I am in a completely jasmine mood at present.
Just the life force of it.
So on this beautiful hot sunny day with a delicious breeze, a set of unexpected perfumes from Hong Hong by new niche brand One Day, arriving in the mail including a perfect jasmine tea, could not have been more welcome.
There has been a series of Asiatic-themed perfumes I have reviewed on here recently, Le Jardin R’s Mousse Arashiyama, Meo Fusciuni’s dark and damp, Laotian- inspired Encore Du Temps, and the unusual green tea mint eucalyptus release by Art De Parfum, Kimono Vert. All have merits, but it is interesting to compare these Euro-hybrids with more authentic smelling tea perfumes from Hong Kong, where Chinese teas are a part of daily life at dim sum restaurants and the like, and there is perhaps, I would imagine, a higher degree of verisimilitude needed to outfox the tea connoisseur doubters.
Local tea masters, presented with the olfactory mirages of their work, will probably be pretty accepting of this collection.
Jasmine Tea is especially lovely. Although usually I am not a fan of clary sage as a note, here it is used very cleverly with an extract of Tieguayin tea; the tannic tang of the tea essence married deliciously with the abundant sambac jasmine and a delicate vetiver musk. Less soapy and peculiarly indolic than L’Artisan Parfumeur’s (not dissimilar) Tea For A Summer; less hardcore, overbrewed oolong than Kilian’s comparable Imperial Tea (which I adore), this is a lighter, more harmonious iteration that I am going to wear when I go out to Sakuragicho later today.
Osmanthus Tea ( more romantic ) is similarly well-blended, with a gentle, poetic ease: a full osmanthus flower – very realistic – with some jasmine, oolong tea leaves and vetiver; far more in tune with itself and softly seamless than the Hermes’ Osmanthe Yunnan, for instance, which for me always had a sharp, apricot/orange twist that was momentarily uncomfortable in its too overtly watercoloured base. This osmanthus is dreamier and full; but light at the same time. I took the sample bottles round to a Japanese friend’s house round the corner from ours immediately after they arrived this morning, and both the jasmine and osmanthus smelled quite beautiful on her – serenely sensual; my skin bringing more of a sobriety.
Moving on from the floral, the more masculine, or at least androgynous, teas in this collection include Pu’er, a much woodier proposition than the Jasmine or the osmanthus : (cedarwood, cypress, patchouli, incense and vetiver blended with pu’er tea leaves):
” Brew and pour the aged water anti-clockwise, breathe the moment, reverse time. Remember when the tea was new, when we still wrote letters, when it tasted fresh, bitter, and left a sweet aftertaste”
-which I will need to try later at more leisure, possibly on D, to discover its rootier depths; initial impressions are warm, aromatic, if less overtly tea-like ; while
Oolong tea is quite the opposite: a much bolder, more symphonically experimental proposition that smells of very rich oolong tea: wheaty; piquant with smokier undertones (vetiver, tonka bean, similar perhaps in texture to Mona Di Orio’s Bohea Boheme but less medicinal) all layered on a richer, jasmine honeyed heart and a bright bergamot (and again, clary sage effusion), the whole making you slightly pucker and wince while being simultaneously seduced. Though definitely the oddest, Oolong Tea is in some ways the most erotic of the four tea scents presented here, as
the ‘clear bitter brown twists an aftertaste in your mouth….. ; between the trees, scent of tea and beans waves in from the quiet Japanese courtyard in a tranquil Taipei alley. The sun beams through the papered window; under the aged wood, the flow of hot water brews dried tea leaf into astringency”.
As a relevant aside, we have only ever been to Hong Kong once: a quarter of a century ago or so, when it was probably a completely different place.
I remember being dazzled by the lights at night from Victoria Peak as we sat drinking sparkling wine in a park garden ; the utter deliciousness of Peking Duck in a traditional restaurant packed to the rafters: gawping at all the locals and all the noise at the amazing banquets from those lovely round revolving tables. The Chungking Express apartments, in Kowloon. But I don’t think we ever went to a Chinese tea house in the short time that we were there.
A situation that one day might have to be rectified.
In Hong Kong.
Many moons ago