Talking about Tonka

The Tonka bean. The flat, wrinkled legume from South America that so often goes undeservedly unnoticed. Well, we at Ashleigh & Burwood think our fragrant friend has gone unnoticed for too long and want to give you the low down on the scentsational bean we’ve come to know and love.

  1. Tonka beans possess a scent reminiscent of vanilla, as well as cinnamon, saffron and cloves. Powdery and sweet, the Tonka bean has a warm, gourmand character.
  2. …The scent of Tonka beans has also been compared to that of cherry and almond – yum!
  3. The Tonka bean is produced by the Cumaru tree, a large tree found in the tropical rainforests of South America, with some of the largest producers of the Tonka bean being Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana.
  4. The Tonka bean began its career in perfumery in 1793, when farming of the South American plant began in France, grown as a tropical tree with pretty purple flowers each containing one bean.
  5. The name ‘Tonka’ originates from the Galibi language, a tongue native to French Guyana – the Galibi word ‘tonqua’ or ‘tonquin’ actually translates to ‘bean’.tonk
  6. In Pagan and Occult tradition, it is believed that the Tonka bean possesses magical properties. Crushed Tonka bean brewed in herbal tea is thought to help cure the soul, banish negative thoughts and boost the immune system. It’s also believed that if you hold a Tonka bean in onehand and make a wish, it’ll come true (worth a shot)!
  7. The Tonka bean is a source of coumarin, which also occurs naturally in cinnamon, lavender, liquorice and other commonly consumed plants.
  8. Due to its distinct vanilla quality, the Tonka bean is frequently used as a vanilla replacement.
  9. Although the Tonka bean is popular in sweet dishes such as Tonka bean ice cream, Tonka bean panna cotta and Tonka bean crème brulee, amongst other delicious desserts such as truffles, it’s also a key player in savoury French stews.
  10. The scent of Tonka bean shares similar characteristics to tobacco and amber and consequently pairs well with these notes, as well as patchouli and sandalwood.

Bonus Fact. Ashleigh & Burwood are launching an Amber & Tonka Bean Lamp Fragrance. Keep your eyes peeled for this sumptuous addition!