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.