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Flowers really do intoxicate me. – Vita Sackville-West

According to Chinese medicine, scent has its own healing power, and here in our kitchens when we open a bag of lavender or a satchel of rose petals, we know this to be true.

An arpeggio in time, some invisible intoxicant will transport you, quickly flipping through images back to the moment where the fragrance was fused to your history. Sorrow, comfort, desire, or pain, we are infused with the scents that tangle themselves in our memories and pull us back into the depths of our lives.

It must have been this, centuries ago, that the Emperor of Qianlong experienced when he first met Iparhan – the “Musky Woman” –  known throughout her land for the natural aroma of her body. The Emperor felt compelled to name her his consort. Though she refused to love him, he kept her there and showered her with lavish gifts and gardens, so intoxicated was he by the way she smelled.

What salvation did he find in her aroma? 

The myth of the Fragrant Concubine is short, and unembellished, yet its significance lies in how it has lingered. For centuries the tale has inspired painters, musicians, filmmakers and writers. The people of this story are long gone, and still we seek to capture  her essence, to find a fragrant concubine and breathe in her aroma to soothe ourselves. Each of our elixirs preserves the aroma of the plants we use – a gift to fill your imagination and ease what ails you.

 

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