Brewing a Scent

By Jo Phillips

When we sit down for a nice ‘cuppa’, breathe the aroma, swallow the elixir that is our hot tea beverage do stop for a moment and think or even realise just how far that cuppa has travelled to get to us?  Not so much the actual leaves that have been stepped come from, say China or India, but how many centuries it took for this most loved of beverages to arrive at our shores.  A worldly liquid intertwined with global trade, alongside another product we may not realise has travelled for centuries; perfume. Both tea and perfume have ancient histories and similarities.


Just as with taking tea for granted, when you spritz that favourite summertime scent or coat yourself before an evening out with a heady perfume do you know how you come to have this so close to hand? Perfumes, it is believed, originated in the Middle East, whereas the journey of tea started in China. Many ancient cultures have a history of scent as well as a history of tea drinking. Both tea and perfume ingredients are available readily because of ‘trade routes’.

Shot 1: Assam red tin tea brew tea co, from India, loose-leaf Assam tea, punchy, rich, nutty and malty. Jaguar classic black, 100ml, an elegant, classic style, with a headnote of mandarin orange, green apple and bitter orange with a heart note of cardamom, black tea, nutmeg and geranium as well as a fresh marine accord. The base note is sandalwood and cedar, vetiver and musk. Karl Lagerfeld Fleur de Thé is a luminous fragrance defined by floral freshness and green tea notes together with Citruses Jasmine Sambac and Camellia. Escentric O3 Escentric molecules, 50ml, ginger dominates the top note, which is vibrant, green and spicy with lime peel and green peppercorn. The heart is rich, velvety orris with Egyptian jasmine and tea notes. The dry-down emphasises the dark green woodiness of vetiver together with sandalwood, cedar, mellow balsams and musk. The Tea Pot for Two 800ml, our faff-free two-person teapot for loose leaf tea. In Assam red. It’s easy to use. Easy to clean. And gives your leaves loads of room to move. No strainer needed.

The trade routes were a network of routes connecting the East and West, from the 2nd century BCE to the 18th century CE. It was central to the economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between many regions.

The eight key trade routes throughout ancient history included primarily the moving of silk from China ( the silk route) but also included the movement of spices and amber, tea, incense, salt all the way to gold and gunpowder.

Both the crafts of tea and perfume are deeply ingrained in ancient civilizations and yet are still very much part of our modern world.  Both tea and scent have distinct cultural meanings and uses depending on where in the world you are. Tea, a massive ritual in Japan, the Tea Ceremony represents harmony, respect, purity, and tranquillity very much the manners associated with Japanese society.  Yet perfume wearing, in Japan, is very much driven by the idea of not ‘invading’ someone else’s ‘space’, therefore the perfumes most worn in Japan are those that are ‘skin like’ or ‘water like’, not say large floral, oud, scents that would ‘invade’ someone else personal field.

Shot 2: Jo Malone Basil & Neroli Cologne 100 ml, flirt with oh-so floral neroli and a delicious wink of basil. Ingredients: Alcohol Denat., Water\Aqua\Eau, Fragrance (Parfum), Linalool, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate. Ole Henriksen Truth Juice Daily Cleanser 150ml, this everyday vegan cleanser, made with orange fruit water & PHA, removes dirt, oil and long-wear eye makeup and reveals refreshed, energized skin in just one step. Assam red tin tea Brew Tea co as before Maison Margiela Matcha Meditation (exclusive to selfridges) 100ml, Made in France. Top notes: bergamot essence, mandarin essence and green tea. Heart notes: matcha accord, orange flower Absolute and Jasmine Accord. Base notes: Moss Accord, White chocolate accord and cedar essence. Ellis Brooklyn SciFi 50ml, this sexy yet intelligent scent blends vanilla beans with citrus, florals and the unexpected jolt of green tea in an addictive combination that will have you smelling your wrist all day. V&R Flowerbomb Dew 100ml, embrace a new floral lightness with Flowerbomb Dew Eau De Parfum, the floriental fragrance for her by Viktor & Rolf. Flowerbomb Dew encapsulates a new vision of Flowerbomb fragrances: one that is soft, delicate, and feminine. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum 50ml, this potent vitamin c collagen serum helps brighten and firm the skin as it delivers all-day hydration. With orange and green tea extracts, this fast-absorbing, oil-free formula revives the complexion. Green Product (Set) Ole Henriksen Balance It All: Cleanse 60ml, Tone 65ml, Moisturize 15ml. This complete oil control regimen mattifies and reduces the appearance of pores in one effortless routine that leaves skin feeling comfortable, never stripped. Maison Margiela Under the Lemon Tree 100ml, a combination of invigorating citruses complemented by the earthy freshness of green tea extract, coriander and woody extracts from both cedarwood and white musks.

They both have shared ritualistic characteristics. For example, the ritual of tea-making;  first it must be steeped to release its taste and scent.  Just in many ways, ingredients in a perfume must be ‘released’ from their natural form.

Also, interestingly from early days, ingredients we often think of as scented perfume facets were infused into teas; think of black teas with rose. Rose teas are achieved by layering rose petals amongst black tea. The rose perforates the tea leaves to create a distinct flavour and aroma.

In perfumery, there was a similar process called enfleurage, where petals were placed between layers of animal fat, which became saturated with the oil and then alcohol was used to distil the rose absolute perfume oil from the fat.

Fascinatingly, jasmine, rose, orange blossom and other perfumed notes have been used in teas for centuries but the reverse, tea as a facet in perfume, is relatively new. It was not until the late ‘90’s that a fragrance was created with a tea note.

The first perfumed tea scent was created not for the general market but for gifts to customers by Bulgari ( it was their first-ever scent) for the Rome store.  It was created by master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, who had the idea to create a tea-inspired perfume for quite some time. And so was born , Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert.

He was galvanized into utilising tea as a fragrance note by the famous Paris Tea shop Mariage Frères, a magnificent taste and olfactory experience.  Not looking to exactly represent the scent of tea but much more the essence of it. An abstract version if you please, more with notes as the name suggests of green tea where he utilised both Hedione (a jasmine style facet) and Ionone (a violet facet) for a freshness. And we know, timing is everything

The new fragrance hit the trend perfectly because the ’90s saw a new style of scent, a very popular one, for fresh, light, unisex perfumery. Refreshing light tea notes hit the mark, and so began the love affair.

Shot 3: Vahdam Tea 100% Pure Himalayan Gold Black Tea 100g, improved Focus, helps in improving gut health, helps to boost heart health. 200 ml at 90-100ºC, steep 3-5 mins and you can accompany it with honey, sugar or milk. Le Labo The Matcha 26 100ml, matcha tea accord is infused with a creamy fig note, grounded by soft vetiver and textural cedar woods and uplifted by enticing bitter orange. Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au thé vert 75ml, a fresh luxury Eau de Cologne for men and women that pays homage to Japanese Green Tea.With a bright and exclusive accord, this fragrance is a vital expression of refined elegance that awakens and refreshes the senses. 4160 Tuesdays Parfums 50 ml, A collection of adventurous perfumes, all created and handmade in West London by people who love what they do. A Walk In The Forest, a fragrance that smells just like a wander around an autumn forest and London Hammersmith Tea and Biscuits, with lemon, orange, bergamot and mandora essential oils give make a citrus biscuit scent – a hint of Jaffa Cake – and bran absolute takes us into the region of the classic digestive. Ethyl vanillin brings to mind the Custard Cream and the toffee molecule homofuraneol evokes the Tunnock’s Caramel.

Since then tea and perfumery have gone hand in hand with scents being ‘brewed’ with Jasmine tea, black tea, green tea even Rooibos tea.

Tea, like perfumery, has almost mythical status, tea was originally drunk in China by Monks and scent was considered something to be burnt to connect with the gods during pray. In different cultures, tea has different customs, traditions and meanings as does the whole idea of using fragrance. Thankfully both tea and perfume are varied enough that there is something for each and every one of us to enjoy whatever our traditions and tastes.

Shot 4: Murdock London Black Tea British Cologne 100ml, Black Tea is an elegant traveller. Spicy, woody, an intriguing mix of wanderlust and timeless style. An evocative, masculine blend of spices, leather and tobacco inspired by Britain’s historic spice and tea routes. Top notes of clove, nutmeg, basil and pepper blend with middle notes of leather and base notes of musty woods, musk and birch tar. A spritz of Black Tea will take you from suave daytime style to wherever the evening leads. Guerlain Paris Neroli Outrenoir 200ml, Neroli, an explosive white gleam, alongside Outrenoir, its exact opposite. Like a flash in the shadows, bathed in the light of bergamot and petitgrain, neroli essence confronts the darkest, most enigmatic notes of smoked tea. Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask 100 ml, an ultra-hydrating face mask famous for its cloud-like whipped texture that leaves skin nourished, smooth, and dewy long after you rinse it off. Boosts elasticity, cools, hydrates, smoothes, softens, tones. Fresh Black Tea Firming Corset Cream 50ml, A visibly firming face and neck cream that hydrates and strengthens the skin for a tighter, lifted look with more defined contours. Antioxidant protection boosts elasticity, bounce, defines, firms, moisturizes. Fresh Black Tea Age Delay Body Cream 200ml, a smoothing and firming body moisturizer powered by fresh’s black tea complex and its powerful antioxidant benefits. Antioxidant protection, bounce, moisturizes, firms, smoothes, comforts. Fresh Black Tea Firming Corset Serum 50ml, a concentrated blend proven to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while providing a firmer, luminous look. The fast-absorbing moisturising treatment has a corset-like effect on the skin, giving the appearance of a more defined, contoured complexion. Vahdam Tea 100% Pure Himalayan Gold Black Tea 100g

Shot 5: White Cloud Coffee, collection of Black Cloud Coffee, Black Cloud Coffee Oolong, Black Cloud Coffee Jasmine Master’s Garden 5g and Cloud Coffee Oolong Stone Flower 40 g. Nest New York Apricot Tea Scented Candle 600g, this exquisitely fragranced 3-Wick Candle elevates everyday living and entertaining. English apricot wrapped in the richness of black tea leaves, bergamot, and warm golden amber. Milk Jug Penhaligon’s Scented Candle 200g, here, the lush hellscapes are verdant with succulent tea plants. Tea notes with light and dark facets for a sensation of both intimacy and space.​ Freshen one’s abode with this scented candle prized with dazzling lemon and delicate charm.​ Nest New York Apricot Tea Reed Diffuser 175ml, create a relaxing moment with this Reed Diffuser featuring the silky smooth essence of English apricot wrapped in the richness of black tea leaves, bergamot, and warm golden amber.

Shot 6: Les Senteurs Ex Idolo: Thirty three 30 ml, Top: black pepper, mandarin, caoutchouc, Heart: white tea, rose, Taif rose, iris, metallic notes, Base: Oud, patchouli, heliotrope. An exquisite oud fragrance is hand-blended in Marylebone, London. Chinotto di Liguria; Acqua di Parma Blue Mediterranean 75 ml, a refreshing unisex fragrance characterised by lively and vibrant top notes of chinotto and mandarin, reflecting a unique universe of contrasts. At its heart, rosemary and cardamom lend an aromatic touch while the base of this eau de toilette is rounded off with jasmine and musk. Blue tea The Merchant of Venice 100 ml, the fragrance revolves around a poetic accord of blue tea and a floral bouquet of rose, magnolia and neroli. The heart blooms on contact with these various facets; suave, fresh and sometimes slightly fruity. Base notes of textured vetiver are rounded by musks that support the rural and stimulating touch of green. Top notes: blue tea leaves and nutmeg. Middle notes: rose and magnolia. Base notes: Vetiver and Musk. Aesop B & Tea balancing toner 200ml, a gentle, alcohol-free blend enhanced with provitamin B5 and fortifying anti-oxidants. Refines pores, balances and prepares skin for hydration. Sodium Gluconate, Panthenol and Green Tea. Vahdam Teas 100% pure Himalayan green tea 100g, helps in weight management, is rich in anti-oxidants, improves cognitive function. 7oz/200ml water, steep 3-5 mins and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Shot 7: Denny Chevron Tea Pot and Milk Jug, Designed and modelled by Gill Pemberton, the proportion and balance of every piece were critical to its concept and usability. Working closely with Hedley Parkin, Jim Seal and Albert Blancheon, Denby Chevron hit the shelves in 1962 and was produced until 1980. Elemis Superfood Day Cream 50ml, a vitamin-rich moisturiser packed with superfoods and matcha tea to replenish skin with vital hydrating nourishment for an outdoor-fresh glow. Elemis Superfood Matcha eye dew 15ml, a cooling gel that immediately quenches and hydrates the eye area throughout the day, for a brighter, refreshed appearance wherever and whenever. Matcha, honeydew melon, kiwi and theobroma cocoa seed extract. 34 boulevard saint Eau Duelle Diptyque Eau de Parfum 75ml, travelling through time and over borders, bourbon vanilla from Madagascar reveals itself between darkness and light. Armani Prive The Yulong 100ml, this unisex fragrance absorbs all facets and contrasts of tea as black and green tea are brought into subtle contact. The combination results in a smoky, woody, yet fresh and citrusy fragrance. Elemis Superfood Kefir Tea Mist 100ml, a refreshing 4-in-1 mist hydrates, tones, primes, and sets makeup for a complexion that looks healthy and glowing all day. Miller Harris Tea Tonique, inspired by a trip to a tea plantation: early morning mist rolling over rows of neatly planted shrubs, bringing with it a sparkling and refreshing zest from the crisp leaves. Bergamot, lemon, petitgrain, green tea, earl grey tea, mate tea, nutmeg, birch tar and musk.Vahdam Teas 100% pure Himalayan green tea 100g

Shot 8: Creed Silver mountain water Parfum, 100ml, a contemporary unisex scent, Silver Mountain Water perfectly balances crisp & sharp citric notes with warming sweet blackcurrant and charming musk. Storie Veneziane Zafferano 1 Extrait de Parfum, 100 ml, splendour and opulence collide in an extrait de parfum made for men and women with strong, distinguished, often enigmatic personalities. This perfume merges extraordinary, cutting aromas, in striking contrasts: the freshness of pink berries, the depth of a thorned rose, and carnal and robust oud wood. Vahdam Teas blooming rose, 100 cups, an in-house, sprightly mix of flavorful black tea with red rose petals and grounded nuts. 200 ml at 90-100 ºc, steep 3-5 mins and make the perfect cup with milk, sugar, honey or lemon. Sensai essence day veil SPF 30/40ml, a day essence that acts as both UV protection and anti-ageing skincare to maintain radiantly glowing skin throughout the day. Parfum de Marly Paris Meliora 75ml, a delicate cocktail of fruit and flowers that have an enchanting romanticism. Dreamy rose, jasmine tea and ylang-ylang release a clean floralcy that stirs and enchants the mind amidst an opening of fruity berries and lemon essence. The freshness of the blooms found at the heart is further enhanced through a flourish of sweet vanilla, musk and cedarwood essence at the base.

Image Harry Stonehill  @harrystonhill

Shot 9: L’Orcehtra de parfum the Darbouka, the first fragrance band, handmade & sustainable fragrances created in Paris, made in Grasse. No animal testing. The Sahara Desert. Dawn is coloured by the nomadic rhythm of a darbouka an imaginary tea. Elusive, sweet and spicy oud, cocoa, styrax. ESPA clean & green detox mask, vital nutrients omega + essential vitamin complex, a healthy complexion-loving mix of broccoli seed oil, spirulina and extracts of kale and spinach provide a rich blend of vitamins, minerals and omegas, while kaolin helps to detox the skin. With your complexion back on track, your face feels softer and smoother, while looking healthier and brighter. Nishane Extrait de Parfum WŪLÓNG CHÁ, as one of the strongest fresh scents in the market, it opens on citrus notes of bergamot, orange and mandarin that provide sparkling freshness.

Image Harry Stonehill  @harrystonhill

Shot 10: Gris Charnel by bdk Parfums Paris 100 ml, a discreet invitation brings them to the centre of the track. As if they were carried away, they dance in the heat of the night. From this hand-to-hand seduction punctuated by knowing smiles, they end up slipping away to give free flow to more carnal desires. In the early morning, the sheets give off a scent of sleepless nights, mischievous and lascivious embraces. Fig, black tea, cardamom essence, absolute of iris, sandalwood from India and absolute of tonka bean. ESPA Soothing Herbal Tea Infusion, tea caddy with 15 biodegradable tea pyramids to soothe and relax. Rooibos, honeybush, elderberry, liquorice, ashwagandha, lemon peel and rose petal. KAR-WAI by Carine Roitfeld 90 ml, a smoked Longjing tea combined with modern leather. Notes of natural osmanthus conjure an invitation to dangerous, romantic games. Vetiver creates imperceptible fluidity. Bergamot, cardamom, Turkish rose and jasmine. Many musks and a saffiano captive intensify the mystery.

Tea scents: Sarah McCartney 4160 Tuesday says:-

In perfumery, there are natural materials made from different teas, and at 4160Tuesdays, they currently use green tea absolute and CO2 extracts of black tea, green tea and jasmine tea, plus honeybush and redbush. They are clear smells, distinct and refreshing. Green tea absolute is almost solid, deep forest green, and has a hint of 100% cacao chocolate. The newer extracts are made by treating the dried leaves with liquid carbon dioxide to super freeze the natural aroma molecules out of them; if you had your eyes closed, you could believe that someone just opened a new packet of fresh tea right under your nose. The gift of a tea fragrance is the olfactory helpful gesture of “I’ll get the kettle on” for when you can’t be there in person.

The centrepiece is made with a deep green tea absolute, and a lighter natural extract to give both the whiff of a fresh pot and the darkness of the stewed leaves. It was inspired by the green and gold ice cream parlour at Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly. They added the aromas of honey, vanilla, cedarwood and magnolia flowers, on a tempting cloud of musks. Hammersmith Tea & Biscuits is a symbol of friendliness, the offer of comfort in a time of trial, a gesture of peace that transcends differences and unites cultures. London W6 is an inclusive community, so they made Hammersmith Tea & Biscuits celebrate moving their studio here in 2019. Its heart is an extract of black tea with a milky molecule methyl lactone. Lemon, orange, bergamot and mandora essential oils make a citrus biscuit scent – a hint of Jaffa Cake – and bran absolute takes us into the region of the classic digestive. Ethyl vanillin brings to mind the Custard Cream and the toffee molecule homofuraneol evokes the Tunnock’s Caramel.

If you enjoyed reading Brewing a Scent, why not check out A Cup of Tea Farmed Forthright.

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