or rosemary. Notable woody perfumes featuring star anise in top notes include Yves Saint Laurent's Rive Gauche pour Homme, Issey Miyake's L'Eau Bleue, and Pierre Cardin's Révélation.
The fern family of fragrances is no stranger to star anise as a key ingredient. For instance, the famous Diesel Fuel for Life, with its surprising multifaceted olfactory profile, opens with top notes of star anise, lavender, and mint.
Star anise has become a star ingredient in men's fragrances, yet some perfumers dare to combine it with unconventional components, such as orientals for men or women, or even citrus notes. Star anise continues to explore new olfactory avenues, delighting our senses with its captivating aroma.