Toasted rice, sesame and jasmine
v. to cook or brown by exposure to a grill, fire, or other source of radiant heat.
n. a call to a gathering of people to raise their glasses and drink together in honour of a person or thing.
Toast is the the first scent I (Lauren, Yorabode’s production lead) have designed. Everything I know about scent design comes from being in the studio with Emily over the last two years. I’ve watched her create the scents you all love and unknowingly absorbed some of that creativity over time. However, when she suggested I make a scent of my own, I was pretty wary—excited—but wary.
At first, I was determined to come up with something that meshed with our other scents. I tried to get into Emily’s head to create something she would. Thankfully, a friend put a halt to this impossible pursuit by suggesting I use my love for food as inspiration. If you’re a fan of Yorabode, you know this isn’t particularly on brand, but it got my wheels turning.
Toast comes straight from my heart and my stomach. It started with the thought of toasting rice—a task I sometimes loathe if I’m eager to eat but the warm scent always makes it worth it. As my ideas developed, I decided to attempt to mimic the smell of genmaicha (also known as brown rice tea). If you’ve never had a cup of this Japanese tea, I highly recommend it. It’s sweet and nutty from the toasted rice plus floral and earthy from th
e jasmine tea. Now, if you have had it and you’ve smelled Toast, you’ll notice the two are pretty different.
Surprise, surprise—scent design is really tricky. Rice essential oil doesn’t exist—tea oil doesn’t either in non-synthetic forms. Instead, I used a process called maceration, which we also use for our other scents. Maceration is simple, but takes time and patience. It involves taking a plant and steeping it in a neutral oil. Over time, the scent of the plant is infused into the oil. For Toast, the process is toasting brown rice and sesame seeds until golden brown, grinding them up and adding that grainy mixture to an oil. I also attempted the same thing with loose jasmine tea; however, it developed into a barely-there scent.
Once I discovered how much scent I could yield from these two experiments, I took to our shelves of essential oils. There was quite a bit of trial and error and I often lost my direction but Emily helped to keep me on track. Eventually, I landed on the blend that you may or may not have smelled by now. It’s sweet, cozy, floral, and a bit earthy, and I’m really proud of it.
If you’re intrigued by scent design but have no idea where to start, I recommend you look to your favourite memories and experiences and try to draw inspiration from there. You’d be surprised by what you can come up with.
Toast was inspired by my very favourite kitchen partner who makes every meal taste better just because they’re eating next to me. It’s also a love letter to anyone I’ve shared a pot of tea, cutting board, or sprinkled sesame seeds with.
Here’s to breaking bread and toasting rice.