By Liz Bekesz
An ancient Chinese proverb states “Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.” I agree. Yet while I’ve been a life-long fan of all types of teas (and partial to green), I only recently discovered A Very Novel Collection. This exclusive fragrance collection was created exclusively for Anthropologie by members of Givaudan, and takes tea – black and yellow and blue-green and red, oh my! – as its central theme and inspiration. How refreshing and delightful, indeed!
Stephen Nilsen is behind two of the fragrances, one which celebrates soft femininity through tender white tea; the other which takes black tea as its more dramatic cue. Nilsen took as his inspiration the silver-velvety texture on budding white tea leaves for Silk Road Caravan. White tea is a rare tea of the highest quality, and was appreciated at the court of the Tzars in 17th century Russia. The name of this fresh and feminine fragrance evokes the trade route between China and the Russian empire, a journey which required caravans cover 11,000 miles to transport the precious tea leaves, which took about sixteen months.
Fortunately, you can partake in the exquisite nature of white tea in Nilsens’s creamy, dreamy interpretation, captured through notes like “satin-white roses, tender blushing apricot skin and a sheer veil of powdered orris.” Spring floral notes of muguet, calla lily and peony reinforce the purity and femininity of the white concept while white musks and sheer vanilla impart lasting creaminess and a subtle warmth.
Nilsens’s Five O’ Clock at Belvoir Castle is a nice contrast to Silk Road Caravan, and “reminiscent of the precious cargo of the spice trade.” This scent was inspired by the tradition of high tea set by the Duchess of Bedford in 18th century England, while she was spending the summer with friends at Belvoir Castle and her ravenous party required cakes, sandwiches, and black tea. Five O’ Clock at Belvoir Castle has a heady black tea essence paired with a contrasting, aromatic freshness, courtesy of zesty and dewey top notes like fresh Italian bergamot. Sensual jasmine and sultry red rose are cradled by the rich, woody and oriental notes of sandalwood, patchouli, and tonka bean to make for a “multifaceted, fresh oriental fragrance.”
Cape of Good Hope, signed Claude Dir, features red tea leaf, lemon blossom, white floral, gardenia, rose milk, musk, Madagascar vanilla, and gentle woods notes. It’s both fresh and a little earthy, and was inspired by a historic turning point on August 3, 1498, when the first shipment of red Rooibos tea was loaded onto a boat and the tea was brought to foreign land after crossing the Cape of Good Hope.
1856 Darjeeling by Adriana Medina focuses on yellow tea. The date is a reference to the year the first tea plantation was established at the foot of the Himalayas in the Darjeeling region, where the English used to summer. Notes include bergamot, cardamom, chamomile, mint, jasmine, orange blossom, rose, tea, cedar wood, amber, and musk; this is a pleasing, mellow, aromatic brew. Hamarikyu Gardens by Marypierre is dedicated to green tea and takes inspiration from the Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo and even more specifically from the “restored Nakajima teahouse sitting atop a picturesque pond.” “It is always exciting what our olfactive memory can do. The whole tea universe always enticed me…and being challenged to translate this uniqueness into a fragrance gave another dimension to my work. Green Tea and its subtle sweetness is my favorite,” says the nose of her delightful fragrance, whose notes include sweet lemon, bergamot zest, and clean aldehydes, along with saffron, green roses, violet leaf, soft amber, and creamy musk.
Taverns and the Hague, last but certainly not least, is my favorite of the brews, and no wonder – it’s by Caroline Sabas, the genius behind my most beloved winter scent ever, Fresh Cannabis Santal. Taverns and the Hague pays homage to Blue Green Tea, or Oolong tea. This tea was a favorite among the owners of the Dutch tavern at the end of the 17th century, which offered the first tea service of the capital and country thanks to the merchants of the Dutch Trading Company. This joyful, crave-worthy fragrance features sparkling citrus notes mingling with linden ice, orange flower, violet leaf, vanilla bean, and sensual musks; more importantly, it just brings a smile to my face with every spritz. Available exclusively at Anthropologie and http://www.anthropologie.com.