What does patchouli smell like? DOPEPLUS.COM

What does patchouli smell like?

Patchouli, Patchouli, Patchouli.

It’s time to take a stroll through a far east market…somewhere where sweet melodies of unique instruments and chatter of merchants drift through the air. Tea houses bustle with people, dried herbs lay in piles perfuming in the hot sun, and dust kicks up below your feet – It’s the kind of place where your senses go wild… all at once.


Surprise: That’s exactly what Patchouli is!

One of the most evocative, and somewhat controversial, scents to date, patchouli has a rich history, and an even richer smell. While some may have negative connotations of patchouli, let’s avoid turning our noses up at this “far out” scent as we begin to untangle the question: “What does patchouli smell like?”.


Let’s kick things off with what Patchouli is.
Defined as “a heavy perfume made from the fragrant essential oil of a southeast Asian mint” (Pogostemon cablin)– Patchouli is “an evergreen perennial herb native to Southeast Asia, with lightly fragrant leaves, and white, violet-marked flowers”.


So if you were thinking far east, you’re getting warmer on the hunt for the truth behind the mystical scent of Patchouli.
How would we describe this particular smell? Woody, earthy, dry and humid at the same time, with rich ambery inflexions, and aromatic somehow medicinal tones.
This scent is simultaneously mysterious and highly evocative, so another way to describe it is to name the atmospheres or places that one whiff of patchouli can transport your senses to.


Patchouli may remind you of…

  • a forest during fall,
  • nature after it rains,
  • wet soil,
  • a cool cave,
  • a far east market
  • or even a music festival (thanks to Woodstock and the 60’s)


Patchouli is not only a rich scent, but it comes with a rich (and somewhat controversial) history as well. Let’s get into the reputation of patchouli versus reality.

Patchouli is commonly associated with the Sixties and the hippy movement– which often elicited mixed reactions. Here, patchouli was often worn in overdose, the smell becoming a sign of recognition for the protesting youth. It became a kind of olfactory incarnation of this time of rebellion, freedom and renewal. Let’s just say, there’s a good reason it’s been described as smelling like a Grateful Dead concert. Fortunately, over time it has moved away from this image.


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