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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56 Comments

  • Tamara: I love L’Occitan’s Green Tea. Simple, fresh and summery. July 28, 2017 at 9:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s terrific on a hot day, especially if kept in the fridge. July 30, 2017 at 6:34am Reply

  • James: I follow your column and I read your article there a couple of days ago. Was excited to see Munnar, because I also visited there, not for my honeymoon, alas. Your description made me want to go to Kerala again. July 28, 2017 at 9:08am Reply

    • Victoria: How I loved that place! July 30, 2017 at 6:34am Reply

  • KatieAnn: What an inspired and inspiring article. Your love for both place and the art of perfumery shine. Munnar sounds absolutely enchanting and your description allowed me to visualize the emerald hills enveloped in mist. I really got a sense of how perfumery is a true art form when you described Ellena’s process. And your comment “the artist’s reading of tea leaves” made me smile, as if a bit of magic is involved too! Thank you for an uplifting article, Victoria. July 28, 2017 at 10:58am Reply

    • Eliza: I’m with you! I love Victoria’s articles. July 28, 2017 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! It takes good imagination to come up with something so evocative. And it really did remind me of Munnar, not only the scents, but the whole atmosphere. July 30, 2017 at 6:36am Reply

  • Annie: One of my all time favorites! July 28, 2017 at 11:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Mine too. July 30, 2017 at 6:36am Reply

    • Neva: Exactly my words! It’s a beauty. I always thought it was very light so I preferred the Extreme version but I’m afraid it is no longer available. July 30, 2017 at 6:19pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I read this a few days ago when I had finished reading the gourmands I believe. Great article about one of my absolute top favourites. I wish he would do a spectacular black tea scent, or inspired by black tea, or one inspired by that lovely puerh au jasmin. July 28, 2017 at 11:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here. Drinking that puerh jasmine tea makes me wish Jean-Claude Ellena would get a hold of it. July 30, 2017 at 6:37am Reply

  • Eliza: As a perfume newbie, I appreciate such articles. I’m going to visit a department store this weekend and try the modern classics you you wrote about. Do you think a place like Nordstrom would have them? July 28, 2017 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear this Eliza.

      Nordstrom’s should have all but Feminite du Bois. July 30, 2017 at 6:37am Reply

      • Victoria: I double checked, and yes, it looks like for Serge Lutens you have to go to Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman or Blue Mercury. Some Sephoras carry it too, although I’m not sure which ones in the US do. July 30, 2017 at 6:39am Reply

  • Nick: I prefer The Rouge, because it’s sweeter. But The Vert is great too. July 28, 2017 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: It had a more voluptuous feel with its notes of fig. July 30, 2017 at 6:39am Reply

  • Patricia: I love tea fragrances in the summer as they are as refreshing as a tall glass of the iced beverage itself. Two of my favorites are Bulgari’s Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu and L’Artisan Thé pour un Eté. The smokier tea fragrances don’t appeal to me as much, and I wound up swapping away my bottle of Tea for Two (also by L’Artisan), though it has many enthusiastic fans. July 28, 2017 at 12:37pm Reply

    • maja: I love those two as well. I also love Elizabeth Arden Green Tea and Goutal’s Duel. July 28, 2017 at 5:16pm Reply

      • Victoria: I’m wearing Duel today! July 30, 2017 at 6:40am Reply

    • Austenfan: Another fan of Thé pour un Eté here.

      I happen to enjoy Tea for Two as well, but it’s an entirely different animal. It seems closer to Dzing! than to TpuE. July 29, 2017 at 8:52am Reply

      • Victoria: L’Artisan’s Tea for Two candle was one of their best. I don’t know if they still make it, but it had such a nice, cozy scent. July 30, 2017 at 6:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved Tea for Two, but somehow overtime I grew tired of it. It’s too one dimensional. July 30, 2017 at 6:40am Reply

      • Austenfan: I would agree, but worn occasionally it’s just fine. July 30, 2017 at 7:28am Reply

        • Victoria: It was fun to layer with L’Artisan’s Patchouli, another little gem. August 1, 2017 at 2:35am Reply

  • Alicia: How I love Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert! I can’t count the ways. I wear it abundantly in the warm seasons, but keep a bottle always at hand, just for the pleasure of its fragrance. This is a perfume I find utterly satisfying. I am also very fond of Bleu, and the now discontinued Black, which in my opinion is a masterpiece. There is something both delicate and uplifting in Thé Vert. A modern classic indeed. Thank you, Victoria for a beautiful post. July 28, 2017 at 10:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: Black was definitely a masterpiece. It’s unforgivable that Bulgari dropped it. July 30, 2017 at 6:40am Reply

  • CC: Not so much on tea but on Kerala – I wore Hermés’ Après le Mousson on holiday there during the monsoon, and now have a eerie displacement and a pang of longing every time I open the bottle. Not a much praised one, but to my mind the most memorable of the Jardin’s series. July 29, 2017 at 1:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I also love Jardin Après la Mousson, perhaps, more than all others. It’s the most underrated of them all. July 30, 2017 at 6:42am Reply

  • Richard Goller: This is now also on my must-try list, Victoria. I love tea fragrances, such as L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea For Two. What do you think of Elizabeth Arden White Tea please? Thanks. R July 29, 2017 at 6:31am Reply

    • Victoria: I like White Tea for its fresh, bright accord. It actually retains this quality throughout. What about you? July 30, 2017 at 6:43am Reply

      • Richard Goller: Hello Victoria, agree! I think Elizabeth Arden White Tea is one of their best yet. Simple, understated. R July 31, 2017 at 8:39am Reply

        • Victoria: The original Green is also a versatile, easy-to-like blend, but White seems fresher. August 1, 2017 at 2:41am Reply

          • Richard Goller: I will look out for that one, Victoria. Thank you for taking the time to respond to all the comments you get. R August 1, 2017 at 11:19am Reply

  • Carolyn Middeton: I loved Bulgari The Vert. When it was originally launched, & only available in Bulgari shops, I happened to be in London so popped into their Sloane Street shop to ask about it. You have to bear in mind I was VERY casually dressed, & you have to be ‘buzzed in’ to their shops, you can’t just wander in off the street! Anyway, as soon as I asked about the fragrance, I was asked to take a seat, handed a glass of fizz, & a delightful chap brought me a sample – & what a sample it was! A beautifully crafted miniature book, gorgeously illustrated, describing the creation of the fragrance, with a cut-out section containing a miniature replica of the full-size bottle containing the perfume. I was thrilled & had a lovely half hour chatting with the guy. All these years later I still have the book! July 29, 2017 at 8:32am Reply

    • Austenfan: That is a wonderful story, did you keep the little bottle as well? July 29, 2017 at 4:24pm Reply

      • Carolyn Middeton: Of course – it’s in its place in the cut-out section of the book! July 30, 2017 at 7:05am Reply

    • Victoria: I absolutely love this story, Carolyn. That fragrance made Bulgari a perfume house of note. July 30, 2017 at 6:44am Reply

      • Carolyn Middeton: Thank you, Victoria. My aim, all these years later & now I have the resources, is to pop back in to a Bulgari shop & buy something from their jewellery line, at which time I may comment on how much I enjoyed my perfume experience with them! July 30, 2017 at 7:09am Reply

        • Victoria: I’m sure they will appreciate it. My best experience as an impecunious student was at an Hermes boutique, where I was shown all of their perfumes and given samples. The worst was at Chanel, where a sales associate looked me up and down and pretended she was too busy. August 1, 2017 at 2:35am Reply

          • Carolyn Middeton: Which of course means that as & when you do have the financial wherewithal to treat yourself to something, a Chanel boutique won’t be top of your list! When will some organisations learn? I had the same experience as the Hermes outlet at Frankfurt airport last year – although I was wearing my Hermes watch with its signature double wraparound strap, I had to ask the sales lady where the watch strips were, after looking around for a little while & being ignored – they “don’t carry straps” at their airport outlets, apparently…totally unlike my experience at their Sloane Street store where I’d popped in just for a look & ended up buying the watch very much on impulse. August 1, 2017 at 6:20am Reply

            • Victoria: Very strange. It comes down so much to the staff of each particular boutique. I agree with you, negative experiences really color our perception of the companies and their products. August 3, 2017 at 1:15am Reply

    • SilverMoon: What a lovely story. When I started reading it, I expected a Julia Robert’s in Pretty Woman experience, so it was all the better for its happy ending! 😀

      I have tested and liked the Bulgari green and blue teas, but my preferred teas have been Osmanthe Yunnan and Tea for Two. Having said that the latter seems less interesting today than when I bought it some years ago. Still refreshing in summer though. July 30, 2017 at 10:35am Reply

      • Carolyn Middeton: My apologies, SilverMoon, only just twigged your comment was in response to my original post! Your Pretty Woman comparison did make me chuckle, thank you = see my later comment re Frankfurt airport…! August 3, 2017 at 2:04am Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you for taking us on a wonderful journey, Victoria. I love Eau Parfumee au the vert for its effortleness, I can reach for it no matter what I wear and the season and be transported and now you gave me a place to imagine too.

    Haven’t tried au the bleu and noir yet but enjoy au the rouge very much for its nutty, fruity notes. The the vert avatar Eau de Gaga is really nice and a steal too! July 29, 2017 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I forgot about Lady Gaga, so thank you for reminding me. It’s actually an excellent tea cologne and so inexpensive too. July 30, 2017 at 6:45am Reply

    • Jane: Eau de gaga is fab at the price. I would definitely pay more for it. I heard it’s been discontinued, but I’m not sure. Does anyone happen to know? July 30, 2017 at 4:13pm Reply

      • Victoria: I think that it’s still around. August 1, 2017 at 2:38am Reply

  • Jane: I adore bulgari’s the vert and have had a long term commitment to this and Arden’s green tea during the warmer weather. The vert is my modern no.5.

    I’ve worn bulgari black for about 15 years in winter, but now it’s discontinued. Do you have any recommendations of a similar replacement for a smoky warm tea? July 30, 2017 at 7:39am Reply

    • SilverMoon: Hi Jane from another disappointed Bulgari Black fan. Although not quite the same, it may be worth trying Santa Maria Novella ‘s Nostalgia. It has the same car mechanics workshop and floral combination. You need to be patient for the drydown to settle into a really soft perfume. July 30, 2017 at 10:41am Reply

      • Jane: Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll try it. My favourite thing about black though is the smoky tea opening, which sets me up perfectly for a cold winter day. July 30, 2017 at 4:15pm Reply

        • SilverMoon: Ah yes I know what you mean. It might be worth trying the Jo Malone tea perfumes to see if any hit the mark? One has leathery aspects but don’t know if any have smoky accords. I don’t know them except for a single sniff/test on paper and wrists (for the Darjeeling). And if an smoky incence with floral would work, then I suggest trying Seville a l’Aube (i love it, but many don’t- but that’s the case with Black too). July 31, 2017 at 4:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried Comme des Garcons The (Tea)? I think that it’s still around. August 1, 2017 at 2:36am Reply

  • Luxe Ford: Barney’s Route du The precedes Cologne au The Vert with several years. It resembles Arden’s Green Tea more than Bulgari’s and is quite unpleasent in my opinion (like a lilac-scented household detergent) but it was all the rage for a while. August 4, 2017 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, yes, I remember it. Not one of my favorites either for the reason you’ve mentioned. August 7, 2017 at 1:21pm Reply

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