Lychee (pronounced lai·chee) is a fruity note that adds a sweet and tropical scent to fragrances. It’s also the household name of the lychee fruit, the fruit of the Litchi Sinensis tree native to the tropical rainforests and mountainous hills of Southeastern China.
The lychee fruit and sweet Gewürztraminer wine share a good few aromatic and flavorful compounds—including alcohol, phenylacetate, beta-damascenone, linalool, and vanillin—making their aroma and taste remarkably similar.
To get a whiff of lychee as you’re reading this note profile, picture yourself savoring a tall glass of sparkling Gewürztraminer wine somewhere under the shade on a hot summer’s day.
Lychee fruits smell like sweet grapes with a floral and tropical twist to them. They have a hit of rose and honey, complemented by a light touch of vanilla. At all times, they make the impression of citrusy and soapy freshness thanks to linalool, the alcohol naturally found in them.
The scent of lychee is reminiscent of summer love. As English philosopher Bern Williams famously once said, “If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance.”
Litchi Sinensis is a tall and evergreen tree originating in the coastal Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China. The two provinces border with the South China Sea that’s part of the Pacific Ocean, facing the island of Taiwan.
The locals of the Guangdong and Fujian provinces are documented to have been cultivating it in gardens since the 11th century. Unofficial Chinese records, however, go back to as far as 2,000 BC. According to Kevin Bishop, author of the 1997 book China’s Imperial Way, lychee fruit was considered a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court.
The lychee tree produces small and rounded fruit with sweet, light-pink, soap-scented flesh and a large stone inside a rough, spiky, berry-colored rind. Each lychee fruit weighs approximately 20 grams, and is give or take 2 inches long and 1.6 inches wide.