Brewing a Golden Cloud of Tea

Today is threatening to reach  about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have been wondering what I have that is worth putting on in such heat. It’s hard to say.  Perhaps this is the day for a tea note and accordingly I have found Carthusia’s Mediterraneo.  It is reminding me of iced tea mixes from my childhood – fundamentally, we’re talking Nestea here.  It’s not bad, but it is unexciting.

This perhaps encapsulates the tea note quandary. Not all tea is created equal. Some tea, even now, would be better off steeping in Boston Harbor.

I suspect the whole tea in perfume mania began with Jean Claude Ellena’s  Bulgari Pour Femme.  Tea was in the head note and tea was in the heart, and it became an unexpected hit.  The likely reason for the hit status was that Ellena’s inspiration for the tea came from no less a tea store than Mariage Freres a very high end tea shop in Paris.

Now Guts and I know about Mariage Freres for the much more mundane reason that we happen to like their tea and from time to time score a canister on sale.  In this way we’ve gotten fond of their Darjeeling and their Christmas teas and their Marco Polo, all of them lovely to drink and very nearly as lovely to smell. You cannot go wrong with the scent of their teas, so it is not surprising that a perfumer such as M. Ellena looking for inspiration in mid-career should have hit upon the idea of incorporating the scent in perfumes.

Of course, that’s just the point about great ideas – they’re obvious in retrospect, they are never so obvious before that.

And talent, such as M. Ellena has lies in not only having those ideas but in having the presence of mind to use them, and the persistence to work out their inevitable bugs.

I remember when Eau Parfumée au Thé vert came out.  It was being sprayed so heavily inside the cosmetics hall of Bergdorf’s that the scent was billowing out onto 59th street.  I think it was Fall at the time and the original Eau Parfumee had considerable lift so that you could feel a kind of golden perfumed precipitation falling around you in micro-droplets.  People were pausing and stopping in mid stride just to smell, and it takes a lot to do that at 5:30 pm in Manhattan.

It was, I’ve got to say, one of the most glamorous perfume moments I’ve ever lived through and oddly, this uniquely Madison Avenue incident was quite coincidental. Nobody had story boarded it. Nobody had filmed it. It was just what happened that evening on 59th and 5th.

If I were Jean Claude Ellena, I’d consider my career a success just because I once  created that kind of olfactory magic in mid-town Manhattan.


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