Spring's first flowers and Italian style inspires Deborah Fulsang this month…
Fragrance is full of familiar notes (rose, ginger, salt) and not-so-familiar ingredients (coumarin, osmanthus, orris). And so you ask: What is tonka bean?
The bean, defined
Tonka bean is a seed that comes from a flowering tree located in Central and South America. The beans are usually black and wrinkled, and can be used in both perfumery and cuisine although large doses of it can be detrimental to health. (Learn more about its uses in cuisine from this Independent article.) The bean has been used in soaps and tobacco to improve aroma—so you know it’s got a pungent punch.
What does tonka bean smell like?
The bean is most commonly associated to the smell of vanilla. It has a cinnamon-y, spicy, nuttiness that makes it part of the Oriental category of perfume notes, though it can also be characterized as Gourmand because of its sweet, edible-seeming, vanilla-like scent.
What perfumes have tonka bean in them?
Tonka bean is a very common ingredient in perfume. Some of our favourites fragrance— Chanel Coco, Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, Guerlain Shalimar, Prada Luna Rossa Sport and Le Labo Landanum 18 — contain tonka bean.