Hermes Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan : Perfume Review



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

Inspired by a visit to the gardens of Beijing’s Forbidden City, Hermès Osmanthe Yunnan, Jean-Claude Ellena’s creation for Hermessence range explores the marriage of tea and flower. Yunnan tea and osmanthus is a combination of natural harmony due to the fact that the flowery rich tea tonality underscores the fruity delicacy of osmanthus. Its scent, elusive and haunting, ranges from tea-soaked dried apricots to jasmine soap crushed in a leather bag.

The hesperidic notes sparkle like sugar crystals falling into a tea cup, their astringent quality appearing as somewhat sharp on the skin. The tart orange becomes more pronounced, contrasting with the gentle richness of tea. As could be expected, the composition is quintessentially Ellena—delicate transparency paired with complexity of the final result, which is a panoramic display of the idea. The composition appears rather smooth, with none of the notes dominating, but instead melding elegantly into a transparent, yet velvety fruity-floral scent. …

It does not undergo dramatic developments, yet it nevertheless does not remains static, with different facets making themselves apparent on the skin. Suddenly, a cup of tea with a few orange slices on the side is conjured by the interplay of notes, only to fade under a gentle breeze carrying the scent of white flowers.

Tea leaves and golden tips touched by delicate bitterness lend a warm silky backdrop against which the fruity-floral accord unfolds, like ink seeping into the canvas of Chinese silk paintings. The fruity facet of osmanthus is accented by the apricot, which does not appear luscious and juicy, but rather like a firm, slightly unripe fruit. The acidic quality adds a refreshing and transparent element to the composition, softening the characteristic gentle bitterness of Yunnan tea. The wonderful softness of the drydown caresses the skin like a touch of delicate suede.  It smells the way apricot skin feels.

Although Osmanthe Yunnan strikes me as another enchanting composition by Jean-Claude Ellena, given its rendition of transparent accords as multifaceted and vibrant, it is not as unusual as some other Hermèssence fragrances. Most certainly, it would be best suited for the spring/summer season, given its soft aura. Yet, this very quality makes it easy to wear, as Osmanthe Yunnan is more akin to donning a comfortable silk slip than trying on a satin gown. In comparison to another osmanthus fragrance created by Ellena, The Different Company Osmanthus, Osmanthe Yunnan strikes me as richer, slightly sweeter, with a warmer finish. This velvety warmth distinguishes Osmanthe Yunnan from Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus, which is sharper and muskier. I would recommend sampling Osmanthe Yunnan especially to those who love Jean-Claude Ellena’s work and appreciate light, transparent fragrances.  However, it might disappoint if one expects the voluptuous warmth of Ambre Narguilé or the smoky richness of Vétiver Tonka.

Notes of the eau de toilette include Yunnan tea, freesia, apricot, osmanthus, leather and musk. Hermessence range created by Ellena includes Poivre Samarcande, Rose Ikebana, Vétiver Tonka, and Ambre Narguilé. Available at select Hermès boutiques.

Please see other Hermès reviews:
Eau des Merveilles and Parfum des Merveilles
Hermèssence Ambre Narguilé
Hermèssence Poivre Samarcande
Un Jardin Sur Le Nil

To read another opinion, please see Robin’s review on Nowsmellthis.

Chinese sillk painting from



  • Test Subject: Beautiful review as always. I’m sure I will get to sniff this soon enough. In the meantime, I feel like my interest in learning Chinese brush painting has been rekindled, a most unexepected by-product of your review 🙂 November 21, 2005 at 7:26am Reply

  • kaie: I only smelt it on a ribbon. I thought that it was very soft and pleasant like a nice summer fragrance. I still don’t understand why Hermès released it now???? November 21, 2005 at 8:31am Reply

  • Robin: V, echoing the other comments above, would love to know why this was released in November. It seems a very odd choice, as I would think it would be much more likely to capture interest in the spring. November 21, 2005 at 9:34am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): Sounds lovely–but I agree with M, K, and R that the timing of this release is strange; perhaps they want to present a 5-bottle discovery set for Christmas. The SA in the Boston Hermes told me that they were expecting OY in December, and I certainly will stop by for a sample. But it’s just not what I’m craving now, although your review is beautiful. November 21, 2005 at 9:36am Reply

  • linda: You have me running all over the city to find things you are reviewing. 🙂 Now I have to test OY. Is Hermes located on Madison? November 21, 2005 at 10:01am Reply

  • Laura: Dear V, can’t wait to try this! How would you compare it, stylistically, to his Jardin sur le Nil? November 21, 2005 at 5:56am Reply

  • linda: Thank you. Perhaps I may go even today. It is a good thing the store is close by, otherwise I would be purchasing unsniffed based on that review alone! 🙂 November 21, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • mreenymo: V, I have not tested this yet, but I have a feeling that your review nailed it!

    I love VT and AN, but a sheer breeze of lusciousness for a change is fine, too!

    Hugs! November 21, 2005 at 1:43pm Reply

  • Marina: Marriage of tea and flower does sound like a union made in heaven…but…I think I should wait till warmer days to test OY. Right now all I crave is something warm and hearty like Ambre Narguile. To do a jastice to OY I think I may just wait … November 21, 2005 at 8:56am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, Jardin Sur Le Nil is much more citrusy and much fruitier in comparison. It is also sharper. Osmanthe Yunnan also has a lovely velvety quality in the drydown, while Jardin remains crisp and vibrant. I would want both. November 21, 2005 at 9:44am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, I never knew you had an interest in learning Chinese brush painting! This is a new discovery for me. 🙂 November 21, 2005 at 9:45am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kaie, yes, it is odd, isn’t it? However, Hermes is not the only one. Diptyque released Do Son, L’Artisan released Fleur d’Oranger. Even Carnal Flower strikes me as a summer fragrance. November 21, 2005 at 9:47am Reply

  • Laura: Thank you, dear V. I knew the notes were different, I was trying to work out in my mind how they’d compare in sort of abstract terms and you’ve helped me imagine this. November 21, 2005 at 9:51am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I love the way tea and osmanthus present a fine balance here, one underscoring the quality of another. However, if I were less of Ellena fan, I probably would have waited as well. November 21, 2005 at 9:55am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, this is so true. I have not paid much attention to the timing of releases in the past, but it strikes me that this year there has been an onslaught of light fragrances for the fall/winter season. Rather strange, if you ask me. Perhaps, this genre is just the most commercial. November 21, 2005 at 9:57am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I am wearing Opium parfum today, although I was happy with Osmanthe Yunnan last week. I find transparent, yet with enough depth to be interesting, and the drydown is lovely. As an example of JCE’s work, it is great. November 21, 2005 at 10:03am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, you are welcome. To make another comparison, if Jardin were a painting, it would be one of your vibrant watercolours on paper. Osmanthe Yunnan has a delicate quality of painting on silk, if it were done by you. Needless to say, I love both. November 21, 2005 at 10:12am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, yes, it is at 11 E 57th St between 5th and Madison Aves. Cannot wait to hear your thoughts! November 21, 2005 at 10:14am Reply

  • parislondres: Loved your review dear V. OY does have a velvety quality that makes it special.
    I also agree with Robin and you that this is not as brilliant (stylistically)as Ambre Narguile and Vetiver Tonka. However, it will be a delight to wear during idyllic summer days.
    I also loved your comparison to other Osmanthus fragrances.

    Hugs! November 21, 2005 at 11:07am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, thank you. Like you, I was surprised by the sharpness of the top notes and the fact that this citrusy dryness lasted even into the drydown. However, it was not as tart as the grapefruit-rhubarb combination of Rose Ikebana.

    I am having a cup of Yunnan tea this morning (from Le Palais des Thes, btw). 🙂 I also would like to visit the place where you got that special tea blend last year. Was it called Nina? I do not have a package anymore. November 21, 2005 at 11:15am Reply

  • Tania: I don’t think people who are non-fragrance fanatics actually think about matching scent to season. It just seems so obvious to me that the best time to release something like a Hermès fragrance (affordable item for a high-end brand known for scarves and handbags, and so skewed toward the ladies’ market) would be right before Christmas.

    I had hoped for more leathery osmanthus and a more smoky, astringent tea, but I will still smell this. It sounds awfully nice, although if I have Divine Bergamote and Yuzu Rouge, do I really need another sheer, crisp gauzy scent? November 21, 2005 at 12:29pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, please let me know what you think! I cannot wait for your thoughts. November 21, 2005 at 12:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, there is probably some truth to that. Christmas time is the biggest shopping period of the year.

    Osmanthus is rendered quite well here, a perfect blend of apricot and white flowers, with a touch of leather. I would not call this scent as crisp though, because tea provides a very nice warm finish. The drydown is soft and almost suede-like, which is not the case with either DB or YR. Still, unless you are really into JCE and this genre, I do not see why you might need all three. I must say that I prefer it to DB. For one thing, it is much longer lasting. November 21, 2005 at 12:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, it is indeed a sheer breeze of lusciousness! Osmanthus is most apparent on my skin in the heart and then it dries down a luxurious soft, yet delicate fragrance. Yes, silk slip analogy is the best one I can imagine. It clings beautifully to the skin. November 21, 2005 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Tania: Hmm, you make the drydown sound so cozy. I’ll smell it at any rate. I’m a sucker for tea. November 21, 2005 at 3:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: It is very cozy, and it does smell like real osmanthus, although it gets less fruity in the drydown. It has a feel of apricot skin–that is probably an even better comparison than suede. November 21, 2005 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: I bought OY last week. I love it, I really love all the Hermessence line, but I prefer Ambre Narguilé, Rose Ikebana and Vetiver Tonka. Poivre Samarcande is also interesting, I find it really sexy on my skin! I agree about the OY on the drydown, It´s delicious and soft! And the samples are really generous…4 ml. Perfect for travels. November 22, 2005 at 1:15pm Reply

  • Christine: Sounds very nice! I love osmanthus, so this one is on my to sample list. Thanks! November 22, 2005 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Michel: I just discover your review today, i’m late and now i’m realy in a hurry to discover OY. i already know osmanthus from DC and i realy love 1000 in perfum forme from Patou wich i always compare with eau sauvage and la myhrre ?! , sorry but it’s my noze…, but if the leathery note is enough present and white flower note not so present so this OY will be mind , what do you think Victoria ? November 22, 2005 at 5:31pm Reply

  • mchel: thanks for your answer
    i wanted to by bois d’argent but i have to tast first OY so tomorow if i have time i’will go to Hermes November 22, 2005 at 5:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, I agree with you. While it is light, it is wonderful softness is just a delight to experience. It is a fragrance to be sprayed on liberally. I am wearing it today, and I am in love with its soft, ethereal aura. November 22, 2005 at 3:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christine, let me know what you think about Hermessence! Glad that you liked the review. November 22, 2005 at 3:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Michel, I think that OY smells almost creamy in the drydown, with a faint floral note, and more pronounced apricot (not very sweet). It is less soapy the TDC Osmanthus and most certainly not as crisp. If you love osmanthus, you will definitely enjoy Osmanthe Yunnan, but be sure to apply liberally. It is rather light. November 22, 2005 at 5:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Please let me know what you think about it. I would be curious to hear your impressions. November 22, 2005 at 7:58pm Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: V, I definitely like more OY now, my first impression was a bit wrong (although I purchased a bottle anyway…). I wore it all weekend and (fortunately) it´s my kind of scent, I felt comfortable. I also love Divine Bergamote, I prefer it at the top notes, but the drydown is much softer and classy in OY. November 28, 2005 at 10:15am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, your impressions are similar to mine. I also find OY to be softer and more elegant in the drydown. Divine Bergamote is more hesperidic and more lucid. I like the smooth aspect of OY, and it suits my mood on almost any given day. November 28, 2005 at 12:42pm Reply

  • Nancy Chan: Osmanthe Yunnan is my favourite fragrance. It smells of tea, orange and freesias, plus it smells soapy and leathery. A gorgeous fragrance which has a stronger sillage and longevity in warmer weather. February 6, 2016 at 9:11am Reply

  • Ruth: Hi Victoria. One slight correction… the tag under the creator at the bottom of the page is mistakenly showing Jean-Claude Guerlain. It should say Jean Claude Ellena. March 12, 2018 at 10:54pm Reply

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