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Cardamom: Ingredient Guide, Info, Smell & More!

Describing ‘what does cardamom smell like’ can be difficult.

At first, the aromatic spice smells earthy-sweet and nutty but becomes smoky and a bit spicy when you inhale deeply.

The spice dates back to the Vedic times (3,000 BC) and has since been spicing up the fragrance industry—it was one of the key fragrance ingredients used in Greek perfumes.

Cardamom’s costly. It’s rated the third in the list of most expensive spices in the world (after vanilla and saffron), but it’s incredibly aromatic that only a dash of the essential oil distilled from cardamom seeds is required.

It’s also widely used in South Asian cuisines, primarily as a flavor for masala chai, but its camphorous properties are ideal for freshening breath.

There are two types of cardamom—the earthy, woody black cardamom and the minty, eucalyptus-like green cardamom.

Black cardamom fragrances smell like a dream in oriental blends, while the aromatic green cardamom adds a touch of sweetness to men’s perfumes.

What is Cardamom?

Dubbed the “queen of spices,” cardamom is extracted from the seeds of various plants in the Zingiberaceae or ginger family.

While it’s native to South Asia and a prominent ingredient in Indian curry, the 21st Century cardamom is produced in Guatemala, Malaysia, and Tanzania, with Guatemala being the major exporter.

There are two subspecies of cardamom—Elettaria (green cardamom) and Amomum (black or white cardamom).

Green cardamom pods are tiny and light green.

They also feature the most acknowledged cardamom flavor: herbal warmth like an aromatic amalgam of eucalyptus and mint, and peppery, even a bit spicier than fennel but sweeter than cumin.  

The pods of black cardamom are comparatively larger and dusky brown.

They mimic the flavor profile of Elettaria but with a more smoky aroma.

Cardamom seeds, oils, and herbal extracts also feature excellent medicinal properties and have been a favorite in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

What Does Cardamom Smell Like?

As you know, cardamom is an excellent addition to spicy and sweet dishes, but it’s the longest-kept secret in perfumery.

Its mysterious, smokey scents combined with hints of fruity notes usually marry well with other flavors to form ‘world-class’ fragrances.

That’s the reason it’s rated as the most valuable spice together with saffron.

For some, cardamom smells like a warm, ambery aroma with a touch of Tonka bean scent.

Many have compared it to earthy herbal tea with a hint of milk, giving it the almondy or ambery aroma.

It, however, doesn’t smell like cloves or even cinnamon.

Cardamom also features a darkish smell, which is why it’s often used to spice up citrusy scents like grapefruit, neroli, bergamot, sweet orange, mandarin, and lemon.

It can also be more sumptuous when blended with amber, sandalwood, oud, or patchouli.

When ground into powder though, cardamom loses its fragrance fast.

What Scent Family is Cardamom?

Cardamom is classified as a fresh, slightly sweet, and very aromatic smell with a mint-ish effect.

It’s used in almost all fragrance classes but is ideally suited for woody and oriental scent families, making it perfect for eau de colognes.

What are the Benefits of Cardamom?

Apart from lowering blood sugar and boosting libido, the spicy ingredient also works to:

Prevent Bad Breath

Cardamom oil features cineole, an active compound that boosts oral hygiene and eradicates bacteria that cause bad breath. 

Treat Skin Allergies

Black cardamom features antibacterial properties. Applying ground cardamom and honey mask to the affected spots can provide relief.

Give a Calming Effect

Since it gives off a minty vibe, the condiment is the perfect stress reliever.

You can mix it with your black tea, coffee, or hot chocolate and enjoy its pleasant and relaxing aroma.

Serve as the Perfect Cooking Ingredient

Like cloves, whole green cardamom pods are an ideal cooking ingredient for curries, biryanis, pulaos, and other spicy dishes.

As the shell integrates when cooking, it seamlessly infuses your food, giving it a savory taste.

Since the flavor-packed herb has a sweet but spicy taste, its seeds help add flavor to soups, stews, and purees.

It’s also perfect for flavoring all forms of pastry dishes compared to cinnamon.

There are several incredible cardamom-based recipes.

Two of the most popular are Homemade Chai Tea Latte and Mint Flavored Quinoa.

Balance Your Dosha

In Ayurvedic medicine, the herb is considered an essential spice—a tridoshic, meaning it helps balance all the doshas: Kapha, Pitta, and Vatta.

The cardamom smell typically offers calming properties that help soothe your body.

Is Cardamom Feminine or Masculine Scent?

Now comes the most intriguing question in the fragrances community: does cardamom work as a masculine or feminine scent?

Well, since it offers a versatile smell, most perfume companies use it to produce fragrances for both men and women.

Best Perfumes with Cardamom Notes

Some of the best cardamom perfumes include:

1. Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme

If you want to find the answer to ‘what does cardamom smell like?’, you should check out this evening pick-me-up.

Small quantities of the herb give the fragrance a spicy yet smokey scent, while cedar and coumarin give it a woody aroma.  

2. Miller Harris La Fumee Classic

The condiment isn’t the show-stopper in this perfume, but that doesn’t stop it from giving you a resinous and smoky smell.

It blends with cumin and coriander for spice and provides you with ambery notes, which leave you smelling fresh all day long.

3. Kenzo Jungle L’elephant

The flavor-packed herb plays a significant role in Kenzo Jungle together with myrrh and agarwood.

The caraway note smells minty while myrrh provides a sensual, animalistic vibe. It’s the perfect pick for a date night.

The Bottom Line

Answering the question ‘what does cardamom smell like?’ feels more like a quantum-physics test.

However, based on this article, it’s clear that cardamom fragrances smell more alluring compared to clove and cumin-based perfumes.

The best way to find out how it smells is by either trying a cardamom perfume or using the spice as an essential oil.

We hope you now know the answer to ‘what does cardamom smell like?’. Thanks for reading!

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