We were in quite a pickle that night in the hotel room.
We'd just finished harvesting a twenty-year old organic tree that day, where Ensar picked up a fresh chunk of wood to keep as a memento. He took the chunk, which smelled extremely fecal (or like some nicely aged cheese), back to our hotel room. Big mistake!
As the night grew older, the smell of that chip became just too intense, and quickly filled the entire room. It was as if we were stuck in a cheese factory. And this was already after we'd put it in a zip-lock bag!
Yet when we collected the oil from this tree a month later, we got the cleanest, greenest scent we've ever smelled in any oud. It's almost too green!
Crassna Cha's Beginning:
Left to grow in its natural habitat, an agarwood tree can mature for many decades, allowing the fragrant resin to embrace the entire tree. An experienced eye can then pick up the signs that show how resinated the tree is, of what quality, and if it's ripe for harvest.
The process by which the tree produces its fragrant resin is a sheer miracle, and trying to replicate what happens in the wild in a plantation is a very delicate affair. It requires a whole new kind of expertise.
When we arrived in Thailand's oud producing province, we were told that there are more than fifty agarwood farmers in the area. But after clarifying what we expect from the farmers, it turned out we could only work with a couple of people.
To spray the earth and inject oud trees with lab chemicals is nothing strange in these parts; the odd thing to do is not to spray. To harvest a tree only five to seven years old is the norm; the odd thing to do is not to harvest. In fact, the couple of farmers we've come to know as friends over the last few months were the only ones eccentric enough to pull off the kind of distillations we had in mind.
The twenty-year organic aquilaria crassna tree we decided on for this experiment is a fine example of how things can be done right: the tree was left to grow in its natural habitat, not inoculated with synthetic lab chemicals, nor pre-maturely harvested to meet monthly production quota.
At twenty years old, this aquilaria crassna was already moribund, fully resinated, free from chemicals, and fit for harvest.
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