Bai Dai Str, Tien Xuan Commune, Thach That District, Hanoi City, Vietnam
More than an ingredient, ginger oil has fascinated millions of people for hundreds of years by its unique and captivating scent, benzoin has become an essential ingredient in premium perfumes. In the high mountains of northern Vietnam, benzoin has become a traditional profession of ethnic minorities, a hereditary profession, creating jobs and income for farmers in addition to their staple crops of rice and vegetables.
Benzoin is the fragrant, resinous exudation secreted by a tree – the Styrax tonkinensis – after an attack by a parasite or an incision in the trunk. In June, the styrax growers manually tap the tree, making multiple incisions on the trunks of mature trees to encourage exudation of the precious gum.
After only a few weeks, the white, brittle tears of benzoin flow down the trunk. Oxidation of the tears, caused by contact with the air, will give them a superficial, orangey-brown color. Harvesting the tears do not take place until December and January.
Styrax tonkinensis comes mainly from the northern highlands of Vietnam & Laos between 800 and 1,600 meters’ altitude. This large tree was identified by botanist L. Pierre, who named it Anthostyrax before it was renamed Styrax tonkinensis. It is also called Benzoin Vietnam, Benzoin Siam.
The sweet, vanilla-like smell of benzoin is very popular in gourmand perfume compositions.
To address this dwindling heritage, and a consequent drop in livelihoods, Vietnam Essential Oil (VEO), a company founded in Vietnam, has invested in the benzoin value chain for the decades, adopting and upholding an integrated approach that covers all element of benzoin production – from research, production promotion, tree plantations, harvest grouping, pretreatment of benzoin, export, as well as social initiatives. V.E.O has also been instrumental in ensuring international recognition for the Vietnam benzoin.