Bulgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert : Perfume Review

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Munnar tea plantation 2

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

Despite having been around for almost 20 years and having served as an inspiration for numerous tea fragrances, Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert has lost none of its appeal. Its misty tea accord wrapped into a layer of citrus and violet toned woods still seems exciting and original. While its name promises a familiar scent, Thé Vert delivers a novel experience. For me, it does not so much evoke the aroma of green tea, as it conveys the freshness of morning air, the bitterness of fresh leaves, the sweetness of nightblooming jasmine dissipating as the sun comes up…

Pure serendipity led to Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert being launched under the Bulgari label. Originally, perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena developed this woods and tea etude for Christian Dior as part of the Fahrenheit project. Instead, the mod that blossomed into Thé Vert was turned down. Perhaps, in the end, this was a lucky turn of events, since a big masculine launch from Dior is not likely to have retained the very elements that make Thé Vert such a beguiling composition—transparent softness and elegant minimalism.

I find that the most beautiful aspect of Thé Vert is how cleverly it interprets the classical citrus eau de cologne theme, rendering it fresh, memorable, and above all, timeless. The bergamot and pepper provide the immediately recognizable and alluring freshness, but at the same time, Thé Vert feels soothing and tender on my skin, in contrast to the exhilarating brightness of of a classical cologne. Ellena builds the composition on the accord of two important materials in the perfumer’s palette—violet and jasmine. However, here violet is played by the soft, hazy ionones and jasmine by luminous, lemony hedione.

While the main impression of Thé Vert is a misty, green citrus, it has an intricate floral heart accented with rose absolute and orange flower. These floral touches, along with a discrete hint of coumarin, round out the composition, lending it complexity and softness. The contrasted leitmotif of warm and sparkling, sweet and bitter, spicy and tender is maintained as Thé Vert dries down to an elegant, finish of woods and moss. While it is a sheer fragrance, it has excellent diffusion and a recognizable signature that would suit men and women alike. While Thé Vert is uplifting and bright, it nevertheless clings to the skin like warm silk, thus making for another irresistible contrast.

Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert (fragrance family: citrus) includes notes of bergamot, orange blossom, cardamom, coriander, pepper, jasmine, rose, woods, green tea. Available from major retailers and online. Similar fragrances include Jean-Claude Ellena’s own The Different Company Osmanthus, a bolder, richer composition, Hermès Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, a richer citrus idea. Calvin Klein CkOne, L’Occitane Green Tea, and L’Artisan Thé pour un Été also explore the same radiant tea idea. There is also Bulgari Exreme Au Thé Vert, a version embellished with richer rose and orange blossom notes and smoky woods.

Photography © Bois de Jasmin, Munnar tea plantation, India.

Sample: my own acquisition

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38 Comments

  • Olfactoria: I love this one! I was a major Ellena fan (I am still, but I have branched out a bit) and this was a must have, of course. Although nowadays it gets almost no skin time anymore, there are so many that clamour for attention in my perfume closet. 😉 What a shame! I like its tenacity although it is such a light fragrance. I really enjoyed that review and the look into the past it has brought me. 🙂 February 14, 2011 at 7:11am Reply

  • Olfacta: This was my first gotta-have-it in the modern era. It reignited my interest in perfume. An embarrassing number of bottles and God-knows-how-many-decants-and-samples later, I still wear it on our humid summer nights sometimes, and still love it as much as ever. February 14, 2011 at 8:15am Reply

  • Musette: This was my first ‘tea’ scent, long before I knew anything about perfumers. I loved it for the very ‘aura’ reasons you described – and still do. I didn’t know Ellena was the perfumer but it makes perfect sense! I haven’t worn it in ages – must revisit!

    A gorgeous photo, btw. Simply spectacular!

    xxoxoxo February 14, 2011 at 8:55am Reply

  • ScentScelf: Au The Vert is an indispensable in my wardrobe. I don’t talk about it much, but I realize that I rely on it for its ease without compromise, for it being refreshing and yet interesting over time, and for the fact that it is one of those few “safe” scents if I am feeling delicate about potentially triggering a headache. It works in so many situations.

    I agree with Musette, btw. Fabulous photo. I imagine it was even more breathtaking to be there. February 14, 2011 at 9:31am Reply

  • Victoria: I smelled it the other day on a man at the grocery store, and it reminded me how beautiful The Vert’s sillage can be (hence, my little sillage explanation too.) Very airy, luminous, yet with substance. February 14, 2011 at 10:16am Reply

  • Victoria: Whenever I smell tea fragrances, I cannot but compare them to this classic. It is inimitable in a way, which is why it seems so original and novel to me even now, almost 20 years later. February 14, 2011 at 10:17am Reply

  • Victoria: It was my first tea scent also. I never really go into CKone, even though I appreciate it and admire it for its luminous, brilliant aura.
    Munnar is spectacular. These vistas are everywhere, for as far as the eye can see. The smell of the tea processing factory really reminded me of The Vert! February 14, 2011 at 10:18am Reply

  • Victoria: You’ve summed it up perfectly–it is a fragrance that is safe, yet not at all bland. I also wear it in similar circumstances, or whenever I just want to relax. It has a very soothing, calming effect on me.

    I am so glad that you and Anita liked the photo. I had such a wonderful time in Munnar, which is the place I still go in my mind whenever I want to feel relaxed. I loved its foggy ravines, steep hills covered with green tea bushes, the sounds of church bells and temple chants…. February 14, 2011 at 10:23am Reply

  • Tarleisio: Oh, I do love Thé Verte. It was love at first sniff, love years later and even today, when I gravitate more toward Thé Verte Extreme, just because it lasts longer, I love it still. It’s one of those late spring/summer scents I never hope to live without! February 14, 2011 at 11:24am Reply

  • Rowanhill: It is a wonderful fragrance. I love the cardamom which warms and rounds the freshness. In the end however I did not wear it much but used it as a room and linen spray and loved my home even more for the scent. I probably need to go and get another bottle. February 14, 2011 at 11:28am Reply

  • sweetlife: Somehow this one has escaped me. I have a vague memory of spraying it on paper in the store and passing it by. Ah well, always good to have another treat in store!

    (And thanks for your comment on PST. As I replied, you probably made a whole generation of U.S. perfumistas feel better.) February 14, 2011 at 11:55am Reply

  • Victoria: I keep a bottle of my desk all the time. It is a fragrance I even just love to smell to remind myself how original and innovative modern fragrances can be. Its simplicity belies its complex aura. February 14, 2011 at 12:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: I also love the cardamom (also here, Ellena uses nutmeg and pepper for a quite an intricate spicy accord). It is such a beautiful counterpoint to the hazy tea accord. February 14, 2011 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: A, my pleasure! Sunflowers gets such a bad rep, but it is such a trendsetter and a very interesting fragrance. I am going to review it soon.

    You will definitely have a treat in store for you with The Vert! February 14, 2011 at 12:34pm Reply

  • sweetlife: You’re going to review Sunflowers?! Not THAT will be a treat! I do so love that you are going back to these popular successes that are often reviled by our little community (White Diamonds!).

    P.S. I adore the Different Company’s Osmanthus. It is one of my happiest perfumes. February 14, 2011 at 4:22pm Reply

  • Victoria: You know, it is interesting for me also to take a step back and to look at these fragrances from a different perspective. Sometimes, some of them have plenty of surprises. Sunflowers might also be victims of their own success, just became too ubiquitous at one point.

    Osmanthus is the smell of sunshine for me. Such a beautiful, memorable perfume. February 14, 2011 at 4:41pm Reply

  • March: You are bringing me the smiles regularly, V. How I love The Vert — even more because I think in some circles, folks turn their nose up at it. It’s a scent I find myself coming back to, one of the bottles I actually wear.

    I wonder how you feel about Blanc and Rouge? February 14, 2011 at 5:12pm Reply

  • Victoria: March, it is really my pleasure! 🙂 The Vert is really a masterpiece in its family and a true trendsetter. Many perfumers today start out by studying its formula, which testifies to its importance. As someone who had to duplicate this fragrance during the course of my own studies, I can tell you, it is a simple, but very intricate composition. It made me appreciate the genius of Jean-Claude Ellena in a completely new way.

    I like The Rouge, which has such a nice sweet, ripe fig note, but The Blanc smells like wet paper to me. Not a bad fragrance, but just somewhat bland. February 14, 2011 at 6:08pm Reply

  • carmencanada: L’Eau Parfumée au Thé is part of what I consider the great turning point of 1992, along with Angel, Féminité du Bois and L’Eau d’Issey: not only a new take on the freshness of the cologne but the onset of a more figurative trend, a paring-down of compositional style, and the idea of fragrance as olfactory sketchbook of a place. Not to mention that as you say, it spawned quite a large family, always a sign of a classic…
    Funnily, when I was teaching in London I decided to ask my students if they smelled any tea when they smelled a blotter with hedione and another with beta ionone together. The only one who said she did was the Japanese student. She said it was a smell one only found in very high quality teas. February 14, 2011 at 6:46pm Reply

  • Victoria: How interesting! I smelled the same hazy, violet scent at the tea processing factory in Munnar, although it was only at some distance. Once you enter the factory, the woody-herbal scent of fermenting and drying teas becomes quite overwhelming. February 14, 2011 at 7:34pm Reply

  • hongkongmom: I am so gla you are writing again V…Your articles are always informative and beautifully written. When I first started on this serious journey…I used to read through ur reviews like the Perfume Guide and have youknow..you are responsible for a great many buys in my cabinet…i went through two bottles of this, and I am not crazy for JCE…but, your review has made me want to retry, after all these years!
    I loved the article on sillage. Sillage is something really NB to me, as one is able to get pleasure, whilst not having to be conscious of the perfume! IE:focused on other stuff!!! February 14, 2011 at 9:00pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words! It is really such a pleasure to share, because it is definitely a two way street–as you and others share your thoughts, you inspire me too. Thank you for this.
    Yes, for me, sillage, an aura is something very important too. Some perfumes are such perfect, comfortable fits, I may not be conscious of them, yet they make me feel great. The Vert certainly falls into that category. February 14, 2011 at 10:18pm Reply

  • ScentScelf: And again enters the idea of distance, this time through a tea door…

    Thinking of the plant-centered posts from Elise, which have explored the idea there, and the idea of wearing close to skin versus no so much. Which is something I need to go back and ask/comment about in your sillage post. 🙂 February 15, 2011 at 9:20am Reply

  • Victoria: I am thrilled that you have pointed it out, because it is something that stayed in my mind too. Which is the reason why I wanted to do a write up on sillage as well. February 15, 2011 at 10:04am Reply

  • Rowanhill: That explains, I love nutmeg as well. Thank you for pointing that out Victoria. February 15, 2011 at 11:23am Reply

  • Victoria: You are most welcome! I also love nutmeg and these kind of sweet, spicy notes. Ellena uses them really well. Getting this delicate spicy effect just as I least expect it is always very exciting to me. February 15, 2011 at 11:30am Reply

  • marylizette@hotmail.com: I am so happy that you are back. I missed your musings. Although, you really do tempt me into buying so many things!! You are a beautiful writer. February 15, 2011 at 3:59pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I love Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert. I owned it before I became perfume obsessed. I still wear it, especially on days that I am not feeling too well. It’s not a demanding perfume while it isn’t at all dull.

    On another note: What is the name of the tea they ” make” in Munnar? The photo is so beautiful, and as a tea-lover I am always interested in discovering new teas. February 15, 2011 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mary Lizette, thank you for your nice words! I missed writing, and I am glad to be back and to find the right balance for it all. 🙂 February 15, 2011 at 6:24pm Reply

  • Victoria: >>It’s not a demanding perfume while it isn’t at all dull.

    A perfect way to describe The Vert!

    In Munnar (that is in the southern Indian state of Kerala), they grow mostly Assam-type tea, but I suspect that most of it is not very high grade. The tea for local consumption is generally low grade large leaves and twigs, because in India, tea is drunk by being mixed with sugar, spices and milk. The nuances of fine teas simply would get lost. Although I drank plenty of tea during my visit (masala chai with spices and milk,) I did not buy any to take home. I wish I did, if only to have a memory of the visit. February 15, 2011 at 6:35pm Reply

  • KathyT: Au The Vert is my wallpaper scent that I turn to when I want to smell good, but I don’t want to project too much. I’ve yet to find anyone who objects to it. I also love it in the summer because it has a cooling feel to me in spite of the spices. I also have the Rouge and the Blanc, but the Vert is my favorite of the three. It’s funny that I don’t even notice the floral notes at all! February 17, 2011 at 9:03am Reply

  • Victoria: Kathy, I also love it in the summer. I find that the spices here are very cooling and lemony, rather than warming and hot. What I love about Jean-Claude Ellena's compositions and the use of florals is that his floral notes are always rendered in a rather androgynous manner. Not at all how one would expect them to come across! That is always very interesting to me. February 17, 2011 at 10:50am Reply

  • Gabrielle: Yes yes yes!! I hjave worn this for about 10+ years, and now it is hard to find in NZ I am hoping as you say it is a classic and It is still being made? Some here have told me that it is not being made any more. I have the same experiences and feelings as evryone else about The Vert, as well as the fact people always comment positively when I wear it. April 9, 2013 at 5:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Gabrielle, it’s still being made! No worries, there are no plans to discontinue it. Maybe, it’s just limited in its distribution in NZ? April 9, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

  • Irish: Hi Victoria, I’m dying to find this perfume since this is my longtime favorite however this is nowhere to find in Asia. Where did you get yours? What countries/particular bvlgari branch or store are still carrying it? thank you. February 5, 2015 at 3:02am Reply

    • Victoria: In Europe, it’s sold at most perfume stores, so it’s not hard to find. Why not try Ebay? February 9, 2015 at 7:44am Reply

  • Oona: Have you tried Au The Blanc? December 28, 2015 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s a light cologne with a woody-peppery note. Pleasant but not as interesting as The Vert. December 28, 2015 at 1:31pm Reply

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