Coffee and Tea Scents

By March

Brewing coffee on Sunday morning, I caught a whiff of my leftover Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger (I can find leftover FdO for days) and I thought: wow, what a great combination of smells.   The sweetness of orange blossom and the rich smoothness of coffee seem made for each other.  It got me thinking about coffee scents in general, which lead to contemplation of tea scents.  Let’s chat about both today.

Coffee shows up as a note in all kinds of fragrances.  In some of them it’s the focus; in others it’s part of the orchestra.  Coffee’s richness and its affinity for woody notes lends itself to use in guy-fragrances.  I wish Mugler A*Men Pure Coffee, with its strong coffee smell, was more widely available.  A cheaper, easier-to-find coffee fix is Ralph Lauren Polo Double Black, which is pretty much dark coffee and woods.  The coffee-spice-chest of L’Artisan Navigateur (not to be confused with their Navegar) is the Johnny Depp/Pirates of the Caribbean of coffee fragrances, maybe a bit lighter on the eyeliner and heavier on the rum.  If you’re looking for a strong shot of coffee, it’s hard to beat Ava Luxe’s perfumista-cult favorite Café Noir, with a runner-up nod to DSH Perfumes’ scent by the same name.   The Big Cheese cheerfully worked himself through a large bottle of Jo Malone Black Vetyver Café, which is easy to find and hits, in my opinion, the perfect balance between the richness of coffee and the rootiness of vetiver, smooth and not too bitter.

Tea in perfume’s a bit trickier concept.  Tea, as I think of it, is as much about the mouth as the nose.  We can conjure up the strong smell of coffee pretty easily, but tea’s more elusive and varied.  Some teas, like Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong or jasmine, have quite strong, distinctive aromas.  In contrast, tea fragrances are often more abstract – they’re more like the concept of tea’s various facets – e.g., leafy, tannic, sweet, refreshing, herbal or citrus – than the smell of a bag of, say, Lipton in a mug.    Tea scents may be less about “tea: the smell of” and more about “tea: the feeling of.”  Tea scents often feature an additional citrus note, or an herbal hint of bergamot or mint, the way we’d doctor it up before drinking it.

Bvlgari’s iconic Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert, done by Jean-Claude Ellena, is a fun place to start – who knows what green tea smells like?  Well, I do (there are a number of varieties) and, news flash, none of them smell much like Thé Vert.  Thé Vert is the perfect example of a Concept Tea.  It might be described as both refreshing and luxe (Thé Vert was originally intended by Bvlgari as an in-store scent, basically an olfactory background, until … well, read the full story involving Mariage Freres and other fun plot twists here.)   It doesn’t really smell like tea per se, more a citrus scent; it’s got all sorts of goodies in it – rose, cardamom, pepper, jasmine, woods – that flesh it out without making it seem heavy.  While I’m thinking of it, here’s a link to Bois de Jasmin’s very recent review.

Bvlgari followed up with Thé Blanc and Thé Rouge, neither of which get tons of love in the blogosphere; I like them well enough to own a bottle of each, because I actually wear them.  They, like other tea scents, lend themselves to our long, hot, humid summers.  Again, they’re both conceptual – Blanc is herbal and woody; Rouge really does smell like roiboos tea to me, a smell I adore, but also musky and a touch of fruit while still being light and refreshing.

L’Artisan Tea for Two smells like smoky lapsang or dirty socks, depending.  L’Artisan Thé Pour Un Ete is a lovely tea-and-citrus by Olivia Giacobetti that’s as evanescent as a summer shower, even on me, the Scent Sponge.  The obscure-ish Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves – Tea is a great smoky, leafy black tea, as is CB I Hate Perfume’s Russian Caravan TeaHermessence Osmanthe Yunnan is a fine osmanthus tea for the twenty seconds the tea lasts on me, after which it’s a delicate floral.  In black-tea world, no list (at least no list of mine) would be complete without the bargain-priced Speziali Fiorentini Black Tea (Te Nero) which costs $28 online and is, to me, a glorious, straight-up black tea, leaf and smoke and a dab of rubber, with maybe a hint of citrus.  The EdP is longer lasting and a bit more complex than the body mist.  Their White Tea smells more herbal than tea-ish to me (although I like it), and their Green Tea I haven’t tried.  Finally, Jo Malone White Jasmine and Mint isn’t even a proper tea scent, but the combination of mint and jasmine feels very tea-ish to me.

While I love the smell of coffee, and (in theory) coffee scents, they aren’t something I reach for very often.  In the winter I’m after other kinds of comfort, and in summer they feel wrong.  Tea scents, on the other hand, I can’t get enough of.  Perhaps they’re enough like colognes that they seem right both in high summer and in winter when I’m craving a cheery fix.

Okay, your turn.  What are your favorite coffee and tea fragrances?   Feel free to name the eleventy-million scents I’ve overlooked.

 

Image: wikimedia commons, some rights reserved.

117 Comments
Musette March 3, 2011

Update: Drinking a great Sumatra half/half coffee blend (can't do full caff anymore)..and wearing Agraria Bitter Orange. The only thing that would make this better is if I were enjoying it in a suite at the Eden Roc. But this'll do in a pinch. ;) xo >-)

Austenfan March 3, 2011

Late to the tea and coffee party. I like the smell of fresh coffee. I hardly drink it though and don't think I would want it very prominently in a perfume. I love tea, all kinds. Proper loose tea, not the stuff in bags. My favourite Lapsang-ish scent is Eau du Fier. When first put on it smells very much like my Tarry Souchong. Other tea fragrances I enjoy are Thé vert, Bvlgari, Thé pour un été, Tea for two, L' Artisan. I still need to find a scent that smells like high quality black tea, not smoked. I have been looking at the CSP Thé on ebay. Have not made up my mind yet. Fun post again!

John March 3, 2011

I found a fine artisan Tea perfume by Providence Perfume. I was searching for a Rooibos perfume, and found a great Oolong tea, softened by Osmanthus, with notes of beeswax and honey. It's such an epitome of tea, that the juice is black! http://providenceperfume.blogspot.com/2010/10/providence-perfume-cos-osmanthus-oolong.html I took a gamble on this blind-buy. It is a winner.

Sara A. March 3, 2011

Does anyone else find that Tea for Two smells like an ashtray on them for about 10 minutes?

Aparatchick March 3, 2011

I love Ava Luxe Cafe Noir - it's definitely coffee but not too strong or too weird. She makes a Black Tea scent that I get plenty of spice from, but not tea. I'll have to try her Mint Tea, sounds refreshing for summer. The Rouge is my favorite of the Bvlgari's; I went through a decant last summer, but I've found it works well for me even in the winter; it has a full-bodied feel to it more so than the green or white Bvlgaris. I love, love, love Demeter's Earl Grey, which smells (I nearly typed "tastes") just like the real thing. Unfortunately it vanishes in literally 2 minutes. :-( Estee Lauder Pure White Linen Light Breeze (hereinafter known as PWLLB) is one of those "smells tea-ish" fragrances. They claim a Darjeeling tea accord and it's a very nice summertime wallpaper scent. Note to self: must get to Anthropolgie to try those Novel Collection frags.

pyramus March 3, 2011

Demeter has for sure four different coffee scents and maybe more. Espresso is sort of horrible, very burnt-coffee; Cappuccino, candy-sweet and not very convincing; Black Russian, boozy-drinky; and Tiramisu, sweet and patisserie but lots of coffee. I'm still waiting for them to do Coffee with Cream and Two Sugars (or double-double, as we say in Canada), and then I will buy a large bottle and wear it always. Bond's New Haarlem is heaven. If I had smelled it before I bought Mugler Pure Coffee, I might have bought the Bond instead, although it is sort of ridiculously expensive. Still, how can you put a price on heaven? The Mugler is gorgeous, though--basically A*Men with some ingredients removed, the sweetness pulled back, and the coffee shoved up front. So luscious.

Claudia March 2, 2011

I had a sample of Ava Luxe’s Café Noir. I put some on, and stuck the vial in my pants pocket. The top came off and it soaked through the fabric, and......nobody noticed. Now I think I like New Haarlem better.

odonata9 March 2, 2011

I don't think anyone has mentioned those tea scents that were at Anthropologie - A Rather Novel Collection? While I don't have any of them, my SIL has one and there are 2 I considered buying (the green tea and darjeeling ones, I think). Maybe they'll go on sale, which is the only time I ever get stuff at Anthropologie! I've been thinking for a long time about getting Ava Luxe's Moroccan Mint Tea - any comments on that one?

sweetlife March 2, 2011

Reading through the comments and coming back to say: a) I have to try Duel, and b)in the category of things that "feel" like tea, but don't necessarily smell like it, I'd put Madragore in there. What do you think, March? Love that rubric by the way, and the whole post, which I somehow failed to say, above.

Teri March 2, 2011

Coffee notes tend to skew bitter on me, so the only scent I own that has much of a coffee note is Belle En Rykiel. Tea scents on the other hand are favorites: The Bulgari scents, the Creative Universe tea-based scents, Osmanthus Interdite, Tea for Two, and PdN's Fig Tea for summer (all previously mentioned). When life overwhelms me I always reach for a cup of tea, so I think my love of tea scents is due to that association of comfort and relaxation.

rosarita March 2, 2011

New Haarlem is my favorite coffee scent, and I esp love it on cold, rainy days, but my decant has been around for several yrs. so I obviously don't reach for it often. Bulgari The' Blanc, on the other hand, I'm on my second bottle of in the same time period. The Bulgari is one of my summer staples, although I've been wearing it this winter for a change. I get compliments on that scent more than any other thing I wear. I'm very fond of the Bulgari Green, Red & Black teas, also.

Ann March 2, 2011

Hi March, love this post! So glad you did it. As much as I adore tea in the cup, only a few tea scents have reeled me in. Those include AG Duel, Cartier L'Heure 13 and Fougueuse; and I'm currently liking Atelier's Oolong Infini but awaiting more testing. As for coffee scents, I like Bond 9 New Haarlem, but probably best in its candle form, rather than on me, although it's quite nice with a bit of Bond's Little Italy sprayed on top.

Dawn March 2, 2011

No coffee scents for me. But TEA scents..... now we're talking. :) My favorite new perfume with a great tea note is L'Heure Fougueuse. I never never yerbamate could be so sensual. Love this perfume. Others in my collection are: Cartier's XIII - love it but don't wear it much. I admire that dark smokey tea/birch tar combo. Nez a Nez Vanithe. L'Artisan The Pour un Ete. Creative Universe Element of Surprise. There's probably more but that's all I can think of off the top of my head. ~D

Kat March 2, 2011

I've tried most but the only one that lasts and is truly tea for me is Te Nero.

Amy K March 2, 2011

My favorite coffee fragrance is probably New Haarlem, and for tea I love the simplicity of Elizabeth W Sweet Tea in the summer. I would love a tea fragrance that smells like Constant Comment!

Heidi March 2, 2011

I love the hibiscus tea note in Costume National's Scent Intense. It's lovely.

Dionne March 2, 2011

I don't drink coffee or even like the smell of it (I always wince when I have to go down that aisle at the grocery store) but, go figure, it seems I don't mind hints of coffee in my perfume. I'm also singing the praises of Ava Luxe's Café Noir, although to me it doesn't smell like straight-up coffee: it's smokier, nuttier, and smoother. I just got a sample and I'm enjoying it on its own, but I can tell this one will work fantastic layered as well. Definitely FBW for me. Another perfume with a coffee note is Ineke's Field Notes from Paris. Unique and beautiful, but sometimes I find it a bit much. I just discovered that when you layer it with Ineke's Evening Edged in Gold (which can be too sweet at times) they seem to cancel each other's more difficult parts and smell wooonderful. I can see myself wearing this combo a LOT. JCE's au Thé Vert is one of the few "green-ish" fragrances that seems to work well on my skin (galbanum and verbena smell *horrible* on me, so I'm on a quest to find a great green fragrance). I know it's quite citrus, but in my head perfume categories are Venn diagrams instead of straight categories, and this sits in the intersection of green and citrus for me. It's still too bloody cold where I live to wear this, as anything spring or summer-like just depresses me, but it'll be in heavy rotation in the spring.

Kathryn March 2, 2011

I love the list that's growing here! I'll add Geisha O-Cha from Maria McElroy's Aroma M line (gorgeous packaging on this one, too) for Japanese green tea. And although it's expanding the category a bit, I adore Parfumerie Generale's Harmatan Noir for Moroccan mint tea, as refreshing in here in New England as it must be on a windswept African desert.

london March 2, 2011

Elizabeth W Sweet Tea! And it's affordable too.

cathleen56 March 2, 2011

L'Or de Torrente had a great coffee note -- sweetened, black coffee. I say "had" because I think it's been discontinued.

jennifer March 2, 2011

I love Wood Coffee by CdG.That is my all time favorite coffee scent. Since it's hard to get a hold of now. I also love Ava Luxe Cafe Noir. Wonderful! Not to strong.

Angela March 2, 2011

Remember By by Dolce Gabanna? The one with the blue leopard pattern? That one has a nice coffee note. I wish it were easier to come by. For tea, I love Duel. I really, really need a bottle of White Jasmine and Mint for summer, too.

olfactoria March 2, 2011

My favorite tea fragrance is Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini, lovely and stays for hours, unlike may other light scents.

Alice C March 2, 2011

I really like 5 O'Clock and Tea for Two. I drink a ton of coffee...I'll have to sample a few and see what I think. I do have a small sample of the Borneo, but I just don't find coffee in there. I get camphor and patch, but not coffee....

Marina March 2, 2011

Ayala Moriel Finjan is lovely.

DinaC March 2, 2011

My brother's signature scent is Polo Double Black. I never noticed the coffee note before, but now I'll have to sniff him more carefully next time I see him. :-) He's always drinking coffee, so maybe that's why I never noticed it before. I, on the other hand, don't drink coffee at all, but I like the smell of it. I detect it in Sonia Rykiel's Belle en Rykiel, which is lavender and coffee to my nose. I love to drink tea and wear tea scents. This blog and all the comments are great, because it gives me a long list of new ones to try. I like the Bulgari The Verte and L'Occitane's The Vert, too. I've sniffed some others, like Guerlain Tokyo, but I need to try it on my skin.

Olfacta March 2, 2011

It was au te Vert that re-awakened a dormant passion for perfume and led me down this path and so...here I am! The Extreme version; the other one doesn't last long on me. I still love it and still wear it in spring and summer. I loved their white tea too, but it's so ephemeral on me that it barely makes it from bottle to skin before disappearing. Coffee, on the other hand, is something one drinks, as in gallons of. I have Ava Luxe Cafe Noir -- a sample -- which is interesting and I will wear one of these days. A friend gave me a vial of coffee blossom absolute, which is de-vine. New Haarlem is a little much for me. Maybe I haven't explored the note fully enough. It's early, still on the first cup.

dinazad March 2, 2011

AG Duel rules! I also like CB I hate Perfume Russian Caravan. These two are as close as you get to sticking your nose into a canister of high-class tea (one of the great pleasures of life, surely?). L'Artisan Tea for Two is nice as well, but more of a cuppa-tea-with-cream-and-scones-on-a-lace-doily kind of scent for me. As for coffee, I'll second or fourth the Ava Luxe Café Noir love.

Francesca March 2, 2011

I like coffee, I like tea, I like the boys and----no, that's not it. But while I do enjoy all kinds of coffee and many teas of the "Rule Britannia!" variety, I'm not a fan of wearing them. (especially when "wearing" involves having spilled some on my lap). Then I realized there is a coffee scent that I like, but it's ambient; cire Trudon Ernesto candles. Because I have recently been reminded that I shouldn't talk about anything unless I've read the fifteen most verifiably accurate volumes on the subject, I figured the least I could do was tap-tap over to Aedes: cigars? Check. Leather? Check. Woods? Check. smoke? that, too. Guns??? whatever. But no coffee. I still get coffee out of this one.

Melissa March 2, 2011

I like the way that New Haarlem smells...on others. I can't wear it myself. Likewise for other coffee scents although I would like to try A*Men Pure Coffee. As for tea, The Pour un Ete would be great, but my skin devours it and I prefer Guerlain Tokyo, which imo is sadly underrated. It doesn't really scream tea- the note is there (green tea) along with a pretty light jasmine and wood. It still retains a Guerlainesque feel too. For a hint of tea in a totally off-beat, rarely mentioned scent, I like Parfums de Rosine, Rose Praline. It's mostly a rose/gourmand, but it has a lurking-in-the-shadows tea note that adds an odd twist to an already unique scent.

*jen March 2, 2011

You should check out Frazer Parfum's Chapter 3: Coffee and Orange Blossom. I'm not sure how I feel about it - it's not a distinct coffee note on my skin, and the orange blossoms aren't what I expected, but I think I kind of like it anyway. And your skin chemistry may do it more favors..? I just reviewed New Haarlem and quite like it, but it lasts SO damn long on the skin! (not a normal complaint, but I'm odd) The Cafe Noirs are next on my list! *jen

Thanna March 2, 2011

Aaahhh...you've hit on one of my favorite notes. I adore tea scents! Already getting a sample order together based on the comments so far. Tea for Two is one of my top five scents. I don't get sweet at all from this one - just spicy black tea. Wearing Osmanthus Interdite today which is, to my nose, all about tea with just a hint of osmanthus. Heresy, I know, but I prefer it to Osmanthe Yunnan. It just has more oomph! Can't forget AG Duel though - another lovely tea scent and more unisex (in my SO's opinion). For warmer weather Atelier's Oolang Infini is my recent favorite although Element of Surprise is a lovely white tea. Elizabeth W Sweet Tea is another inexpensive treat for a summer tea scent. Much as I love my java I don't particularly care to smell like it. The coffee note in Borneo is about as far as I'm willing to go there.

Carolyn March 2, 2011

I'm a fangirl of Penhaligon's Malabah... Head Notes Lemon, Earl Grey Tea and Cilantro Heart Notes Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Rose and Orris Base Notes Sweet Amber, Sandalwood and Musk

Louise March 2, 2011

I have yet to find my great Coffee Love scent, but agree on Angel Pure Coffee, and the regular men's Angel, though it has a whole lot else going on. I'm not a big tea drinker, but I really like PdN's Figue tea scent in the summer-well balanced between the fruit and tea, and very long-lasting for an Eau Fraiche. Memoire Liquide had (has?) a black tea scent that is very close to a rich, spicy chai and really warming. I like CG's Russian Tea Caravan, and have cherished a small samp of CSP's original The' -and recently found a bottle on ebay-I sure hope it's still good; it's a wonderful, rich, spicy tea scent. Yum.

Sherri M. March 2, 2011

How about Guerlain Tokyo? It's a nice green floral and tea mix, perfect for summer, and the new L'Heure Fougeuse is an elegant tea scent. Don't know any coffee scents, but I'm taking notes and especially want to try Cafe Noir (both AvaLuxe & DSH). Thanks for the great review! :-)

Melanie March 2, 2011

I've lately been enjoying DSH The Vert and Bancha (although a coworker said Bancha smelled like the floor at Macy's; not sure if that's good or bad). I get a lot of honey from Tea for Two, it's a great comfort scent in the winter. I love Polo Double Black on a man. One of my favorite coffee scents is Parfums de Nicolai Balkis: coffee, rose, and raspberry.

Fiordiligi March 2, 2011

As I never drink tea and actually heartily dislike it, a tea note in perfume is a complete deal-breaker for me. It turned me off that Cartier from last year that everyone raved about (was it X111?) - I couldn't get past it. Coffee I love, and I recently bought the Ava Luxe Cafe Noir but haven't actually got round to wearing it yet. On the whole, drinks are for drinking and not applying to the body, it seems to me! After all, you wouldn't drink Shalimar would you? (Well, I suppose some people might.....)

Furriner March 2, 2011

I really like Tea For Two (it's in my top 5) and Eau Parfumée au Thé Rouge of the three Bvlgaris. I agree the Vert really doesn't smell a whole lot like green tea... at least Japanese varieties I've been exposed to. Anyway, I'm glad you said so, too. I've had several Japanese people tell me they thought L'Artisan's Piment Brûlant smelled exactly like green tea, though. What does this say about what?

Erin T March 2, 2011

Just chiming in to remind you that Etat Libre d'Orange has an orange blossom and coffee scent, Divin' Enfant. As LT/TS point out, it hangs together beautifully for a few minutes and then falls apart completely - too much marshmallow. (Note that you never find yourself writing "needs more marshmallow"...) So you're right on the money with your combo there. My favorite coffee scent is probably Yohji Homme. Fave tea is OY, though I agree it smells only vaguely like tea to me. A friend just gave me a bottle of the (apparently recently reformulated) Etro Palais Jamais. I remember that used to be a strange one: very smoky and very herbal (sage, with that slightly urinous angle). Normally I would loudly decry the tinkering, but smoky fragrances always smell like bratwurst to me, and the current Palais Jamais is now just a lovely jasmine tea, with only a touch of smoke.

Natalie March 2, 2011

I know it's supposed to smell like maté, but Cartier Treizième Heure is very lapsang souchong-y to me (hmm, time to revisit Eau Rare Matale for comparison). I wish Tea for Two wasn't so gosh-darned sweet on me, because I can never get enough of my beloved lapsang.

Musette March 2, 2011

Bvlgari The' Verte was my first tea scent. I still love it, still wear it. I find tea scents pretty easy to wear (you know my Great and Abiding Love for Agraria Bitter Orange, which smells just like Constant Comment tea......swooooon) but coffee? No. Strange, because I much prefer coffee to tea, as a beverage. Right now, though, I'm covered in the scent of bbq. Which trumps everything! xoxoxo >-)

Tiara March 2, 2011

You hit my favorites with Osmanthe Yunnan (fleeting as it is) and Tea For Two. However, I'm looking forward to trying the new tea scents from Jo Malone and want to experiment with laying them. Read a review recently and they sounded interesting.

Rick March 2, 2011

Bond's New Haarlem can get a little suffocating, but the initial coffee part of it is pretty beguiling.

sweetlife March 2, 2011

Ah, you missed my favorite tea scent, one that I think is quite true in feel and fragrance: Parfumerie Generale's L'Eau de Matale. Goes on with a smoky blast, like lapsang souchong, then mellows to more of a brew, with floral notes in the finish. So wonderful for summer (as you noted). I have trouble with coffee in fragrance--too often it smells like a bad candle to me. I want a something more with it. Orange blossom, cardamom and coffee. Now there's a candle. (Where's Victoria? Order up! ;))