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Orange blossom is the flower from the Citrus aurantium amara variety bitter orange tree. It is also called the bitter orange or Seville orange tree. It is actually a hybrid between a grapefruit tree and a mandarin tree, and is native to the Himalayas.
The bitter term originates from the Provencal word Bigarrat, which means "multicolored".
Neroli essential oil is the product made from the steam distillation of the freshly picked flowers. The term Neroli dates back to the end of the 17th century. At the time, Anne-Marie de la Trémoille, princess of Nerola who rubbed shoulders with Italian high society, was used to wearing excessive amounts of orange blossom as perfume. Its scent was so distinctive that people enthusiastically exclaimed, “it smells like Neroli!”
At the end of the distillation process, we obtain the delicately scented essential oil which floats on top of the water from the distillation. This is the orange blossom water used in cosmetics and cooking.
If flowers are extracted with volatile solvents, the smell will be heavier and you obtain absolute orange blossom.
In Chinese tradition, orange blossoms are used in brides’ crowns as a sign of purity, chastity and innocence. The tendency for Eastern customs from the beginning of the 19th brought this tradition to Spain, France and Italy. It was namely Queen Victoria who brought back this famous tradition by wearing a garland of orange blossom for her wedding in 1840.