Bee and Flower – Jasmine

“Opium Box”

I love this Chinese soap, Bee & Flower, which comes from God knows where China and is distributed by Prince of Peace Enterprises in California (I believe they are a ginseng distributor, as I recall). There are several varieties, which I'll, soap willing, get to eventually. This one is Jasmine, maybe my favorite, and it comes in a double wrapped package, the outer paper an elaborate floral print, and then, over that, two band seals with multicolored designs, and even a gold metallic seal. From the packaging you'd think it was the most expensive soap on the market, but it's the cheapest—it's kind of concerningly inexpensive.

The bar of soap itself is a sculptured shape that recalls Chinese architecture, maybe, or perhaps a small, wooden Chinese box, with edges at 45 degree angles, and a complex, bumpy texture. I guess it's supposed to be something, but I don't know what it is—maybe a box that opium comes in? I think of it as a magical box that unlocks the mystery of the Orient. It's a gentle, impossibly light green color that makes me think of celadon, but is probably lighter than that. The smell is that distinctive, kind of sharp, floral Jasmine tea smell, almost harsh, but really pleasing. It says instantly that you are in good hands, you will smell like a spring garden and be clean. I imagine it might be artificial, this scent, but maybe not—I don't have the sophistication to tell. It's not real subtle, but I love it. This is the go-to soap for hard times (due to its price) but it doesn't feel at all like a compromise.