Anyone who enjoys a good cuppa knows that tea can be as pleasing to smell as to sip.
Think about a steaming pot of Earl Grey with its bouquet of bergamot or the earthier aromas that green leaves emit. The petite yellow flowers of the camomile plant are the olfactory equivalent of a soothing bedtime story while ginger's spice dances inside the nostrils.
So it's no surprise that, among the spring offerings from fragrance line Jo Malone, is a collection of scents designed with tea in mind.
Assam and Grapefruit, Earl Grey and Cucumber and Fresh Mint Leaf are all interpretations of popular tea blends. Then there's Sweet Milk and Sweet Lemon, which can be worn separately or paired with one of the others. Yes, you can spritz your tea straight or take it with added flavour, er, fragrance.
Master perfumer Christine Nagel is the nose behind the scents at Jo Malone and carries on with the same subtle, sophisticated spirit that made the company's Lime Basil & Mandarin such a hit a decade ago.
"The art of tea - from choosing your favourite to personalizing how you take it - is the ultimate British tradition," Nagel explains in an e-mail. "Hence it was inspirational to us. We were thinking of the fun and quirky renaissance of London tearooms, with modern interiors and original menus."
Presented with 50 different teas by the Jo Malone creative team, the process inevitably necessitated research. "We had a smelling and tasting session where I became inspired by the aromas of tea leaves when steeped in hot water," she continues. "It was fascinating to consider how to take something like Assam, which is quite deep and dark, and translate it into a scent that's light and palatable."
Gwen Dunant, co-founder of Perfumeniche.com, a Canadian fragrance site, commends the tea concept. "It's all about the experience and really plays into the ceremony and strength of Jo Malone," she says by phone.
Dunant and I also spent some time recalling other tea-inspired scents. The first that came to mind was Bulgari's Eau Parfumé au Thé Vert. Created by premier perfumer Jean Claude Ellena, it defined the minimalist unisex scent zeitgeist of the early 1990s and has since become a classic. It smells like tea the same way an impressionist painting resembles a landscape, which is to say, not really, but it captures a serene state of mind
We are undoubtedly living in tea times, what with desserts dusted with matcha powder and the steady stream of reports that drinking tea is beneficial for our health. But perhaps the strangest twist is that Tetley has released a scent called Le Brew. Only available in the U.K., the limited-edition fragrance seems like more of a media stunt than an entry into the market. I'm just relieved no one has pushed orange pekoe yet; to me, that black tea is the white bread of blends. Then again, Red Rose does sound like a ready-made fragrance name.