What Does Sage Smell Like? The Mysterious Aromatics Of Sage

Are you one of those people that think sage smells like Marijuana?

Believe it or not, that is not the most popular answer when someone is asked what sage smells like. But it’s important to note that it does pop up more than occasionally as an answer to that question.


Ok then, so what does sage smell like? First of all, it’s worth noting that everyone’s sense of smell is slightly different just like everyone’s sense of taste. That will explain why you get so many different answers as to what this evergreen herb smells like.

Let’s take a little closer at some facts about sage that will help us determine better the majority opinion of what sage smells like.

What Exactly is Sage?


Most people would describe sage as a small evergreen undershrub that flowers on occasion and is very aromatic. It has long been used as an herb in cooking and both for internal and external medical purposes.

One of its major uses throughout history has been “smudging homes”. Burning incense in the home has been rumored to get rid of negative energy or evil spirits in a home. Apparently, evil spirits don’t like the smell of sage. Too bad we can’t as one of these spirits what they think sage smells like.

Here is a YouTube video that does a better job explaining what sage is and how it has been used throughout the centuries:

What Does Sage Really Smell Like Then?

Is Sage Minty Smelling?

Fresh Sage

Most people would probably say that sage does not smell like mint because they associate minty smells with such things a spearmint, peppermint and other sweet mints. What most people do not realize is there are other plants in the mint family that do not smell like those sweet mints either.

What are some of the plants in the mint family? These would be such herbs as basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Just like sage, none of these plants would be mentioned often if someone asked them to name a minty smelling plant. But some of these smell similar to sage and here there are in the same mint family of plants.

So the case can definitely be made that sage smells minty.

Here are some tips on growing minty sage indoors:

Does Sage Have A Pungent Smell?

There is some that would definitely describe sage as having a pungent smell. The dictionary describes pungent as a powerful and strong smell. Almost somewhat over bearing the smell is so strong.


Reference.com says this smell is due to the fact that there is large amounts of diterpene bitters, camphor and some other chemicals in sage that account for the pungent smell of it. You can read a little more about that here:


So there is a strong case for sage having a pungent smell too.

Is There An Astringent Smell to Sage?

Sage Plant

Those people with a finely tuned sense of smell often describe sage as have an astringent odor about it. This would seem to indicate that sage has a kind of antiseptic smell to it.

This may be because there is kind of a sensation when you inhale sage that is similar to inhaling menthol. It will open up your breathing passages a little and make you feel like you are breathing easier.

What Makes It Possible For Sage To Smell Different To So Many People?


Perhaps we are approaching trying to answer the question what sage smells like in the wrong way. Why is that you may wonder? That is because maybe we have not taken a close enough look at all the different varieties of sage there is. Just as roses smell different so too does it seem that different varieties of sage do to.

That would go a long way toward solving the mystery as to why there are so many different answers as to what sage smells like. That would also indicate that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Sage obviously smells like a lot of different things to so many people.

According to this article, there are over 900 varieties of sage:


Our Final Thoughts on the Smell of Sage


There definitely is a case to be made that sage smells pungent, minty or astringent. There is also a case to be made that it smells like any other number of things too. That even includes people associating its smell with marijuana. When you have a plant that is thought to have some 900 different varieties this is bound to happen.

So what does sage smell like? There apparently is no right or wrong answer. It is like trying to tell someone else how they feel. One thing is for sure and that is people will continue to use sage in many different ways and when they do, they will all have different opinions on how it smells.

About the Author Laura Bennett

Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.

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