Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tea for Three

I have long been enamored of the chunky and somewhat over-the-top style of Bulgari jewelry. In the 80s, although I could neither afford it nor wear it, I was all about the big, beautiful gemstones and would routinely tear Bulgari ads out of magazines and post them on my closet door to admire. It was not at all surprising to me that Bulgari would make the decision to extend their flair for things beautiful to the world of perfume.

Their first scent, released in the early 90s, was Au Thé Vert, based on green tea. This was followed, in 2002 by Au Thé Blanc, and Au Thé Rouge in 2006 (among others).

Au Thé Vert
Notes: bergamot, orange blossom, cardamom, Jamaican pepper, Bulgarian rose, Spanish jasmine, green tea, oakmoss, tonka beans, beeswax

Au Thé Vert opens with bright green citrus and unexpectedly spicy cardamom and pepper notes - seldom have I smelled a more true and obvious cardamom in a perfume.  There's a hint of jasmine and a pinch of rose.  Together these notes combine to form what we recognize as the now-ubiquitous smell of green tea, although I've never encountered a green tea that smells like this.  (Genmaicha is my favorite, and the fragrance often reminds me of a light fish stock.  Maybe because I'm usually eating sushi while drinking it.) The drydown has the honeyed sweetness of beeswax over the citrusy tea accord.  Quite summery and fresh.

Au Thé Blanc
Notes: Artemisia leaves, white tea, ablemosk, white pepper, ambergris, musk

Far more subtle and delicate than Au Thé Vert, Au Thé Blanc opens with a gentle white floral reminiscent of honeysuckle, reminding me of a warm spring day in the garden.  There is the tiniest bit of spicy white pepper and, I suppose, white tea.  (Does white tea have much of a scent?)  The drydown is sweetly musky, with the presence of both ambrette seed (ablemosk) and musk notes.  I like this one quite a bit.

Au Thé Rouge

Notes: pink pepper, orange, bergamot, red tea accord, fig pulp, walnut, musk

When I first smelled this on a paper strip at Sephora, I thought it was like being splashed with a glass of the world's best iced tea. On skin, the tea scent is strong, honey-sweetened with a touch of bergamot--but not enough to turn it into a cup of Earl Grey--and the luscious greenness of fresh fig. There's a slight bite of floral pink peppercorn, and an overall vanillaic softness in the drydown. Absolutely delicious.  It's a toss-up whether I prefer this one or Au Thé Blanc, but all three are beautiful scents worthy of the Bulgari name.


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