The Nabeul community perpetuates the know-how of their ancestors as the inhabitants keep alive the tradition of picking and distilling orange blossoms, neroli, geranium and roses.
In North-Eastern Tunisia, the city of Nabeul is the capital of fragrance. The town hosts each year a traditional organic floral water fair and many fair exhibitors specialized in floral waters participate.
To obtain the precious floral water. The magic happens in cylindrical copper vats like this one. Over a naked fire, geranium, roses or orange blossom are rested during several hours. They will eventually turn into floral water through artisanal evaporation.
“We all celebrate the distillation period, fair exhibitor Raja Bousmina, says. Men and women alike, we pick the flowers of wild orange trees in the neighborhoods, to sort them and before we move to the stage of artisanal distillation.”
From the launch of the flower-picking season in April to the production of Z’har, the local term for the distilled plant water, members of the Nabeul community are involved.
They pass on old-age skills and know-how to fill the “Fechka”, these glass bottles with curved body and very narrow neck. “Once the Zahr is ready, comes the turn of the geranium, we take the whole plant, leaves and branches, to make bunches that we then put in the tank of the distiller, with two bunches we can have a well filled Fechka”.
Floral waters have made their way out of sole perfume industry. Orange flower water for example is a fever-reducing remedy and can be used in pastry. Raja Bousmina produces between 2 and 4 thousand liters a year to sell the liter of geranium water at over 3dollars.
If the selling price of the Zhar has decreased, the Nabeul governorate however celebrated a production growth of 8%.