If I could stuff my mattress and bed pillows with one fragrant material, they would not be stuffed with rose petals, powdery sandalwood dust, dried herbs or even beloved vetiver — they would be stuffed with delicious-smelling black tea leaves. A favorite black tea of mine, Kalmi Gulabi, comes from India, and I get as much pleasure from sniffing the tea box containing it as I do sipping the brewed tea. Whenever someone mentions a “great tea fragrance,” I run — to the store or to a perfume sample supplier — and try it.
For those of you familiar with my perfume tastes and longings, pardon my mentioning ONCE MORE the late, great Comptoir Sud Pacifique Thé Eau de Parfum (its black tea note was rich and true). I would do almost anything for a bottle (or two…or three…) of Thé. I continue to mention Thé on this blog in the hopes I’ll open my email one day and read: “I have a case of the stuff in my basement; how much do you want and…what’s it worth to you?” I would reply: “All you have! Where do I ship my kidney?” Comptoir Sud Pacifique reformulated and renamed Thé — turning it into the watery, rather ordinary-smelling Écume de Thé (now discontinued) — and I’ve been searching for a replacement.
Christian Dior Escale à Pondichéry opens with the refreshing scents of lemony black tea, served with a sprig of musky, almost civet-y, jasmine. As jasmine fades, the aromas of fruit arrive: a quince-like note and bergamot. “Quince” quickly disappears and bergamot morphs into BERGAMOT — harsh, slightly oceanic (Pondichéry is a seaside city) and long-lasting. BERGAMOT takes over Escale à Pondichéry and my interest wanes; the fragrance dries down to a rather “sporty” cologne, its sandalwood and cardamom are barely there, almost worthless (unless you spray your colognes on your upper lip for easy sniffing).
In print and film spots, Dior makes much of the use of “exceptional ingredients” from India in Escale à Pondichéry (jasmine, cardamom, sandalwood, tea) but as Escale à Pondichéry develops I sense a stinginess in the formula; these “exceptional ingredients” must be utilized in miniscule quantity because the overall quality of the fragrance is “middling.” The Dior Les Escales fragrances, Escale à Portofino and Escale à Pondichéry, are lightweight and pallid; both fragrances fall flat after their top notes disappear.
So, the search for a great black tea scent continues. Till I find it, I’ll make do with green tea fragrances and my big box of Kalmi Gulabi tea (image, right).
Christian Dior Escale à Pondichéry is not yet available in the U.S. The Dior representative at my local Nordstrom, who just returned from a trip to company headquarters in Paris, said the fragrance will arrive in the U.S. in late fall or early winter 2009. It will be available in 75, 125 and 200 ml Eau de Toilette.
Note: Jasmine image via Wikimedia Commons; Comptoir Sud Pacifique Thé Eau de Parfum bottle and Kalmi Gulabi tea box photos by the author.