Jo Malone Tea Fragrance Blends Collection — Steeped In Tradition
A whistling, porcelain-covered, stainless steel tea kettle propped on a stove burner. A ceramic cup quivering ever so slightly atop its saucer as boiling hot water is poured into its interior. A thumb and index finger pressed together, their fleshy tips holding in place the long thread tied to a pyramid-shaped sachet of whole leaf tea. The careful upward and downward motion made with that partly closed hand as it dips the tea sachet ever so gracefully into the piping hot water. A silver spoon with a dab of honey spinning inside the cup, the sticky sweetness of the honey dissolving into the water and mixing with the complex tea flavors…. This montage of images illustrates the near-ceremonial steps that must be followed to prepare a proper cup of tea, the poetry and sentimentality infused into this ritual.
Even the consumption of tea has a sacrament-like quality — which is probably why the British have made it such an integral part of their daily routines. Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee meant to energize the spirit and toast the beginning of a new day, a slightly bitter afternoon tea blend perfect for entertaining guests, or a creamy evening cup to sweeten the palate and bid the day adieu, there are blends of teas to suit every moment of the day. Given that tea has more of a domestic nature than coffee (which is often bought en route to a destination and consumed while on the run), there are warmer, more familial, memory-making qualities to this beverage.
All these facets of the tea preparation and tea consumption processes are explored in the limited-edition Jo Malone Tea Fragrance Blends, developed by perfumer Christine Nagel. Each of the five colognes in the collection was inspired by the aroma of tea leaves steeped in hot water, then savored with a sweet treat or flavored with a slice of lemon, sprinkled with sugar, or tempered with a tad of milk or cream.
The colognes in the collection include: Assam & Grapefruit, meant to capture the excitement and anticipation of the morning hours, awakening the senses with a burst of citrus and then made mysterious and exotic via the Assam black tea note, which is then infused with spicy cardamom, woody patchouli, and sweet but crisp almond; Earl Grey & Cucumber, inspired by the mid-afternoon “High Tea” tradition during which cups of Earl Grey tea (made of the rind of bergamot oranges) are often sipped while eating cucumber sandwiches, and featuring top notes of bergamot, a watery cucumber center, and a sweet base of vanilla, beeswax and musk; Fresh Mint Leaf, a blend of soothing mint, fresh basil, and maté notes harmonizing with a cedarwood and musk base; Sweet Lemon, which fuses together a zesty lemon note with the sugary fruitiness of pineapple and peach, as an aromatic ode to the tradition of squeezing a slice of lemon into a cup of tea and stirring in a pinch of sugar; and Sweet Milk, a creamy fragrance that combines a milk accord with confection-worthy star anise, almond, and vanilla notes.
My two favorites in the collection are the Assam & Grapefruit Cologne and the Sweet Milk Cologne. Unlike the cheap herbal teas that are overly saturated with lemon, orange, and grapefruit notes, the citrus quality of the Assam & Grapefruit Cologne is invigorating but not overpowering. Instead of dominating the fragrance, it opens up the aromatic curtain, jolting the senses to life and making way for the malty, mysterious, sultry quality of the Assam black tea fragrance, which is then made even more exotic via spicy cardamom and warm patchouli accents and given an understated sensuality and a hint of sweetness thanks to a vanilla note.
The Sweet Milk Cologne, meanwhile, reminds me of a cup of steamed milk infused with vanilla and chai. You can practically envision the frothy surface of that steamed milk cup as you relish in the creamy sweetness of this scent, which features star anise, vanilla, and almond notes to lend the dominant milk accord greater complexity and a comforting but seductive quality. This light, almost elusive scent seems to dance on the skin, swathing it with a veil of creamy sweetness that’s barely noticeable, so it never feels like the perfume is wearing you. Instead, this is the perfect scent to usher you to sleep, inviting those near you to nuzzle against your skin.