If I have criteria when judging a new perfume, they are probably these:



a) does it smell good? does it smell beautiful ? (as highly subjective as talking about music)

b) is it well-made, with solid materials? (more objectively verifiable I would say)

c) does it say something? does it evoke something? is it original, unusual, idiosyncratic?










This perfume by Mona Di Orio (the second posthumous release by current in-house perfumer Jeroen Oude Sogtoen) does for me basically fulfill the above objectives; a shadowy, umbral, and emotional smoked tea fragrance based on the scent of bohea tea from the Wuyi mountains in China that takes me to another place.


There is something very melancholic, even elegiac (post-colonial guilt?) about this scent. I think it is perhaps it is the note of poplar buds – a very distinctive, medicinal smell that I and my father love to experience in Autumn: a peculiar, spiced, aromatic note that takes this blend beyond the usual confines of the niche mossed boisé.


Familiar, woody accords anchor the delicately pine-fumed tea leaves (oak, boxwood, juniper, sandalwood), while a greener, evocative accord of iris root, bergamot and chamomile then smother the cold mountain earth below with warmth; a smooth, radiating osmanthus and beeswax note at the centre of the scent that hugs the blend together with a distant,  understated soulfulness.









Bohea Boheme is a perfume that would smell great on my brother. Greg, as sensitive a person as you are likely to meet, loves anything related to tea and tobacco leaves, bonfires, early twentieth century British, and though this scent doesn’t have much projection (part of its appeal), I am quite sure that it would hover about his person, should he choose to wear it as he goes about his London days, in a nostalgic, but unplaceable, aura of bygone elegance and longing.






























John Ovington's Tea Essay, 1699





























Filed under Tea

20 responses to “THE YEARNING : : : : BOHEA BOHEME by MONA DI ORIO (2016):

  1. Perhaps I overstate the merits of this perfume here (these are my first psychological impressions). I can’t wear this kind of smoky green scent myself, and on closer inspection you see the familiar tropes of niche perfumery (it is quite similar to perfumes I have smelled by Parfums D’Empire for example, or Parfumerie Generale). The pepper notes, the mossed, cool centre, it’s all there….But at the same time, there is definitely something very redolent and poetic about the general atmosphere of this perfume.

  2. Katy

    If this house’s offerings were not so ridiculously out of my price range I would blind buy this now! I like the whole line and was a gifted a set of samples from another perfume lover. I found them all really lovely and very understated but that is somehow appropriate for their somber beauty.

    • Yes, I think they are definitely very unusual and curious (if sometimes downright unwearable for me personally). I find them almost WILFULLY difficult, but then a part of me also likes this intransigence – they are steadfastly NOT high street, dumb or trashy but a million miles in the other, unapproachable, direction. Which ones do you know and like? I’m curious. This one is quite atmospheric actually.

  3. Katy

    I know I tried Ambre, Vanille and Violette Fumee. I thought they were interestingly named because they were not immediately an amber, vanilla or violet centric perfume. It took them a while to unfold and they do tell a strangely mesmerizing story that does not take the path you expect it to.

  4. Nancysg

    The line can certainly be challenging, but that may be part of its appeal. I own several and have the Bohea Boheme on my list to purchase. It is dark and smoky, but simultaneously bright.

  5. This perfume was one of my “best” picks for 2016. It does have a meloncholial (is that a word?) about it that I really loved. Very different and rather haunting. Love it. And I’m sure it would wear well on such a sensitive fellow as you!

  6. Drop-dead photos — the girl; the box; the bust! — and dear ones of you and your brother. (Handsome guys.) The shot of the hand-rolled tea leaves.

    Sensible criteria. You always describe a scent (if you like it) in a way that creates an instant lemming, dammit.

    I only have tried the original, red-box line of Mona’s released a few years ago. a) Check. b) Check. c) Check. I remember thinking that the Vetyver was one of the most challenging and yet still wearable vetivers I’d encountered. It was so “compositional” that I can recall the scent in full detail now. I was impressed by the quality of ingredients and the concentration and performance of all of them except the Musc, which I am somewhat anosmic to, so no real judge.

    Would you know roughly the era of that first photograph? Funny, this morning I had one of my new incense sticks going, and gazing at her accompanied by the scent allowed me to appreciate the notes, the atmosphere, in a way I couldn’t in my usual straight-up All-Canadian context.

    • I was worried it was a bit ‘Orientalist’ but then didn’t really care if it was or not as I liked the picture: I think nineteenth century.

      It’s interesting you should mention the vetiver one because going to their website that was the one that intrigued me the most. In truth, I am more of a fan intellectually than soulfully. I liked Vanille, and the oudh is actually really beautiful, but the tuberose I find utterly insufferable. This one I have realized is too ‘niche wood’ ultimately, so there is no way I would wear it – in the same way that I would rather kill myself than wear Tauer’s ‘l’air du desert marocain’ (which, incidentally, was a big hit with my brother who gets a lot of compliments on it): I honestly would become psychically deranged with a wood scent on as though I were being nailed in my coffin or that all my moisture were being sucked up by livid termites. Locked in my mahogany case. Bohea Boheme avoids all that desiccation, but in the base (at least on tissue) there is a strong wood note. But at the same time, the black Chinese tea, woven with the strange note of the poplar buds, did really touch me emotionally as being lovingly made and conceived.

      Recently, Olivia has got Greg wearing all kinds of florals – he will rock up to work (he is a sound technician and vintage speaker maker) drenched in Tubereuse Criminelle and A La Nuit – his skin is quite different to mine; more freckled and ‘white’, almost more papery, and things smell very different on him. I am very slightly darker and have more drenched, lurid skin that makes perfumes glow, destroys the top notes and brings out the base – hence Chanel No 19 being essentially a vetiver leather iris verging on macho on me personally – on him it would be all green and galbanum – I think that’s why the Tauer really worked. It smelled as it was supposed to – like dry desert air.

      ‘Compositional’: you nail the Mona Di Orio perfumes exactly. That is both a compliment and a demerit for me though. Ultimately I prefer something more sensual and instinctive.

      • Niche wood. I know what you mean. Livid termites.

        Working — spelling-off the owner, really — at a niche perfume shop in Vancouver, I had the chance to live in those MdOs for awhile. The vanilla was good. The tuberose was insufferable, yup, perfect word. Telling: I never wound up buying a bottle of any of them.

        I like your description of the different ways your and Greg’s skin wear a scent. I love that fragrance can morph like that — or rather, that skin can bring out or subdue various notes. I’ve often wished I could wear really heavy, pungent scents, just for variety, but my skin doesn’t seem to do them any favours. It’s medium-pale (Irish-English-German) and seems to play well with chypres, green florals and aldehydic florals. I worship vintage
        No 19, especially the parfum. I like wearing the EdT and parfum together for maximum effect, because of the added throw of the former. I was lucky to score a 4oz bottle from some warehouse in Tijuana; the owners had died years before, the stock had never really moved much in their time, and the son inherited the works and just wanted to purge the lot on eBay. Lots of good stuff for relatively small coin. Wish there was an unlimited supply!

  7. Zsounds like a rather interesting scent, although “tea” scents never work well on me. The images are just so perfect for this review, especially the ones of you and your brother; he does look like a gentle soul. I wish I were more familiar with this line, especially when it is very highly regarded by fragrance lovers. I will have to find a stockist and try some of the scents, including this one, to have an appreciation for them.

    • I think that just for perfume knowledge’s sake it would be great if you could, but at the same time, I can’t see you entirely going for them. They are always willfully weird and ‘difficult’. Unexpected and original, certainly (and thus strangely exciting to encounter), but not easily lovable.

  8. Thanks for the great review. Love your mix of pics too! R

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s