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Did you know that tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world? The word “tea” is used in over sixty different languages.  The Russians like their chai black with cherry syrup.  While Moroccans prefer their green shai minty; they pour it high up creating a frothy foam on top.  In Japan, the brewing and serving of ocha is an art form that is centuries-old while the British reference tea according to mealtimes in the day: elevenses, afternoon tea, and high tea. The Irish take their tae robust and milky as opposed to Americans who like their tea iced and sweet. Let’s not forget about China! They invented the stuff thousands of years ago! The list goes on and on.  There are as many variations of tea in the world as there are stars in the sky!

Tea has been around as long as perfume throughout history.  They share many things in common.  They are both delightfully aromatic, tea has layers of flavor as perfume has layers of scent, the raw materials are similar. Technique and timing is of essence to make the perfect brew of tea as well as the perfect blend of perfume. Ironically, it is only within the last 15 years that tea and perfume have crossed paths.  Tea notes are becoming more and more common in the world of perfumery. I am discovering many fragrances list some kind of tea scent in their composition, for example, the black tea in Blood Concept B, lapsang souchong in Bulgari Black, and earl grey in Dorian by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Depending on the type of tea, tea notes can add a mysterious depth to fragrance giving off a unisex and “non-perfumey” edge.

Osmanthus Oolong by Charna Ethier, the nose and founder of  Providence Perfume Co., is a complex blend of three different tea notes: green, black, and red rooibos tea.  Naturally, as a tea lover, Osmanthus Oolong aroused my curiosity.   Oolong is my favorite variety.  It’s a versatile tea that takes on characteristics of black, green, and sometimes white tea.  It has a hint of sweetness. You can also re-steep it many times and you’ll find different nuances of flavor with each brew.  Every cup is a joy to drink!  If Osmanthus Oolong smells as good as Oolong tastes,  I anticipate this eau de parfum to be one fantastic fragrance!

Description: Green, red and black teas blended with sparkling citrus scented algaia blossoms, and golden Japanese osmanthus flower with its heady peach jasmine aroma.  Tart and fruity middle notes give way to a sueded apricot base with a touch of leather.  Lauded for its stunning aroma and sillage, Osmanthus Oolong is a must-try for tea lovers.

 Notes:  peach, bergamot, yuzu, osmanthus, jasmine, rooibos red tea, aglaia flower, black tea, green tea, beeswax

From the vial:  Smokey and boozy.  It smells like burning tea leaves sitting at the bottom of a kettle.  I also smell overripe, fermented fruit which lends to the booziness. This is not a delicate fragrance.

Wet on Skin:  The booze calms down a bit, the tea is a dominant note, still smokey and bitter.  So bitter I can taste it.  This is unpleasant to my nose and I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a scrubber.

Dry Down:  After a few minutes, the nasty bitterness morphs into the smell of well-worn leather.  Leather combined with fermented fruit.  I’m detecting just a teeny hint of Jasmine.  Just barely. The heavy leather and smokey tea are weighing down the floral quite a bit.  It smells like I’m wearing a brown leather jacket while drinking a steaming cup of dried apricots soaked in smokey black tea sludge.  How’s that for poetic imagery? After an hour, the leather note fades into the background and the smokey black sludge disappears into its tea swamp.  The beeswax makes its grand entrance.  A resinous golden honey sweetens the delicate and fruity oolong that I know and love.  Too bad this only lasts for 30 minutes before the curtains draw to a close.

Sillage: Average. People were able to smell me at close distance.  They were actually impressed and said, “Ewww! What’s that smell?”.

Longevity: 6 hours

Would I Buy a Full Bottle? No, I don’t think it would work out between us.

Pricepoint:  $$

Season and Occasion: Autumn and Winter

Final Verdict:  So much for my zen tea experience.  Osmanthus Oolong is like a French avant-garde film.  The entire length of the movie you are watching with one raised eyebrow and asking yourself, “What the hell?”.  The smokey tea, leather, and fermented fruit is definitely on the unconventional side.  My nose and body chemistry did not agree with this combination at all.  The only redeeming quality was the last 30 minutes of the dry down.  But it was like I had to swim through hell to finally get to heaven. It has at least one thing going for it; Osmanthus Oolong is a composition that is well-balanced with smooth transitions. A clear indication of Charna’s expertise and talent. Despite this positive, I wouldn’t wear Osmanthus Oolong for all the tea in China!   But don’t let me stop you, I’m in the minority.  From other reviews I’ve read, critics say Osmanthus Oolong is the best thing since buttered bread.  So if smokey-fermented-fruit-leather liquor sounds like your cup of tea, go for it!

For unconventional tea connoisseurs.

Providence Perfume Co.’s Osmanthus Oolong: Available for purchase at providenceperfume.com

Interested in other tea scents? Check out my review on Blood Concept B.

Next Up: Ferncliffe Perfume’s Misbehavin’