Japan has a deep love of green tea.
While it might be as coffee and cake obsessed as any other nation – there are western style cafes wherever you look – and loves its Earl Grey and Darjeeling and ‘Royal Milk Tea’ (usually Ceylon and Assam boiled with hot milk), ‘O-Cha’ drunk for centuries, is at the very pinnacle.
The most popular drink from the ubiquitous vending machines is definitely cold green tea; my colleagues drink bottles and bottles of it. Matcha ice cream is as popular as vanilla; you can buy green tea cakes, sweets, chocolate, lattes; grades of the tea leaves ranked and filed according to quality and prefecture; catechin content; strength, cholesterol reduction, competing brands honing their products to tailor-fit the notoriously picky Japanese consumer.
One of the nicest experiences you can have in Kamakura is to go to Kokedera, or The Bamboo Temple, on a rainy week day afternoon and sit at the tea shop down by the cave through the grove of rustling, towering bamboo, beside a waterfall, stirring your frothed, bitter matcha tea in a bowl and listening to the water and the green in the trees. Yesterday, suffering from Friday fatigue, but needing to pay the rent, I went round to my neighbour and landlord and Japanese mother’s house; humid and raining, quiet except for the sultry but balmy cool breeze.
She was alone, Mr Mitomi now retired in his eighties, gone to pay his respects at an ancestor’s grave. Mrs Mitomi herself looked well, better than she has recently, though I was quite shocked to hear that she had been hospitalized for two weeks for a gall bladder operation that we had known nothing about (these days, clad in our masks, all busy and interiorized, rushing around not quite hearing or noticing things properly you sometimes don’t see the wood for the trees…..)
She asked me in and whether I would like green tea or coffee; Over caffeinated already I felt more like cha, which was there in the pot, boiling water at the ready to add to the tea leaves to drink very hot – probably not orthodox in some green tea establishments, but how we both personally like to drink it.
It was a very pleasant and funny half an hour there before I had to head off for work; occasional comfortable silences as we reminisced ( I have known her for almost a quarter of a century now), the taste of the green tea clear and fresh; purifying- both relaxing and energizing at the same time.
I think I feel similarly about green tea in fragrances : they are somehow ‘off the grid’; quiet and elegant; removed from the vulgarity, and this time of year as the temperatures rise they strike me as perfect as a contrast to the humidity : a coolness.
I remember Olivia Giacobbetti’s green tea for L’Artisan Parfumeur, inspired obviously by the classic Bulgari but with a more prominent jasmine facet, being more luscious and citrus. This current version I own is somewhat flatter; more soapy, lackadaisically indolic. Curiously, I have found that by layering it with Roger & Gallet’s take on green tea ( very sharp, bright, fizzing yuzu, ginger, ceding to a lovely clean and lingering green tea note ) which gives me odour confidence on the hottest of days the two compliment each other very nicely, filling in for each other’s mutual deficits. I might wear this combination to work next week, even tweak it perhaps with some Hyouge ( formerly known as Oribe), a perfume that smells of freshly cut grass and newly whisked matcha bubbles – a very unusual scent that takes you out of yourself.
It was strange in a way that I was drinking green tea in the afternoon with Mrs Mitomi, as I don’t really have it so often: a bottle of Tea Tonique by Miller Harris had also arrived in the post in the morning. Earmarking this as a possible perfume for Duncan, though I was quite taken with it myself – the clever thwarting of a gloriously fresh green floral Earl Grey/ Mate tea accord with a rash note of nutmeg and birch tar citrus at the core of the scent creates stark and beautiful contrasts within itself – On me it is a little smoky, refined but still fresh ; on D it smells nothing short of truly SPLENDID -floral, very tea – like; a delicate revelation.
16 responses to “GREEN TEA IN THE AFTERNOON : THE POUR UN ETE by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (1995) + HYOUGE by PARFUMS SATORI (2008) + TEA TONIQUE by MILLER HARRIS (2016)”
Tea Tonique was one of my favorites when I visited the Miller Harris boutique in Covent Garden, although I didn’t end up buying anything there.
I wonder how they get a realistic matcha note in perfumes?
I have wondered that too. Isn’t there supposed to be a tea absolute? I sniffed this once and just thought ‘pleasant enough’ but actually trying it on skin, with the contrasting prim almost rose like notes with the raspier tea it is very pleasant. Nothing earth shattering but it smells extremely elegant on D and he will definitely wear it.
Black tea and green tea extracts, yes – wasn’t sure about matcha. Some days elegant is better than earth shattering, no?
Absolutely. And usually preferable, to be honest. I think the niche world could consider that point more often. Don’t give me bizarre and edgy for the sake of it give me ‘very pleasant smelling ‘
Tea notes are my favorite, but most that I encounter, at least within indie perfumery, very off… lemony and sharp even, regardless of what kind. I just started a Milk Oolong tincture and a Yerba Maté tincture today. We’ll see!!
Hyouge/Oribe has my whole heart, so calming. been nursing a Luckyscent 1ml sample for over a year.. how enchanting it would be to visit her atelier someday🖤 Tea Tonique sounds really thrilling!!
Hyouge is more thrilling for sure (isn’t it brilliantly green, like a lawn in May?) but also a lot weirder. Tea Monique works nicely in polite society; beautifully androgynous and and interesting combination of understated and idiosyncratic.
“One of the nicest experiences you can have in Kamakura is to go to Kokedera, or The Bamboo Temple, on a rainy week day afternoon and sit at the tea shop down by the cave through the grove of rustling, towering bamboo, beside a waterfall, stirring your frothed, bitter matcha tea in a bowl and listening to the water and the green in the trees.”
I was thinking how far away you were from Solihull.
I am indeed. But I feel like I still know every leaf on every tree there, so it is engraved permanently in my system. There definitely isn’t any bamboo.
Solihull is apparently still very desirable as a place to live .A lot of my friends and relatives are all there. It was perfect for up until after eighteen, but no way after that! I would have zero stimulation.
Now I’m an ancient retiree and life-long Anglophile, I think Solihull sounds like a perfectly loverly place to live out the golden years. Glad your mum and dad are in such a good place.
But I can see how you really couldn’t stay there. It would, quietly and politely, have destroyed you.
Not so politely ; death by politesse is Japan – Solihull is much rougher !
I have wanted to love tea notes for the longest time; the only one I can stand is Tea for Two by L’Artisan, more dark and rich.
I purchased a huge bottle of the famous Bulgari tea scent, when it was released, and it immediately gave me a severe migraine and vomiting. Needless to say I returned it and haven’t tried too many since.
The Guerlain Cherry Blossom scent has a tea note, but it is not too overpowering.
I mean I can actually completely understand this reaction to tea scents. Annick Goutal’s Duel smells like mouldy tea and flatulence to me : it’s quite a weird ingredient, unlike anything else and can be off putting. I got very tired of smelling the Bulgari when it first came out – there is something smug and mindlessly middle class about it – but then I got a bottle and started to like it. Vintage Tea For Two is amazing, but even so I find that neither of us ever reach for it.
I think I wear tea scents sometimes, oddly, because they are NOT me. It’s like pretending to be somebody else ( I would only ever wear them in a work scenario…)
I totally understand that, the whole pretending to be somebody else. I feel that way when I wear Trésor, 90’s version not the vintage one. I feel as if I am channeling a middle class woman of a certain type. Not really a me scent.
Me too !
With the ‘wrong gender ‘ to boot.
Tresor is hilarious. I have the body creme