Guerlain Shalimar Tea

One of my  favorite Christmas gifts last year turned out to be Guerlain teas. My friend thoughtfully selected Shalimar and Habit Rouge blends, aware of my fondness for these perfumes. The intense aroma of vanilla and bergamot greeted me as soon as I opened the black tin container of Shalimar. Habit Rouge, on the other hand, was not deliberately scented; the natural aroma of Yunnan tea was meant to capture the leather and citrus nuances of the perfume.

guerlain-shalimar-tea

The collection of fragrant teas was created for the perfume house by Constance Braud, the founder of Thés de Constance, and I’ve shared the descriptions in my Guerlain Flavored Tea Collection article. The line is currently exclusive to the Guerlain flagship store on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, where it can also be enjoyed at the new restaurant.

In the brochure that accompanied my teas, Shalimar was described as “a subtle blend of green and black teas from China and Sri Lanka, flavored with vanilla, bergamot, cinnamon, lavender, and natural aromas of cardamom. This tea recalls the rich and compelling character of the very first Oriental perfume.” Sifting the tea leaves through my fingers, I also notice bits of vanilla bean and jasmine flowers. Inhale deeply, and the notes of bergamot and vanilla seem most obvious. Take another whiff, and you realize that there is also a generous dose of lavender. It smells addictive, but more like Jicky, the thyme and lavender accented precursor to Shalimar.

guerlain tea2

If you like Earl Grey tea varieties, Shalimar will be a winner. After 3 minutes, the leaves tint the water a deep ambery gold hue. The flavor is rich, but it’s not overwhelming, and despite a lavish dose of vanilla, the tea is not cloying. The jasmine is more noticeable than in the dry mixture, and the tea has a suave, malty character. The second  steep is softer and smoother, but it doesn’t have the exhilarating burst of bergamot.

As I enjoyed my tea time with Shalimar, I wondered how the same experience could be recreated if one doesn’t have access to Guerlain’s boutique. I took out my canister of Earl Grey tea and set out to experiment. It was fascinating how adding vanilla little by little transforms a familiar bergamot tea into an altogether different flavor experience.

tea1

The best way to arrive at Shalimar is to mix Earl Grey tea with jasmine tea and add some vanilla. My preferred combination is 1/4 cup jasmine green tea, 3/4 cups Earl Grey black tea, 1/2 of a minced vanilla bean, and a pinch of grated tonka bean. The toasted almond and sweet hay note of tonka adds a seductive touch, but feel free to skip it. I did follow Guerlain’s lead with lavender and added 2 Tablespoons of dried flowers to balance out the sweetness of vanilla. Since each tea has its own flavor, you might have to adjust the quantities to your liking.

Mix and allow the flavors to marry for at least one week. Store in an air-tight container. Use 2g of tea per each cup of hot water and brew for 3 minutes at 195°F/90C. A dab of Shalimar perfume behind the ear is optional.

The tea collection is available at the Guerlain flagship store, 68 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008 Paris.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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79 Comments

  • Andy: I’m so glad you’ve shared a recipe, because all this time I’ve been silently mourning the fact that I wouldn’t have a chance to try the Shalimar tea. I wonder how adding a small amount of dried patchouli leaves would enhance the flavor of the tea as well, though I imagine that literal touch of Shalimar is hardly necessary. January 23, 2014 at 7:15am Reply

    • Victoria: That sounds like an interesting touch, Andy. I have a spice mixture that includes patchouli leaves, and it’s delicious with anything earthy like mushrooms or buckwheat.

      If you experiment, please let me know what you come up with. I’m sure that your blend will be much better than mine. January 23, 2014 at 11:15am Reply

      • Andy: I blended this tea together as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, I don’t have any patchouli leaves right now, but next time I get them I will have to try it. Anyway, I brewed a cup right away (so much for letting the flavors mingle…), and I loved it.

        You needn’t be so modest–I think this tea is fantastic as it is! Right now, I’m finding the lavender-tonka combination especially brilliant. I grated about half a tonka bean in, and it’s truly amazing how it managed to scent the entire batch. January 23, 2014 at 8:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: I find the flavor of tonka bean addictive, and it’s especially good with dark blends. The lavender and tonka combination works really well, because both contain the same almond-hay like note, and the result is really complex. Glad that you liked it! January 24, 2014 at 7:42am Reply

          • Andy: Yes, with the lavender and tonka together (and perhaps in part some of the other ingredients as well?) there’s a definite coumarin-iness, though I have no idea if that’s the compound I’m tasting specifically. January 24, 2014 at 8:35pm Reply

            • Victoria: You’re absolutely right, it’s the coumarin. There is also some coumarin in figs, and if you add a bit of tonka bean to a fig compote, the almond flavor becomes really obvious. January 25, 2014 at 3:09am Reply

  • Solanace: I agree with Andy, it was really thoughtful from you to include a recipe, so we can all enjoy the ultimate decadence of a Shalimar scented tea. 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 7:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Shalimar is surprisingly easy to evoke with just bergamot and vanilla. The tea provides enough of the dark, rich backdrop. Of course, other subtle touches will make further difference, but it’s fun to experiment. January 23, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

  • Jillie: Like Andy and Solanace, I am really pleased that you made up this recipe. I think I might just leave out the lavender – for some reason, I have never been able to drink tea with lavender as it seems to remind me too much of a bath product, although strangely I don’t have that problem when it is in food. I am so excited to try your Shalimar tea! January 23, 2014 at 8:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Lavender is not essential, although I discovered that I like it paired with vanilla. Otherwise, I’m also not a big fan of lavender in food or drink. Too much, and it tastes like soap to me. January 23, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

  • Rachel: I must try making my own Shalimar. Thank you, V! January 23, 2014 at 8:07am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 11:18am Reply

  • rosarita: I’m not really a tea person but I’m definitely a Shalimar person. Thanks for the recipe! January 23, 2014 at 8:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t realize that it would be possible to make something remotely Shalimar like until I started playing around. Originally, I didn’t like Shalimar perfume that much, but over the years it grew on me until I started craving it. Now, I’m definitely a Shalimar person too. 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 11:31am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Oh, this is fantastic! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Earl Grey and Lady Grey are among my favourites, especially in the afternoon. When I brew them, the whole room is filled with the exhilarating and refreshing aroma and I love that. Have you already tried adding cardamom or cinnamon? And is it possible to buy culinary lavender? I can’t wait to experiment it myself. 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you can try it! I haven’t added cardamom or cinnamon to this particular blend, but I imagine that a discreet touch would be great. Cardamom especially is a great match for tea, as Jean-Claude Ellena’s perfumes reveal.

      Culinary lavender is usually sold at the pharmacies or gourmet stores. If you have any herbal shops around, look for it there. Since lavender is commonly used in tisanes and desserts, you should be able to find it fairly easily. January 23, 2014 at 11:33am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I’ll let you know of the outcome. I can’t think of cardamom without thinking about JCE because he seems to be using it in many of his creations. Talking about cardamom makes me miss the amazing cardamom and saffron ice cream topped with pistachios. Yum! January 23, 2014 at 4:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: The combination you describe is so perfect that it’s hard to best it. Can imagine why you’re craving it, and now I want some too. January 23, 2014 at 6:27pm Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: I just made a small batch. Besides the ingredients in your recipe, I also added some ground cardamom and a cinammon stick which I’ll take out after a week. I know that I should wait for a week but I just couldn’t wait to test it. Hmm… It certainly reminds me of Shalimar drydown but I’m afraid that I have added too much cardamom. It’s not that bad but it’s overpowering other flavours. I’ll try it after a week and next time I try making a batch, I think like cinammon, I’ll add the whole seeds, let the tea leaves absorb the flavour and then take them out. It was really fun to experiment so thanks for the inspiration, V. 🙂 January 26, 2014 at 2:02pm Reply

            • Victoria: It really sounds so good! I adore cardamom, so I would be happy with your version. 🙂 You can also just use lightly crushed green cardamom pods and start with a couple first and then add more to your mixture, if the flavor is not strong enough. January 27, 2014 at 4:54am Reply

  • maja: The first picture is gorgeous! Brings relaxation… What are those wonderful pink treats? 🙂

    Thank you for experimenting and coming up with a homemade version of Shalimar tea. This could become one of those escapist smelling moments 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Those are rose scented meringues from Laduree, which came with my teas (my thoughtful friend included them). They’re almost too pretty to eat. 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 11:35am Reply

  • Allison: Thank you for your great recipe! Where can you find tonka bean? January 23, 2014 at 10:15am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome!
      In the US, I ordered it from Mountain Rose Herbs, but amazon.com also carries it. In Europe, it’s sold at various gourmet stores in the spice section. It’s super potent, so a tiny bit goes a long way. January 23, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

  • Sandra Levine: I recently made a bergamot marmalade using the fruit, jasmine tea (in lieu of dried blossoms) vanilla and a scrap of tonka bean. It tastes and smells delicious, albeit not exactly like Shalimar! January 23, 2014 at 10:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Just reading this description makes me imagine the scent. It sounds heavenly! January 23, 2014 at 11:40am Reply

    • kammo: YUM! January 23, 2014 at 1:01pm Reply

    • RenChick: Sounds wonderful! And I missed bergamot season in the US this year… 🙁 January 28, 2014 at 9:45am Reply

  • Aisha: I was, at first, going to say, “It’s not nice to tease people when Paris isn’t a hop, skip and a jump away.” But you’ve redeemed yourself by sharing a recipe. 😉

    It had never occurred to me, until now, that I could try combining different tea varieties. I like adding rose water to Darjeeling, but I would never have thought of combining Earl Grey with a jasmine tea! Wow!

    Thank you! January 23, 2014 at 10:23am Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t do that, not when there is a way to replicate an experience in another way. Not to say that my blend is identical to Guerlain’s, but it’s enjoyable. It was also fun to play with flavors and come up this blend.

      Orange blossom water in black tea is another great way to add a different twist. January 23, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

  • Natalie: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Ever since you posted about Shalimar tea, I’ve been dreaming about it but of course no way to get it here. I’ll try making it now. January 23, 2014 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that you like it, Natalie! January 23, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

  • Hannah: I had a very, very hard week so I could really use this tea (minus the vanilla).
    Earl grey + jasmine tea would sound strange to me, but I trust your judgement so I will try it sometime.
    Since I don’t have jasmine tea, I added some strands of saffron to my earl grey. I didn’t give them time to marry, though. And I usually hate sugar in tea but today I need it. January 23, 2014 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Bergamot and jasmine are a classical pairing in perfumery, so I thought that there is no reason why it shouldn’t work in tea. Certainly, it tasted great in Guerlain’s Shalimar tea.

      Saffron is great with tea. I have a recipe for Kashmiri tea that uses oolong, saffron and pistachios. I also discovered that you get more flavor out of saffron if you heat the strands in a hot pan. They shouldn’t burn or change color, though. January 23, 2014 at 11:55am Reply

      • Hannah: How are the pistachios used?
        A few days ago I decided to make a treat for the girl I’m watching, so I made a lassi with rosewater, a few saffron stands, and pistachios and then the dad called to tell me that she was spending the night with a friend. And then her mom called and yelled at me for letting her stay the night with a friend on a school night. But I got to drink two glasses of it and it was really good! January 23, 2014 at 12:11pm Reply

        • Victoria: That must have been frustrating (and seems unfair), but at least, you had some delicious lassi to console yourself with. In Kashmiri tea, pistachios are slivered and sprinkled over the tea. I don’t know how authentic of a recipe it is, but it tastes very good. January 23, 2014 at 3:34pm Reply

          • Hannah: I went to a Nepalese restaurant and I ordered Sherpa Tee (tea) and then I googled sherpa tea and it is nothing like what I ordered! It was a masala chai (and a really good one. I’m usually disappointed in Germany), which Nepalese people drink but Sherpa people don’t. They drink a salted tea. You likely know this already. I really want to try the salted tea but I think I will need a really, really strong tea.

            Oh, I’ve been wondering something about masala chai and you’ve been to India so you’d know.
            I think the difference between what I get at Indian restaurants in the US and at Indian restaurants in Germany is that in the US, they use condensed milk and in Germany they use honey (the Nepalese restaurant and a restaurant that allegedly is the best Indian restaurant in Hamburg use condensed milk). I told my friend that honey just doesn’t cut it and he said that I’m eating Americanized Indian food so I don’t even know what I’m talking about. In India are they more likely to use condensed milk? Does it vary by region? January 24, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

            • Victoria: Fresh, condensed or evaporated milk are used, depending on one’s access to refrigeration. Fresh milk spoils very quickly in the warm climate. But at my relative’s house they use fresh (boiled) milk, black tea and lots of sugar to make chai (no spices). I’ll ask around about honey. January 24, 2014 at 10:55am Reply

  • kammo: I didn’t know Guerlain had teas. How do you like Habit Rouge? January 23, 2014 at 1:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Habit Rouge doesn’t have added flavors, but the tea itself is very good. It’s rich and a bit astringent, but the finish is clean and crisp. I don’t know if I would have guessed that it had anything to do with perfume, but I liked it. January 23, 2014 at 3:36pm Reply

  • Marc: I read this post this morning. When making my tea later I added a little bit of vanilla extract to regular black tea and a slice of lemon. My wife and daughter loved it and we will try your blend next. January 23, 2014 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Black tea, lemon and vanilla is a perfect pairing. Having started playing with vanilla, I realized how it can round out the flavor even of the most basic tea. A dash of vanilla in a cup of Lipton really works magic! January 23, 2014 at 3:38pm Reply

  • Annikky: What a great deconstruction/reconstruction! I will certainly give it a try, my tonka beans would love some action after weeks of neglect. But I plan to acquire the original version as well, next time I’m in Paris. Can’t resist a pretty, nice-smelling tin. January 23, 2014 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Annikky!
      It’s hard to resist a well-made package, and they’re also useful and reusable. My Mariage Freres tea was finished several years ago, but the tin is now used for other teas, and it even made two transatlantic trips. 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 3:40pm Reply

  • sara: lovely! what are those pink cookies in your first photo? January 23, 2014 at 2:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’re rose meringues! Delicate, sweet, pretty and very good with a cup of perfumed tea. January 23, 2014 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Trust you to analyse a Guerlain tea and come up with your own recipe. It sounds good. As I suspected from your last Guerlain tea post the Habit Rouge is a non-flavoured tea.
    Apart from the fragrant ingredients, were you able to make out what kind of black tea was used for Shalimar?

    As I’ve got both Earl Grey and Jasmine and a Vanilla heavy tea, I think I’ll try mixing those three. While wearing some Shalimar of course! January 23, 2014 at 4:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not an expert like you or Andy, but it seems like orange pekoe. It gave me an idea to experiment using Pettiagala OP as a base, which probably gilding the lily, since Pettiagala is marvelous on its own. But the flavor with Pettiagala and the rest of the components I mentioned (+ a couple of drops of bergamot essences) was especially memorable. January 23, 2014 at 6:20pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Expert or not, I’ve just realised I cannot read. Right at the beginning of the description it reveals that the tea used is a blend of China and Sri Lanka tea. I must have drunk Petiagalla at some point. I quite like Ceylon teas, as they are not so demanding as some Chinese or Indian teas. January 24, 2014 at 4:36am Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t tried that many OP teas, but Petiagalla somehow hit the spot. It’s great for both morning and afternoon, with milk or without. My mom buys a couple of kilos at a time when she visits Le Palais des Thes, because at home they drink it almost exclusively. January 24, 2014 at 7:49am Reply

          • Austenfan: I currently have 2 Ceylon/Sri Lanka teas in my collection:Silver Candy which is rather delicate and Dimbullah which is more robust.
            Both are great with or without milk as well.
            Your mum knows her stuff, you must take after her! January 24, 2014 at 1:26pm Reply

            • Victoria: It’s mostly my stepfather who has this steadfast attachment to Pettiagalla, but we all love it too.

              I just received a seasonal magazine from Le Palais des Thes, and there are all sorts of interesting pu erh teas. More temptation! January 24, 2014 at 2:29pm Reply

        • Andy: Yes, I agree. There’s a nice OP Ceylon at the shop I work at (I’m lucky enough to be currently working at a tea shop!), and it’s nice for when I want a black tea to drink but nothing too cerebral, if that makes any sense. January 24, 2014 at 8:32pm Reply

          • Austenfan: That makes perfect sense! And lucky you, I would love to work in a teashop. January 25, 2014 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Alessandra: Right, this was already on my list of htings to do in Paris and is now become no. 1 thing! Hahahah.

    Fantastic. Are these teas pricey? I would really love to bring a tin back home..

    I do love earl grey, so Shalimar is GO. January 23, 2014 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not sure what they cost. I feel awkward asking my friend what she paid for them and the work has keeping me too busy to call Guerlain boutique myself. Perhaps, someone else knows and can update us. January 23, 2014 at 6:22pm Reply

      • Alessandra: Sure… yeah, I didn’t expect you to ask your friend, I have the same problem asking people under those circumstances, I understand.. no worries 🙂 January 24, 2014 at 2:41am Reply

    • Annikky: If I’m not mistaken, they cost 35 euros. January 23, 2014 at 6:27pm Reply

      • Alessandra: Wow!!! Worth every penny, though, I am sure January 24, 2014 at 2:38am Reply

  • Ann: I am a vanilla junkie and put drops of the pure extract in countless recipes—tea, fruit salad, French toast, yogurt, cocktails, and even in vanilla ice cream. Your Shalimar tea recipe is similar to one of my “cheating” desserts (something super easy that impresses the local foodies). I take a very good quality vanilla ice cream and add more vanilla :), quite a generous dose of orange marmalade, and lavender flowers, and mix then together. I serve the ice cream slightly melted with a mint leaf on the side. Your review makes me wonder what would happen if I added some crushed Earl Grey… January 23, 2014 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Ann, your ice cream sounds heavenly. I’d like to have some now. January 23, 2014 at 4:45pm Reply

      • Ann: Me too! Am consoling myself with another of Victoria’s fabulous revelations–cafe blanc. January 23, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your ice cream sounds like something that would smell wonderful too. One of the reason I always keep a stock of vanilla beans and vanilla extract is that you can fix almost any dessert with this sweet note. Same goes for perfume! Sometimes vanilla is used like a pinch of sugar in a savory sauce.

      In India, an equivalent would be cardamom. I remember reading in several different old cookbooks that if a dish doesn’t taste right, just add some cardamom. I haven’t tried it myself, but as a big cardamom fan, I’m willing to stage a culinary flop just to test this advice. 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 6:26pm Reply

  • Alessandra: *has* now become. HAS. Apologies for the typo! January 23, 2014 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: No worries, Alessandra! 🙂 January 23, 2014 at 6:26pm Reply

  • AromaX: Thank you very much for sharing the experience and the recipe. Putting vanilla pod into the box of Lady Earl Grey was my first thought when I started to read your post. Adding jasmine tea and may be lavender was the second thought. But at the end I was very glad to find the ready to use recipe. Very inspiring for the further experiments 😉 January 23, 2014 at 5:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lady Grey might be even better, because too dark or too bergamot heavy of a blend overpowers the other flavors. By the way, tonka bean doesn’t seem to part of Guerlain’s tea recipe. But since Shalimar perfume contains so much of it, it seemed like a natural addition. Anyway, the tea tastes great with or without it. January 23, 2014 at 6:30pm Reply

  • donna: Victoria, you have turned me into a tea lover. My grandmother always drank a lovely tea she bought when she travelled to Canada every year but that was all I learned of tea until your blog. Question: Have you ever tried Harney and Son’s Paris tea? It’s perfumey but I tire of it quickly. Adore Earl Grey and since I won’t be trying Guerlain’s (tant pis), I will try your recipe this weekend. I always enjoy when you give us a recipe. January 23, 2014 at 6:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad, Donna! The credit must go to Andy, who contributed the whole Tea Primer, and from whom we’ll hear more on teas and tea perfumes in the coming weeks.

      I haven’t tried Paris, but other Harney and Son’s teas I drank were very good. The quality of the tea is excellent, and the flavors are well-balanced and not at all artificial. January 23, 2014 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Martha: Thank you for sharing this recipe. I don’t know Shalimar, but I do love vanilla, and tea. I am going to have fun putting together these ingredients. January 23, 2014 at 7:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: A bit of vanilla can make such a huge difference, in teas as in perfumes. 🙂 January 24, 2014 at 7:36am Reply

  • k: Thank you for sharing your tea recipe! I will try it by all means. BTW, I had a few Ispahan from Laduree at the last Chrismas 🙂 Yummy.

    Enjoy your tea! January 23, 2014 at 9:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, Ispahan is my favorite Laduree pastry. The combo of raspberries and rose is just pure ambrosia. 🙂 January 24, 2014 at 7:42am Reply

  • Karen: I want to thank you for bringing more beauty in to my life! January 24, 2014 at 6:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Gosh, thank you for your nice words, Karen! 🙂 January 24, 2014 at 7:49am Reply

  • OperaFan: What a lovely idea (and recipe)! I may not have all the ingredients, but can certainly use your recipe as a starting point to blending one of my own. Thanks so much! January 24, 2014 at 2:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Blending your own flavored tea is not that difficult, especially since tea absorbs flavors readily. Plus, this way you can ensure you use the best ingredients and skip any artificial flavors. January 24, 2014 at 2:59pm Reply

  • Lizzy: What a beautiful combination! I will definitely be trying the recipe, as I have almost everything on hand but the tonka, which I can easily get from MRH. All the talk about chai makes me want to play around with making up the tea, mixing it with steamed almond milk and honey, and adding a dusting of cinnamon and cardamom powder to the top. Shalimar tea latte?

    That cardamom-saffron ice cream with crushed pistachios on top mentioned upthread sounds like heaven, too. January 26, 2014 at 9:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m going to try your honey and almond milk idea. Thank you. Shalimar latte is what it would be! 🙂 January 27, 2014 at 4:58am Reply

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