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.
Benzoin Siam is commercialized after it has been cleaned and sorted into three grades, according to its size: grade 1- large tears; grade 2 - medium tears; grade 3 - small tears and powder. The various grades do not present any significant variation of the chemical composition but are the result of the cleaning process. They can have only an impact on the colour of the product during the storage at ambient temperature (from beige to brown colour).
The product presents a strong vanilla smell, is insoluble in water and soluble in ethanol. The sweet, vanilla-like smell of benzoin is very popular in gourmand perfume compositions.
Packing benzoin siam gum
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. VEO has also been instrumental in ensuring international recognition for the Vietnam benzoin.