Category Archives: Tea








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.


Filed under Flowers, Tea















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




















Although I don’t wear them very often, I am quite fond of tea-based fragrances and have several in my collection: Bulgari’s Eau Parfumée Au Thé Vert in both eau de toilette and Extrême, L’Occitane’s innocuous Thé Vert in parfum solide (good for dabbing on sultry August work days); Roger & Gallet’s refreshing, summery Thé Vert, and a small bottle of the delightful Imperial Tea by Kilian – to me, one of the best tea perfumes you can buy.





Tea perfumes have a gentle, neutralizing effect on the senses. An ease of spirit, if not quite of passion, they have a delicate, androgynous, appeal: distancing, aloof: a sly and beguiling ‘gentrification’, almost, of the spirit.





And only the gentry of Tokyo will be able to afford, surely, Creed’s latest release from their ‘Acqua Original’ series, Asian Green Tea, due to debut here in Japan next month (it is already available elsewhere), a perfume I smelled with curiosity yesterday at Ginza’s swankily luxuriant Hankyu Men’s Department Store, as the arch, fashionable, and brand-obsessed metrosexual population milled about the crowded store with the usual dismissive swishes of hair and chin this bustling national holiday weekend.




What I can’t entirely understand with this new perfume is the price: 42,000 yen (on the way to 400 dollars: it sounds cheaper in sterling) for 100ml. Creed was surely already upping the ante price-wise with its recent, extravagantly price-tagged ‘Royal Exclusives’ line (which I must admit did include the subtle and delicious Vanille Sublime, a perfume I would very much like to have in my possession if I could afford the eye-popping seven hundred dollar price tag for a beautiful, 250ml flacon of the stuff). This new fragrance is even more expensive per ml, though – an outrage almost – and, to be honest, I can’t really find any objective justification for the price hike beyond greed.





It is quite nice. A green tea variant on the plum-themed Acqua Fiorentina ( I find them quite similar), Asian Green Tea features the usual Creedian, steely metallic ambergris, the familiarly silvery florals (rose, violet, heliotrope), as well as a sheer and refreshing top accord of bergamot, mandarin, lemon and neroli. The green tea note is prominent, sensual (combined in the base of the perfume with a lick of sandalwood and musk), and the whole is pleasing, fruité, if not quite stunning – although I can easily imagine the person this matches – someone clean, perfectly groomed and self-assured – smelling quite magnetic and stylish in its firm and delicate embrace.






The name, though. So generic: so obviously led by market research and hopes of expansion into the ‘luxury Asian markets’ of Japan, China and elsewhere: so pinpointed to the Stilettoed, Moneyed Doyennes Of The Eastern Capitals, their Gucci pant suits, their gleaming white smartphones.




‘Asian Green Tea’ is a name that is just too bland and race-specific for my own tastes (what do you think of it? And what could be up next in the line: ‘Caucasian Sausage Platter?’ ‘Pan-African Coconut’?). For me, there is no beauty in that name. The scent, also, though enjoyably translucently floral and well blended, somehow doesn’t quite get there either. It is OK. But for that amount of money, I’m afraid, I need poetry.




Filed under Tea