Nomad Tea is part of the Series 7 Sweet, which also features Burnt Sugar, Wood Coffee, Sticky Cake, and Spicy Cocoa. Like practically all of the Comme des Garçons scents since their debut in 1994, it aims to provide aesthetic olfactory pleasure through the sensation of anticipated then realized discovery, thanks to an expressly sought-out unusual twist and with oftentimes, but not in this case, a little dose of provocation.
The perfume brand owned by designer Rei Kawabuko loves to capture smells of the real world and transcribe them into liquid manifestos that are more or less incisive. Odeur 53 and Odeur 71 are compendia of street, office, home smells, Guerilla 1 only indirectly alludes to a butcher's shop without going to the extent of copying the literal aromas of, say, raw red meat and mutton fat, Red Harissa turns a terracotta red spicy condiment for Couscous into a plausible perfume ingredient, and much more.
Nomad Tea is a serene perfume travelogue, like a tea scent can be, making the international roads of tea bifurcate in one imagined place at the crossroads of your dreams. The scent bottle is whimsically shaped like a turban/pumpkin/garlic bulb/fennel, which is meant to represent a sweet. Letting the scent evaporate on your skin is accepting an invitation to drink Moroccan mint tea made with astringent bitter green tea from China sitting at a café terrace in Paris and next, jump to Myanmar on the map to inhale and chew on some fermented Laphet.
It is a scent that manages to be both slightly meditative and refreshing, with a calming influence also thanks to the woods, a welcome general psychological state to encourage in ourselves to counteract the summer heat...
Old Tamang woman drinking tea by Phitar
The perfume offers a herbaceous, minty opening resting on green-beige colored woods with a nuance of sweet condensed milk that quickly thins down to leave a medium light syrupy sensation. The scent is a cross between a Moroccan tea made with fresh mint leaves and Chinese Gunpowder tea and something rounder, woodier. The tea accord that is featured in the heart is Burmese tea or Lephet also called Laphet. It is a deeply woody tea accord, once you pay attention to it, to the point of suggesting fragrant wood like sandalwood, or even incense, thanks to its intrinsic richness and a smoky nuance. This tea perfume develops an aroma that is wholly vegetal, half-tea, half-wood with an added roundness suggestive of the softness of rice; after a while, it becomes decipherable as the scent of bamboo shoots, in particular as they are used in South East Asia as containers to smoke sticky rice or tea leaves. Laphet as it turns out is reported to be compressed in bamboo containers. According to In Pursuit of Tea, the tea is fermented "young leaves [are] plucked and fired before being buried underground anywhere from four to seven months; it's kept underground till it is sold at market."
Comme des Garçons relaunched Nomad Tea in 2017, after it had been discontinued previously, in a new aluminium packaging.
When many tea fragrances nowadays offer more or less refined tea and citrus interpretations of the jade liquid beverage following Jean Claude Ellena's original inspiration with Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert by Bulgari in 1992, Nomad Tea makes the effort of chiseling out another facet that can be associated with green tea, woods. In as much as the composition's inspiration is rooted in exoticism and the wish to recreate a less banal sensation, it also makes the cultural effort of seeking out a rarer kind of tea than the Japanese or Chinese or even Indian and Russian teas. In doing so, it successfully conjures up a distant world, in particular, Sout East Asia. Incidentally, we can only hope to experience one day a rendition of milky Thai red tea with its blood-orange sunset hue, a popular sight in restaurants, but not yet captured in a perfume to our knowledge.
Nomad Tea is woody, but also subtly aqueous as befitting the original beverage. The sweetness is like an understated honeyed syrup or rather sugared water and is never cloying. The woods when smelled attentively have a spiritual consonance to them, like a Burmese lacquer box steeped overtime in temple incense smoke. The perfume unfolds in a linear manner and dries down as a skin perfume with discreet sillage. It is a unisex fragrance like all of the CDG works.
Tea is naturally a gustatory experience, but it is also no less meaningfully, a moment marked in a day, a fluid clocking of time, a pause. Nomad Tea is both a sensual and meditative pleasure.
Although the Sweet Series was rumored to be discontinued, it is not. You can find it in Comme des Garçons boutiques and CDG confirmed that they are still available.
Comme des Garçons Boutique in NYC
Addr: 520 W 22nd St
How much is it?
$ 80 for 50 ml.
Top: artemisia, wild mint; heart notes: Burmese tea, geranium leaf; base: white sugar loaf, woody smoky notes.