tea perfumes: 3 posts

L’Artisan Parfumeur Histoire d’Orangers : Perfume Review

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This review of Histoire d’Orangers, a fragrance created by perfumer Marie Salamagne for L’Artisan Parfumeur, continues both the Women in Perfumery and The Scents of Tea series.

Annick Goutal’s Néroli was one of my favorite orange blossom perfumes. I loved its graceful, lighter than sea-foam character paired with its robust lasting power, and it made me content. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a limited edition and the Cologne version that replaced it was pretty but flimsy. Until I discovered L’Artisan’s Histoire d’Orangers this summer, I’ve been rationing my last few drops of Néroli.

On the face of it, I shouldn’t have had trouble finding a replacement for a simple orange blossom cologne. They’re a dime a dozen. You can have a bottle for a couple of euros (Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange) or for a couple of hundred (Tom Ford Néroli Portofino). But as my perfumery teacher Sophia Grojsman says, nothing is more difficult than a simple thing. Many orange blossom colognes smelled either too pale (Jo Malone Orange Blossom), too dry (Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte), too flashy (the aforementioned Tom Ford), or just not right (Houbigant Oranger en Fleurs). The beauty of Annick Goutal’s Néroli was that it captured all the facets of the real thing, like the honeyed softness, indolic tang, and green sharpness, but made them refined and velvety. Every time I picked up the bottle and pressed the nozzle, I imagined a shower of white petals brushing my skin.

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Reading Tea Leaves: Best Tea Perfumes in 10 Different Styles

The scent of tea leaves is created by hundreds of aroma-molecules, and each variety has its unique fragrance. Terroir plays a role as does the method of curing the tea leaves. For instance, steamed Japanese teas like sencha and matcha have grassy, spinach-like aromas thanks to hexenal, while mildly oxidized oolongs share aromatics with lilac blossoms, roses and jasmine (nerolidol, cis-jasmone, linalool). The smoky profiles of teas like lapsang souchong are created by molecules like pyrazines, longifolene and guaiacol. In an interesting twist, guaiacol, along with certain types of pyrazines, is what gives roasted coffee its distinctive scent, which is why smoky teas are recommended to coffee drinkers wanting to expand their horizons. With such a rich palette of aromas, the tea accord is a fascinating exercise for a perfumer.

In my recent article on the development of Bulgari’s Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, I described how Jean-Claude Ellena discovered a novel accord and created a modern classic. Since Bulgari launched the perfume in 1992, it became the green tea of fragrance. However, tea accords aren’t limited to delicate green blends, and when I began researching my article, I realized how many fragrances successfully incorporate a tea effect, both light and dark. I decided to make a list of the most interesting examples, in 10 different styles.

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Modern Classics : Tea Colognes and Bulgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert

Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert is an unexpected modern classic. It wasn’t even meant to be displayed outside the Bulgari  boutiques, where its role was to be an elegant extra next to the house’s jewelry collection. Yet such was its allure and originality that it became one of the perfume trendsetters. And it made Bulgari into a perfume house of note. I tell the story of Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert in my newest FT column, Tempting Tea-Inspired Perfumes. But first I take you on my honeymoon to Kerala.

Munnar, a hill station in India’s southwestern state of Kerala, is one of the country’s largest tea producers. Ensconced in the Western Ghats mountain range, the town is surrounded by plantations that cascade down the hills and hide in misty ravines. I was in Munnar for my honeymoon, and my recollections of long, languorous walks around the tea gardens, the tolling church bells and the opulence of garlands at the Sri Subramanya Temple are laced with the scent of tea leaves. Crushed in my fingers, they smelled green and tannic; when carried by the morning breeze, the aroma resembled violets and driftwood. To continue, please click here.

The other fragrances in the Modern Classic series were Serge Lutens’s Féminité du Bois and Lolita Lempicka.

Researching the article made me realize how many excellent and distinctive perfumes feature the tea accord. Next week I will share a selection of favorites to complement my choices in the article above.

Image via FT

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