Her breasts, like lilies, 'ere their leaves be shed;
Such fragrant flowers do give most odorous smell
But her sweet odour did them all excell.
Jasmine (jasminium officinale and jasminium grandiflorum) is a member of about 200 species of shrubs and climbing vines native to tropical areas of southeast Asia, Africa and Australia. Mature plants are usually up to 3 meters high and 2 meters wide.
Jasmine is grown extensively in Cannes and Grasse in France, and is also produced in Morocco, Italy, India, China, Japan and Egypt.
The popularity of jasmine has resulted in many species of jasmine being grown worldwide.
True jasmine is a climbing vine with oval, shiny leaves and tubular, waxy-white flowers. Two types of jasmine are used for oil production; j. grandiflorum and j. officinale. The oil of the two flowers types is virtually identical.
Jasmine has a heavy, rich, animal-like quality akin to musk oil in its sensuous effects but is also calming and relaxing.
It contains over 100 ingredients including jasmolactone, jasmone, and methyl jasmonate.
Jasmine has been considered an exotic and powerful aphrodisiac since antiquity. In India, jasmine is called "moonshine in the garden" and ancient Indian paintings depicted lovers bathing in moonlight near jasmine plants.
Ancient Asians wrote that jasmine penetrated the deepest layers of the soul and opened emotions.
In China, the relaxing jasmine tea has been a popular beverages for thousands of years. In the Sung Dynasty, the Emperor had several hundred pots of Arabian Jasmine moved into his courtyards, filling the palace with fragrance.
Cleopatra is said to have wooed Anthony with jasmine oil and Louis XVI had a passion for jasmine scented sheets. It is still the favorite fragrance of French women.
Jasmine resin is extracted from flowers by an extraction process known as enfleurage, or fat maceration, a process which used fat to absorb the volatile aromatic compounds from the living flower.
The enfleurage extraction process begins with the hand-picking of the jasmine flowers after they open at night.
The freshly picked blooms are laid out on panes of fat covered glass and stacked so the aromatic volatiles don't escape into the air.
This process is repeated for several days with new layers of fresh flowers, until the fat is saturated with aroma.
The saturated fat is next melted under very low heat, then filtered. The aromatic compounds are extracted from the fat with alcohol, then the alcohol is gently distilled away to leave behind the pure essence.
Jasmine absolute oil is used in perfumes and body lotions and produced by using a gentle solvent on delicate jasmine flowers.
2,000 pounds of the hand-picked blossoms to yield 1 pound of jasmine oil.
Jasmine absolute is a dark orange or brown to reddish liquid that becomes darker and more fragrant with age.