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All About the "Love Bean": Terrific Tonka
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May 17, 2020

The Powerful Effect of Tonka Beans in Perfume

Tonka Beans on a white background.

There are plenty of perfume scents that are truly striking in their nature, yet none more so than the sensual aroma of Maison 21G’s TERRIFIC TONKA creation! Come into our stores, or order online to have your own Tonka perfume. Soon, you will realise that you have the most exclusive perfume in Singapore, freshly made by Maison 21G!

A Little History

The aromatic seeds of the Tonka bean are extracted from a giant, wild tree, native to the deep depths of the Amazon forest. With an adult tree producing approximately 15kg of seeds per year, the annual bean production varies from 60 to 100 metric tons, depending on the year, and of course, greatly on the climate too.

Unprepossessing at first glance, the withered black pod, a little larger than a Brazil nut, is covered with a rather suspicious-looking white bloom… Yet don’t fret, cracked open, the Tonka Bean reveals the thick brown fruit, which releases the addictively intoxicating aroma.

Although packed with Tonka magic, the all-important warm note of Coumarin is another vital component that derives from the Tonka and is exactly the substance that balances the sharpness of the bean’s citrusy top notes.

More Than Just A Bean

Close up of a Tonka Bean.

Widely used in luxury fine fragrances for its intensively balmy, warm, and intoxicating character, it is often depicted with strong charisma. With the Tonka Bean positioned in the oriental genre due to its under-toning notes which are reminiscent of caramel, amarena cherry, and even blonde tobacco; these accents collectively give it its rustic and herbaceous charm.

Moreover, its palatability means that it is often used as a replacement for vanilla, and the notes of warm, spicy clove, and bittersweet almond, along with nuances of hay, make it equally popular with the gourmand-based fragrances.

Initially recognised for their medicinal qualities, the beans were crushed into an herbal tea to boost the immune system, help relieve depression, confusion, and negativity. In addition, this enchanting ingredient was also widely used as a treatment for cramps, nausea, cough, spasms, and tuberculosis.

Moving to its scent recognition, the ingredient was primarily used as a perfume for cupboards, or wardrobes, or even compacted into a powder, which was then sold in small patches to be placed between your linens. Tonka Beans have always been known for their suave and multifaceted nature, and its universal appeal is still seen and even inhaled in a variety of products now, including, detergents, personal wash products, deodorants, and even in tobacco, including e-cigarettes.

From Bean to Oil

Soaked in rum, the Tonka beans are first left to sit for 12 to 24 hours, then dried, to allow the white crystals of Coumarin, the foremost treasure of this raw material, to appear on the surface. These powdery crystals are known to intensify the aroma of the essential oil during extraction, and they’re exactly the secret to the alluring smell!

Having only found their place as a perfume ingredient at a later stage, Tonka beans were first introduced to the French in 1793. Of course, it wasn’t long until they fell into the hands of Guerlain, and voila; it was love at first sniff, and his new fetish was born! In 1921, the French perfume house used the ingredient in Guerlinade by Jacques Guerlain, which was one of the brand's fragrance hallmarks, voicing the company’s favourite natural raw materials. Following on, Tonka Beans have widely continued to be used by Guerlain, and are still integral to the chemical composition of many of their iconic fragrances, including Shalimar (1925).

So, it's safe to say, that no one can simply get enough of this endearing scent; however, what is the real reason for the powerful punch of the Tonka Bean?

An ingredient of carnal richness and significant adhesive properties, it is responsible for the revolution in modern perfumery and is considered one of the most luscious and seductive ingredients in the perfumer’s palette. Often used as a base note in perfumes, not only does it ties other ingredients together, the scent of the Tonka Beans also evolves over time. It becomes richer and deeper, throughout the day, and hence is a dream scent to wear from day to night. It truly is formidable, yet undeniably is versatile and timeless!

Dare we also share, yet another secret to tantalise your taste buds…the rumours circulating the bean often refer to it as the ‘love-bean’, and we can’t deny it!

An Irresistible Scent with a Toxic Secret

Along with a beautiful, sensual scent, the Tonka bean carries a richly intense, delicious flavour. In gastronomy, the beans adapt to different uses according to different countries. For instance, most commonly in Britain, Tonka beans are used in cocktail syrups, or their grated shavings are sprinkled over pastries; whereas French culinary masterminds, largely obsessed with this flavour, calling it ‘fièvre tonka’, ‘tonka fever’, and infuse the ingredient into ice creams and custards.

BUT. Do you know it’s darkest secret? Did you know that this intense flavour in large doses could have a large and unfortunately negative impact on your health?

This issue has been recognized specifically by the US, who made the Tonka Bean illegal for food consumption from 1954. As mentioned previously, the beans contain high levels of the chemical coumarin, which in large quantities could be toxic to the body, specifically the liver, which plays the central role in removing poisonous substances out of the body. Nevertheless, although food containing the bean is considered ‘adultered’, it hasn’t stopped this ingredient from appearing on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants, across America, from New York to California. Furthermore, to our surprise, America remains the largest importer of the Tonka beans flavouring worldwide!

Our Recommended Mixes

Our first recommendation is a fusion of two love scents, a blend that will be perfect for your date…employing our tricks on what to wear to entice and lure the opposite gender, we recommend our scent of TERRIFIC TONKA with our RASPBERRY REDEMPTION fragrance, for a bold, demanding, and addictive scent.  

Or perhaps you want to take a step further and create a fragrance that can be worn during the day, and that can still have the same head-turning effect. Then undeniably, this has to be the pairing of our herby, aromatic, LAVENDER LEGEND perfume along with our irresistible TERRIFIC TONKA!

Finally, if you prefer something to energize you throughout a long day; something warm, uplifting, and rather light, then we recommend the unstoppable blend of TERRIFIC TONKA with our SAGE SUPREME fragrance.

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