Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu Eau de Cologne by Bulgari
Bulgari have been adding to their tea caddy with Thé Bleu last year and Thé Noir in 2016. This sudden burst of creativity follows the releases of Thé Vert (1992), Thé Blanc (2003), and Thé Rouge (2005). 10 years after the last Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé was launched, the tea motif gets revisited in a wider market context where tea scents have both become über mainstream yet deserving of the attention of selective collections of perfumery interested in the connotation of luxury and refinement of tea connoisseur culture, as well as the jumping board offered by the undeniable popularity of gourmand fragrances. It is an exercise in luxury marketing balance between exclusivity and desire to sell...
Thé Bleu, blue tea, is a metaphor for the bluish tones of Fujian Oolong tea. The scent opens on a head note of fountain-like lavender, as if you were in a lavender field and suddenly a summer shower came down misting you with very fine droplets of water. This floral-aromatic note continues to develop, now with nuances of herbs burnt by the sun. The smell flickers in the warmth of a summer day, hay-like sometimes.
Behind this introduction to the Provence countryside bucolic charm - perfumer Daniela Andrier prefers to use the phrase « perfume-invitation » she opposes to « perfume-decoration » - a new atmosphere and texture appears created by iris, or orris. The smell is velvetier, more suede-like. A counterpoint of citrus lifts the scent. Woods and powdery musky notes form the base while a more ozonic sensation we've come to associate with tea/water since the 1990s expresses in the language of modern perfumery what portable tea-on-skin smells like.
Fortunately, this competent nuance in technical terms, by now widely shared by 21st century mainstream perfumery, is further refined into a rarer sensation of vapor. This is much less common and completely enjoyable in this composition. It is extremely well done. To our nose, it feels like Andrier used an (unadvertized) element of mint to reach this extremely delicate rendering of tea vapors. For a while, you are invited to inhale Thé Bleu like a light perfumed cloud as evanescent as the clarified trace of a brush stroke of India Ink on a Chinese painting on rice paper. The perfumer's art has managed to sign an accord of poetic steam in which we can look into and bury our noses while daydreaming or meditating.
The immateriality of this accord reaches its limit when the mentholated sensation becomes more definite sending a cool wave of medicinal notes to your guts region. At this point, we're in Eucalyptus-forest territory. This might prove refreshing in the summertime. For now, it's a bit like smelling through a Vicks nose stick. You end up tasting menthol in your mouth. Then again, the refreshing effect is very effective which should be an added bonus if you choose your summer perfumes with a functional purpose in mind.
The base of the fragrance is slightly peppery, moderately warm, with a raspy galbanum effect - that nuance of a blade of grass cut right in the middle oozing fresh sap. It's actually violet leaves together with shiso leaves, amped up.
Initially, Thé Bleu had revealed a galore of freesia when we smelled just the nozzle, as well as the signature cool spicy and creamy effect of cardamom by Jean-Claude Ellena who signed the first Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert in 1992 - that smell you find in his Déclaration by Cartier too. But these notes are never obvious within the evolving composition although you can tell there are affinities.
If you expected Bulgari Eau Parfumée au Thé Bleu to be the olfactory translation of « Sarcelle » blue and a study on blueish nuances, we would say that the fragrance is more remarkable for its study on the textural sensation of tea steam and its spiritual capacity to mirror and accompany our inner calm. While it lasts, it is great. But there is also a reason why the perfume is named an « eau de cologne », while being composed like an eau de parfum.
Then, the composition reconnects with a more practical preoccupation : beating the heat, in the best tradition of Kölnisch Wasser - the 4711 by Mäurer & Wirtz in particular with its mentholated wavelengths.
Fragrance notes: lavender, shiso leaves, violet, iris and musk.