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!)