Tea Ceremony

Four Solid Tea Fragrance Pencils from Anthropologie: A Rather Novel Collection

Four Solid Tea Fragrance Pencils from Anthropologie: A Rather Novel Collection

OK, amigos.  This is going to be A Rather Novel Review.  Half chadō and half kō, with a shot-glass of Starbucks coffee thrown in for olfactory palette cleansing.  I’m going to try to give you my first impressions of four tea fragrances from Anthropologie – part of what they call A Rather Novel Collection:

  • Hamarikyu Gardens by Marypierre Julien
  • Taverns and The Hague by Caroline Sabas
  • Cape of Good Hope by Claude Dir
  • 5 O’Clock at Belvoir Castle by Stephen Nilsen

These fragrances are all meditations on the history of tea.  How incredibly fun!  Each one has a brief that is, frankly, a whole heck of a lot more artistic than guy with six-pack abs is on the beach, and bathing beauty wants to get it on with you if you wear this stuff.

Here are the olfactory descriptions, taken from Anthropologie:

Hamarikyu Gardens by Marypierre: green tea-inspired, featuring sweetened lemon and bergamot zest, verbena and the softest amber (FRESH)
Cape Of Good Hope by Claude Dir: a steeped blend of red tea leaves and lemon, gardenia petals and musk (FLORAL)
5 O’Clock At Belvoir Castle by Stephen Nilsen: crisp bergamot and heady jasmine, sandalwood and damp moss (SPICE)
Taverns & The Hague by Caroline Sabas: exotic Oolong spiked with mandarin and lemon zest, violet leaves and rich musk (FRESH)

More interesting are the inspirations for the scents, which you can read over at the Scented Salamander, here.  Sorry.  Too lazy to plagiarize reword summarize today.

Actually, there are two more fragrances in the line, but I missed them already, and only these four were to be found at my local Anthropologie outlet.  Indeed, I consider myself rather lucky, as only two of them are to be found online at this moment.  In any event, I intend to use this experience to judge which one to buy in EDT format from the store.

How did I get into this?  Well, when I saw Claude Dir’s name on Cape of Good Hope, I was pretty much in the game.  Claude is the author of Juicy Couture’s Dirty English – one of the best and most underrated modern fragrances to fall upon us, in both my personal and “professional” opinions.  I figured that one had to be good.   And after briefly spraying all four fragrances on paper in the store, I knew that I needed to try all four in a more thoughtful circumstance, since they all seemed to be keepers.  This little self-inflicted bit of kō should do the trick.

Here.  We.  Go.

Cape Of Good Hope by Claude Dir

This one had to go first.  When I smelled the liquid fragrance in Anthropologie, it started this whole experiment.  Now, as the solid perfume pencil, I scribble invisibly across the back of my hand, leaving a waxy trail.  I can smell it immediately.  It’s good, and I want more, so I coat the entire back of my hand with the waxy writing of the fragrant crayon.  It’s completely invisible, but I can smell it strongly – a wonderful tea-like odor that reminds me of a dozen fragrances from my past – all the way from Terre d’Hermès to Bulgari Pour Homme and back through the Bulgari tea scents.  The rusty, leaf-littery brown scent of tea leaves, but mingled with just a touch of sweetness and some kind of wet freshness that reminds me of both warm steam and cool air.  I can feel both a steaming pot of tea itself, poured into fine porcelain, and the salty air of the sea, as a ship rounds the southern extreme of Africa.  My Hero of Dirty English strikes again!

Unisex?  Does tea have gender?  Anyone can wear this one.  Definitely worthy of a bottle of liquid fragrance.  My first of four is a solid contender – no pun intended.  The longevity and strength are not phenomenal, but I got a good hour of sillage at the beginning, and a nice smell for at least 3 hours, before it was mostly hovering around my skin.

Finally – and this is a really nice point – it stays balanced even as it dries down.    Dare I say, it may even get better.  The skin scent is strong, thanks to the solid format.  This would be very nicely used in…… strategic places.


Hamarikyu Gardens by Marypierre Julien

Next stop – Japan.  OK – I’m going to admit right up front that I’m not exactly a fan of Japanese green tea.  I find it too flat, terribly unsweet, and obnoxiously – even badly herbal.  I know, I know – I probably should have thought about that before marrying a Japanese lady.  Well – we just have to pick our battles, don’t we?  Green tea and red bean are about the only parts of Japan that I don’t like.  Well, there’s mochi, too, but a lot of Japanese aren’t terribly enamoured with mochi, so I’m safe there.

Anyway, this stuff smells WAY better than green tea.  In fact, this may just be one of the best light green scents I’ve ever had the privilege of smelling.  It’s just a mesmerizing combination of green and fresh and clean and soapy that just takes my breath away.  There is a HUGE déjà vu factor on this, too.  I KNOW that I’ve smelled this before, but damned if I can remember where.  In some ways, it’s as if they took the green streak out of Chanel no. 19 – with absolutely zero damage – and made it its own fragrance.  But I’m pretty sure that’s not where I smelled this.  This is very, very subtle.  Way more than no. 19.  Well, wherever I smelled this before, I’m going back if at all possible.

Again, this stuff should be used to scent specific areas of the body in a subtle but very, very attractive manner.

Hamarikyu Gardens is not only supposed to evoke the gardens of its name – it is also supposed to evoke a tea-house sitting atop a very picturesque pond.  Indeed, I would have to say that it does.  The fresh, clean and wet notes definitely evoke a pond, possibly even during or just after a rain.  The green and herbal notes – along with steamy wet notes, evoke real green tea.  But sweetened just enough.  The touch of lemon is there, too.

Damn.  This is good stuff.  This is going to be a very tough decision.

5 O’Clock at Belvoir Castle by Stephen Nilsen

Between subtlety and anosmia, the witching hour may have struck for this one.  I know that it smelled pretty awesome in the store – and convinced me that I had to grab all four pencils.  I even know that I could smell something as I unwrapped this one, moments ago.  But once it is on the back of my hand – we are talking olfactory crickets.  Yes – if I use my imagination, there is a bit of milky warmth, but it is so subtle, that the day’s residual Dirty English – over 15 hours old on my skin – threatens to overwhelm it.

What little is there is good.  But I may have to come back to this when my nose is in better shape.  With time, I get some bits of something like white pepper or ginger.  It’s very edible, if that makes any sense.  I get hungry by the smell.

OMG – that is SO wild.  This scent is supposedly about the “first” afternoon tea (see the description on Scented Salamander).  I think I see how it does that.  It’s almost like a very faint bit of something edible or drinkable – as if it were about the idea of having something to eat and drink.  Nothing as obvious as a gourmand.  More like the weightless idea of a gourmand.

But more than that, I like the way this smells a bit like a very faint and very quality drydown of many masculine scents.

Nice.  Not wowing me, but nice.  Worth your while to check out.  But not my personal fave.

Taverns & The Hague by Caroline Sabas

Ah – now that’s more like it.  When I smelled this in the store, I was instantly transported to some other place.  Not sure where it was, but taverns and the Hague were certainly close enough.  There is a strong smell – a bit environmental – which reminded me a bit of the John Galliano room scent from Diptyque.  It’s a certain very careful use of citrus and other touches that evoke a clean room with a certain level of upkeep.

Applied to my hand in full glory, this is a wonderful but challenging scent.  There is almost a plastic edge to it.  Beautiful and fascinating, a deeper sniff brings out musky notes.  The description refers to “sensual musks” and that is certainly a good way to describe this scent.  Breaking away from tea-speak, it’s a bit green in the perfume sense.  It’s supposed to evoke blue-green tea or oolong – I have no idea how those smell, but it’s a bit floral, spicy, and herbal – definitely not the normal tea, and much different from all the others I’ve sniffed in this quartet.  There is a coniferous, evergreen shrubbery facet that is very, very nice.

This may actually be my favorite from the series.  I think that the challenging but interesting scent just stands out from everything I own.  I’m not sure I would want to wear this on a first date, but for my own quiet contemplation, it’s fantastic stuff.  This may be the one that has to get bought.


So there you have it.  Four solid tea fragrance pencils from Anthropologie.  All very distinctive in their own ways.  Excellent niche, far from the maddening crowd of sporty and girly fragrances that everybody loves and everybody wears.

These are perfect for the Anthropologie girl, in my opinion.  The what, you say?  OK – hear me out.

There is one main reason I love to go into Anthropologie, other than to sniff their *massive* collection of oddball niche fragrances  – which you otherwise DO NOT find in my town.  Anywhere.  That reason is to just take in the pleasant view of that certain chic and free-spirited woman that Anthropologie caters to, and attracts into their shop by the dozens.  I feel like, in some other universe, I must be one of them.  I just get this odd feeling of nostalgia for a life that I never led when I’m in there.  I almost think that if I had been born with two X chromosomes, Anthropologie would be my favorite mall-type store.  I’d be in there trying on all those wide-brimmed hats, picking up all sorts of artisan clothes, and sniffing all these off-beat fragrances.  People online sometimes bitch about the fact that Anthropologie doesn’t have paper blotters anywhere, but I feel like touching them on the shoulder gently (Anthropologie girls would never grab somebody by the lapels) and saying “but you should really try them on skin” in a gentle and comforting way.

And then I would spray Taverns and The Hague at the base of my neck, tip my broad-brimmed hat, and say “What do you think?  Is it me?”

At which point my Japanese husband – who would happen to look a lot like my wife – would say “OK, OK – can I buy it for you?  Let’s go!

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