L’Artisan Tea for Two : Perfume Review

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Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

If it is possible to envision a dark smoky composition done in watercolours, which would preserve both the vibrancy of hues and the lucidity, Olivia Giacobetti is the perfumer would be able to execute such an arrangement. L’Artisan Tea for Two (2000) is a fragrance that bears that beautiful Giacobetti-esque fingerprint. It is ethereal without being limpid and sensual without resorting to the tired tricks, a difficult feat indeed. Tea for Two is stunning on both men and women, with its smoky spiciness crossing all barriers and divisions.

Tea for Two is amazing in terms of its ability to change dramatically. The process resembles the development of photos–at first, one sees bare outlines, and then recognizable shapes begin to form. Soaring translucent notes of bergamot and orange blossom fade into the surge of smokiness. The rich tarry sweetness of lapsang souchong is like a vapor rising from a tea cup, hot and expansive.

A note of rubbery and rose redolent wood saturated with honeyed sweetness underpins the base of the composition, and once the smoke of tea fades, the spicy ornamentations are thrown into relief. Cinnamon, anise, and clove cast their jewel-like glow onto the transparent darkness of lingering smoke notes. A creamy facet of the main accord dissolves into the ambery liquid of tea, and just as milk smoothes the astringency of black teas, a lactonic element lends a hazy softness. For me, its autumnal character is accented by the associations with the prolonged tea times that accompany cool weather in Eastern Europe. The memories of dark caravan tea, cherry preserves and honey bread, of dimly lit dinning room and of heated political debates unfold like a beautiful scroll as the fragrance dries down.

L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances are available at Aedes, Barneys New York, Beautycafe, Bergdorf Goodman, Bluemercury, Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and Theperfumeshoppe. Notes include gentian, neroli, bergamot; cinnamon, ginger, smoked tea, aniseed; honey, vanilla, guaiacwood.

Ilya Repin. Apples and Leaves. 1879. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

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25 Comments

  • parislondres: Dear V! I wore this a few years ago – then it wore me out. It is a unique perfume and possibly Oilvia’s strongest creation in terms of lasting power. It lasts for a very long time on me. Your review is perfect (as always) because it really has the ability to change dramatically. Must find my poor ignored bottle and spritz some today. It is a perfect perfume for a gorgeous early autumn day like today. :))

    Hope you have a great day.

    xoxo September 21, 2005 at 2:31am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you, dear N! I revisited Tea for Two after a yearly hiatus, and it was as wonderful as I remembered it to be. Tea for Two and Dzing! are the most potent of OG’s creations, and yet strangely ethereal.

    BTW, have you ever tried her L’Ether Eau de Parfum? If you did, what are your thoughts on it? September 21, 2005 at 2:48am Reply

  • Laura: NST gave me a big decant of this a while ago. I’ll have to retry it now that autumn is (supposedly, though you’d never know it from the temperatures!)here. I remember liking it though thinking it smelled a lot like chai tea. September 21, 2005 at 5:27am Reply

  • parislondres: Hello dear V! Yes I have a few times – it is a gorgeous and strong woody incense. It has a decent lasting power and the bottle looks like a computer mouse. 😉
    Well I have never loved it enough to buy it but I can imagine wearing this in winter months quite happily. One of the SAs there always smells gorgeous and this is what she wears.

    xoxo September 21, 2005 at 7:44am Reply

  • parislondres: PS Dzing is good on others but not one of my favourites. 🙂 September 21, 2005 at 7:46am Reply

  • Laura: Later: I put on Tea for Two this morning and…it is really, really lovely. No chai. I needed to wait for it to evolve, as you said and it is still evolving. I’m having a wrist-affixed-to-nose morning, which makes it hard to paint. I think it is a drawing done in sepia ink with sepia washes and also pale cerulean, pale cadmium orange and pale violet washes in strategic spots. ;D Hey, OG is my new muse! September 21, 2005 at 8:28am Reply

  • Robin: I disliked Tea for Two the first time I tried it, and have been meaning to give it another go…thanks for the great review, V! I hate to leave an Olivia Giacobetti scent in the “no” pile 🙂 September 21, 2005 at 10:07am Reply

  • mreenymo: This is a beautiful review, darling.

    Unfortunately, Tea for Two smells like Thai iced tea on me, so much so that I want to “drink” myself. I ended up giving my bottle away.

    I have no regrets. 🙂

    Hugs! September 21, 2005 at 11:18am Reply

  • anjali: Tea for Two is such a gorgeous scent, one of my fall favorites! It took me awhile to appreciate both it and Dzing! however, even though they are now two of my favorite L’Artisans/OG-creations/favorite scents period. September 21, 2005 at 11:40am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Laura, it is definitely the kind of fragrance that improves when the weather turns cooler. It is very expansive, which is accented in the heat. I wore it over the past few days in the evening, with my a/c on full blast, because it is not something I would brave in 90F weather. September 21, 2005 at 11:42am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: N, thank you for your thoughts on L’Ether. I also love the bottle. Maybe, I should get it for P? 🙂 He might like the fragrance as well as the bottle shaped like a mouse. Oh well, his collection recently increased by 100%. I am sure there will be more to come! September 21, 2005 at 11:45am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, “drawing done in sepia ink with sepia washes and also pale cerulean, pale cadmium orange and pale violet washes…” You captured it so beautifully! I also do not smell chai, although Tania and I had tea at a Vietnamese restaurant recently, and I remarked that this tea should be a perfume. Then we looked at each other and said, “Tea for Two!” It smelled almost exactly like it. September 21, 2005 at 11:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Thank you, R! I could not imagine how an OG fan like you may not like it. 🙂 September 21, 2005 at 11:48am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R (from LA), thank you! I am sure there are plenty of other fragrances to love. One should never regret such things. I do regret giving away my Jean Patou Ma Collection. I still cannot believe I have done it! September 21, 2005 at 11:50am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anjali, Dzing! was not instant love for me either, and neither was Tea for Two. However, I find that fragrances that stretch the imagination and that require more work are the ones that are more permanent in my affections. September 21, 2005 at 11:51am Reply

  • Test Subject: I’m not sure that a bottle shaped like a computer mouse would necessarily be a selling point for me. I’m geeky, but not that geeky 🙂 September 21, 2005 at 11:57am Reply

  • Marina: Wonderful description of a fragrance that was so incredibly vile on my skin. Loved the lapsang souchong in the beginning, but then it turned into the stuff nightmares are made of 🙂 I am actually scared to re-visit it. Maybe I should though. I love CdG Tea, what do you think about that one, Vikochka? September 21, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marinochka, I revisit everything after a period of time passes, because perceptions change. However, sometimes they do not, and that is ok too. CdG Tea is dark and smoky, but it is not as sweet. September 21, 2005 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Tania: Ah, great description of one of my favorite spicy scents. With the rich (tarry, yes) smokiness of lapsang souchong (which is the same bizarre and undrinkable-seeming smokiness that you get if you’ve tasted really expensive insanely old scotch) she manages to make what could be a heavy gourmand combination of mulling spices, cream, and woods seem light and evanescent—not like a food at all, more like a temple incense.

    As the day goes on with this one, it gets better and better, until the whiff that floats up from my collar in the afternoon makes me feel completely giddy with the beauty of it.

    BTW, I’m wearing Dzing! today, and it’s so good that I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to buy a full bottle. Sprayed on in quantity, it’s even better than it was dabbed parsimoniously from a vial. (Volume matters.)

    Cheers for autumn! (And that tea in Bao 111 was really good, wasn’t it?) September 21, 2005 at 12:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, this is perfect! I think that Tea for Two is one of those compositions that make you wonder–is it gourmand or is it incense… It vacillates between the two constantly, and it is the beauty of the composition.

    Dzing! needs to be sprayed. Dabbing somehow does not carry across that ethereal animalic effect.

    I now need to find out what was the tea they offered at Bao 111. Do you happen to remember the name? September 21, 2005 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Tania: Hmm, don’t remember, although I feel fairly confident it was billed as some kind of chai. (Not a true chai, clearly: no milk, no sweetener.) The tea was certainly a smoked tea, as well. September 21, 2005 at 1:47pm Reply

  • Test Subject: Perhaps it was the Moulin Rouge chai? Anyway, here’s the menu: http://bao111.com/menu-dessert.htm. September 21, 2005 at 2:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Your google skills never fail to impress me. Thank you for the link! I think that it was the Moulin Rouge chai. Tania might be able to tell. September 21, 2005 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Tania: *ding ding ding* Yes, we have a winner! Moulin Rouge Chai. September 21, 2005 at 2:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: The bottle is great though!
    It could also be compared to a well polished stone. I think that you would like visiting the boutique–it is very high tech. September 21, 2005 at 12:14pm Reply

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