These fragrant Benzoin almonds - Styrax benzoides
- come from Siam (Thailand). These are 1st Choice select benzoin almonds. The name "benzoin" is probably derived from Arabic lubān jāwī (لبان جاوي, "Javan frankincense"). This shows that the Arabs were aware of the origin of these resins, and that by the late Middle Ages, international trade in them was probably very important.
Benzoin resin has a sweet, balsam-like fragrance resembling vanilla. It does not have a very pleasing aroma by itself, but when mixed with other ingredients, it develops into a wonderful aromatic experience.
Benzoin has been long used as an incense ingredient by many civilizations, known in Europe during the middle ages as "Friar's Balsam." Since antiquity, styrax resin has been used in perfumes, some kinds of incense, and medicines. The natural gum is collected from deep incisions made into the tree trunk, hardens on exposure to the air and is collected.
There is some degree of uncertainty as to exactly to which resin old sources refer. Turkish sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis)
is an unrelated tree in the family Altingiaceae, which produces a similar resin traded in modern times as Storax or as "Levant styrax". Turkish sweetgum is a species that occurs only in a small area in SW Turkey, rather than the Levant region (Eastern Mediterranean) .
Presumably, some of the "styrax resin" of the Ancient Greek and Roman sources was from this sweetgum, rather than a true styrax. It has been noted that it was imported in quantity from the Near East by Phoenician merchants, and Herodotus of Halicarnassus in the 5th century BC.
The nataf (נטף) of the incense sacred to Yahweh, mentioned in the Book of Exodus, is variously translated to the Greek term staktḗ (στακτή, AMP: Exodus 30:34), or an unspecific "gum resin" or similar term (NIV: Exodus 30:34). Nataf may have meant the resin of Styrax officinalis or of some other plant, perhaps Turkish sweetgum, which is unlikely to have been imported in quantity into the Near East.
Since the Middle Ages, Southeast Asian benzoin resins became increasingly available. Today there is little international trade in S. officinalis resin and little production of Turkish sweetgum resin due to that species' decline in numbers.
Benzoin is warm, relaxing and calming and popular to use in the evening mixed with sandalwood. It has been known to stimulate imagination and creative work.See also our Incense Supplies
Per ounce/28 grams $ 11.75
Per 4 ounces/112 grams $ 44.75
Per 1/2 pound/224 grams $ 80.00
Per pound/448 grams $ 140.00