Ask a PerfumerWhat exactly IS Mastiha?

A question we receive almost on a weekly basis from our fans. We think it is finally time to clear up some misconceptions about this gorgeous and somewhat obscure material.

Olfactive profile and harvesting

Mastiha (also sometimes spelt as mastic or mastica) is a type of resin grown almost exclusively on the island of Chios and is harvested from Pistacia lentiscus tree. The Greek mastic should not be confused with Yemen/Arabic gum since their olfactive profiles are completely different. 

Although harvested from the same tree, the mastic from Chios has a distinctive taste and smell that bears no resemblance to the mastic grown and harvested in (for example) Morocco. It is somewhat reminiscent of pine resin but has a very distinctive “salty-sweet-cool” note. It is speculated that the reason why Chios mastic is so distinctive is due to Chios’ unique soil chemical composition. When planted and grown elsewhere, the same trees from Chios produce a totally different resin.

chios mastic tears resin
Mastiha is commonly used in Greece as chewing gum, indigestion remedy and food flavouring.

Traditional Uses

In Greece, mastic is used mostly in cooking as a flavour ingredient. The resin tears are ground up into a powder and used in just about anything from ice-cream and pastries to soft beverages and cocktails. A highly versatile ingredient, it works beautifully in both savoury and sweet dishes. Traditionally, to this day, Greeks have also used it as chewing gum since it has been proven to aid poor digestion and bad breath. In fact, the Greek practice of mastiha chewing (along with similar practices in other cultures) inspired the creation of chewing gum in the mid 19th century.

Uses in Perfumery

Mastiha is not commonly used in perfumery partly due to it being a very scarce and expensive ingredient that is not easy to source. Here at BARUTI, we source it annually directly from Greece in sustainable quantities. 

You can clearly smell Mastiha in two of our perfumes: Indigo and Berlin im Winter. In Indigo, mastiha gives the fragrance distinctive freshness and a salty facet to the rose. In Berlin im Winter, mastiha produces a certain cooling sensation in the composition.

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