Let’s Have Tea! Annick Goutal L’Ile au Thé, and others.

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Illustration from the Annick Goutal website.


By March

Tea fragrances are a delight – perfect this time of year, just when it’s getting warm outside, and well into the summer.  I know we’ve covered tea before, but there’s always time for tea.  Here are some random thoughts, beginning with the inspiration for today’s ramble:  Annick Goutal’s new L’Ile au Thé  EDT.  Here’s the blurbage, from their website:

 Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen invite us on a trip to Korea, on the paradise island of Jeju, known for its charm, the beauty of its landscapes and ranked as one of the wonders of nature.  Close your eyes and imagine… the orchards of mandarin trees, their orange color and their scent bathing the volcanic hills, then farther tea plantations which come to lick the streams of the ocean, their green leaves out of sight, the very ones, so precious and sacred, used for the tea ceremony. Finally, at the bend of a path, notice a magnificent osmanthus in bloom and the sweet scent of its white flowers floating in a garden.  L’Ile au Thé is an infusion of well-being, an invigorating and soothing perfume to be shared.

I can’t help but think L’Ile au Thé is designed to appeal to the “Asian” market, which apparently doesn’t want to smell like trifle, trollop or truffle.  “To be shared” means unisex, is my guess.  Anyway, there’s a fizzy burst of citrus at the top to get your attention, but the tea and slightly floral sweetness comes on rather slowly.  The tea is smooth and muted, and not as immediately apparent as in, say, Duel (also a fantastic summer scent).  There’s an interesting effect for about the first hour, a drifting thread of a note that reminds me faintly of immortelle.  It’s like hay and warm sand, and is my favorite part of the trip.

I wound up doing an arm-to-arm comparison with Bulgari Thé Blanc, which I had sitting there and which has a similar weight and feel.  The Bulgari’s much more polished and luxe; it smells like it belongs in the luxury-goods department.  The Goutal evokes more florist and less chemist, if that makes any sense at all (although I’m not suggesting there’s anything remotely “natural” about whatever’s in the Goutal bottle.)

L’Ile au Thé is lovely, but a powerhouse it is not.  If you’re going to sample, I recommend getting a spray atomizer and drenching yourself, frankly.  The deployment I’ve enjoyed the most occurred when I put it on before bedtime and got it all over my nightgown.  It really sticks around on fabric, and it’s quite noticeable and delightful when I reach for that nightgown every evening.

Other teas: well, I quite like the dry-herbal Bulgari Thé Blanc, and I’m one of the five people who liked the dry-weird Bulgari Thé Rouge, which is allegedly based on roiboos.  (I’m ignoring the magnificent L’Artisan Tea For Two in this post because to me, its smoke and spice places it squarely in the winter-comfort-scent territory).  Patricia de Nicolai Fig-Tea also gets a lot of wear in my house but it’s stronger/sweeter than most of these, which feel more like cologne than anything else, whatever they’re called.  There’s a fantastic CB I Hate Perfume tea (maybe more than one – Summer Kitchen?).  And of course I would be remiss in not mentioning the famous Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan, which is worshiped and adored by legions of scented fanatics who are not me.  For simple, straight, uncomplicated black-tea-on-the-back-porch it’s hard to beat Speziali Fiorentini Te Nero, which used to be available at Rodman’s in DC, which is near me, for less than $30 (there’s a mist and an EDP) but I’ve never seen it in another store.  And of course there’s still Annick Goutal’s Duel, which by all appearances is still wildly popular and deservedly so – I like it much better than the (also wildly popular) Hadrien, which on the wrong day smells like lemon Pledge on me.

OK – your turn!   What have I forgotten?  How do you feel about tea fragrances?  Do you layer them with colognes or citrus? (tea with lemon!  Hibiscus tea!)





  • kindcrow says:

    Thanks for the review. For Speziali Fiorentini Te Nero, see the bottom of the page at http://www.emporioitaliano.com/White_Tea.html.

  • leathermountain says:

    Another from CB is Russian Tea Caravan, very pretty. And there’s that new Masque one, Russian Tea. I haven’t tried that on skin, but the blotter smelled very much of black tea! Mostly though I just wish I had a pretty bottle of Duel.

  • Tara C says:

    I enjoy all of the Bulgari tea fragrances, and L’Eau de l’Artisan which is a tea scent as well to my nose. Haven’t tried the new AG yet but expect to try it next month.

  • Kathryn says:

    I’m such a pushover for perfume prose. When they write “Close your eyes and imagine….” I totally can. L’Ile au The sounds utterly beguiling. I’d love to go to Jeju and see and smell for myself.

    Unfortunately my imaginings usually outstrip the actual perfumes. I’m beginning to worry that there may be an inverse relationship of how much I respond to the description to how much I’ll end up liking the fragrance. Fueguia, Boadiciea, Histoires de Parfums are all complete failures on me, every single one, and I even liked how those perfume houses spell their names. I now have a sample pack of Imaginary Authors that I’m hesitating to sniff. I find their copy so amusing that I don’t want to risk spoiling my enjoyment by being disappointed by the perfumes.

    Good thing my previous experiences with Annick Goutal have been so generally positive. I have a sample of L’Ile au The on the way hoping against hope that it will smell as good to me as it sounds.

  • Amy K says:

    It still hasn’t warmed up here quite enough to reach for tea fragrances yet, but as soon as it does I’ll grab The Pour un Ete. My other favorite is Elizabeth W Sweet Tea. (I just had to peek at the Elizabeth W website to make sure it’s still around.) Apparently there’s an entire line of Sweet Tea body products now, and I might have to splurge on the hand soap and candle this summer.

  • KirstenMarie says:

    L’Artisan Tea for Two is still wearable here in Cambridge in the UK; it’s blowing up a storm and stripping the petals off the crabapple trees so much that it looks like it’s snowing! Chilly too. Perfect timing for a tea-time post! I also love Fig Tea, but am out. Need a new bottle, though am now curious about the Goutal and Bulgari. Surrender to Chance, here I come! ????

    • March says:

      Ugh, your weather sounds awful — a lot like it’s been here until this week! I think it’s going to be one of those weird “spring” patterns where it goes from cold and blustery to humid/summer and not much in between. I hope it warms up soon for you! I got my bottle of PdN at their teeny nook of a store in London, which was great fun to visit.

  • Rina says:

    My favorite tea scent is By Kilian Tea Imperial, but I’m a sucker for jasmine tea. It’s perfect for Spring!

  • Ann says:

    Yay, March — tea! A subject very near and dear to my heart, too, as you know. I’m so glad you’ve written about the new AG; I was hesitant about it at first, but now think I’ll take the plunge for a decant. Thanks!! Hope you and the kids are all doing well and enjoying spring. And happy early Mother’s Day to you!

    • March says:

      Thanks, hon, and to you too! I think we’re having dinner…. I really want a bottle of that AG, but I’ve promised myself to take another plunge into basement storage and drag up all my summer frags first. I won’t have a bottle of the new AG, obviously, but whatever’s down there should get some love.

  • Irina says:

    another lover of “The Rouge”, I’m a big, big fan
    see, we’re already 5

    • March says:

      OK I stand utterly corrected about The Rouge. For whatever reason, when it first came out I felt like I was the only person who wasn’t going, meh. It’s nice to have the company!

  • Dina C. says:

    I was lucky enough to buy a big bottle of the Bulgari Parfumee au The Rouge for a song a few years back and have really enjoyed it. Today I dabbed on some au The Vert from a sample vial to remember what that one smelled like. So good. So clean, elegant and spa-like. I know they used to make a ton of ancillary products in this scent, but I’m not sure if they’re still available. For me, tea scents are a perfect fit in the summer here in Virginia. They go well with the heat and humidity. On any day when drinking iced tea sounds good, wearing a tea scent is equally refreshing. I need to check out a bunch of the ones that the other posse peeps are mentioning, including this new AG one.

    • March says:

      I’m swinging by Bloomie’s later, I’m going to resniff these… you know, I never fell for the Vert, which of course is the big hit. I feel like I need to give it another sniff, I can’t even remember what my issue was, except I think it’s sweeter (?) than the other two, but maybe not. Hey, it’s an excuse to go eyeball some lipsticks…

  • rosarita says:

    Hey, I like Bulgari Au The Rouge too, it’s the walnut note I appreciate. Why aren’t nut notes used more often in perfumery, what smells better than, say, toasted pistachios? Maybe they’re hard to recreate. Sorry, I digress – Bulgari Au The Blanc is really a scent I take for granted and out of all the perfumes I own, it’s the one that’s been repurchased more than once. The classic Bulgari Au The Vert is a favorite, too. I should try the Goutal.

    • March says:

      It is nutty, isn’t it? Kind of an earthy nuttiness. I feel like “nutty” winds up folded into super-rich gourmands — body-butter things like Laura Mercier Pistachio that smell like bakeries. But that smell should be in more “hey, I’m outdoors” fragrances. LOL The Blanc is also one of the veeeery few I had to get a second bottle of, because I wear it so much during the summer when almost anything else seems unbearable.

    • Vanie says:

      You really put your finger on why I like it: the nuttiness! I hadn’t realize it before!

  • Vanie says:

    I’m also amongst the five people who like Au The Rouge! I find it highly wearable for day-to-day. I also enjoy Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber, which was one of the first three bottles I bought since getting (for real) into perfume.
    I recently tested a sample of Ava Luxe Moroccan Tea, and I quite liked the minty green veil in created. I don’t see this one mention ever on blogs.

    • March says:

      Cool, there are more fans of The Rouge than I realized. The JM one is super-pretty, I’d forgotten that one. And the Ava Luxe… I should root around, I swear I had a sample at one time.

    • masha7 says:

      I love the Te Rouge, too! The green and white versions are very pretty, but the red is pure comfort and love. Though I admit I’m partial to iced sweet tea and it reminds me of that. I’m eager to try the new blue one.