Artisanal teas are one of those bandwagons that just keeps getting bigger and better every year, so it should come as no surprise that the legions of admirers climbing on board are growing too. As often happens with a bandwagon, people find more and more creative outlets for extending its reach. So it was with a mixture of amusement and blasé that I read the following headline in a recent Los Angeles Times article: “Coffee, tea, or a dab of perfume?”
According to the article, perfumers have now turned to the subtle, fruity, grassy, and smoky notes of such tea classics as Lapsang Souchong and Earl Grey to set themselves apart in the highly competitive world of perfumes. In fact, it appears that the application of tea to perfumes has been around for awhile. An example of a high-end entry into this niche market is Hermes’ Osmanthe Yunnan. On Hermes’ website, the perfume’s creator, Jean-Claude Ellena, recounts:
“During a visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing, I was captivated by an exquisite smell that led me by the tip of my nose to the Imperial Palace, where osmanthus bushes were in bloom. In November, despite their tiny size, the flowers exuded a strong scent of apricot and freesia. I imagined combining these blossoms with a tea from Yunnan, the most beautiful province in China… and the idea for the fragrance was born.”
Not surprisingly, customers are attracted to perfumes infused with tea for their “lighter, fresher” scents, whereas those attracted to perfumes doused with coffee appreciate a more “pronounced scent … something bold.”
Even herbals have entered the mix, with perfumes featuring yerba maté and chamomile, often paired with exotic herbs and spices. At Los Angeles’ Institute for Art and Olfaction, which hosts perfume-making workshops, participants often request black, green, oolong, and other teas as ingredients for their custom scents.
So next time you find yourself out of your favorite perfume or cologne, why not turn to your favorite tea instead?
Photo courtesy of the author.