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Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit

Have you ever stumbled upon an entire collection of fragrances, launched all at once, that you loved…?  Me neither.  Until now.  Although maybe my passion for Jo Malone’s new tea-inspired collection is because The Scent Critic is such a tea-lover, at heart.  Fuelled by cups of tea throughout the day – and quite a lot of the time I could care less whether it’s rare White Silver Tip or PG Tips or Mariage Frères Lapsang Souchong.  (Though The Scent Critic’s new friend, The Rare Tea Lady, is probably spluttering into her vintage teacup at that confession.)

Bulgari was the first fragrance house to make a big thing of tea, of course, with Eau Parfumée Green Tea – but this limited edition collection, created once again by gifted perfumer Christine Nagel, is an epic exploration of the tea world.  (If I go on being effusive about Christine Nagel’s brilliance, she’s going to think I’m some kind of scented stalker – so from now on, The Scent Critic is playing it cool.)

Of the quintet, this is your morning cuppa – and super-refreshing and sense-waking it is, too.  Grapefruit is familiar to many Jo Malone-lovers, of course, from a Grapefruit cologne in the main range.  If you love that, you’ll definitely love this – although I find this softer and rounder:  cooling, calming, in contrast to the original Jo Malone cologne which always had a slightly chalk-on-a-blackboard quality, to me.

In the next few minutes on the skin, there’s an ever-so-slightly expensive-soap note in this – before a very definite yet fragile black tea edge soon kicks in:  literally like burying your nose in a caddy of Assam leaves.  To me, it’s clean sheets.  It’s sunlight streaming through a muslin-curtained window.  It’s a little bit of dew, on the grass:  the maté tea that’s been blended in makes this intriguingly aromatic and slightly herby.  I get stone cloisters.  No, honestly:  imagine walking down a stone corridor on a sunny morning which promises to be baking hot later, while you enjoy the cool limestone under bare feet.

And yes, I’m allowed to get all lyrical.  That’s what fragrance does, when you shut your eyes and let it take you places.

At the same time, there’s a tart note – the grapefruit, I originally thought, though since discovered there’s rhubarb in there – which explains that perfectly.  But this gets even more interesting after it’s ‘stewed’ on the skin awhile, I think.  Then – in contrast to the just-brewed topnotes – Assam & Grapefruit mellows deliciously, and becomes quite sensual.  It segues into something rather Indian, at this point – entirely down to the cardamom, and a handful of other spices that I think Christine Nagel has judiciously sprinkled in there:  a touch of nutmeg, if I’m not mistaken.  Softly, softly, a patchouli note emerges – in an understated way.  Can patchouli be sheer?  Well, here it definitely is…

But as a package, it’s fresh, it’s very, very wearable – and it’s subtle enough that you can zoosh it to your heart’s content without risk of overwhelming anyone packed so close to you on a crowded District & Circle Line train that you half-wonder if they’re involved in a little frottage.  Personally, it’s a scent I’ll be keeping on my desk – especially as summer approaches – for meltdown moments:  perfumery’s equivalent of Rescue Remedy, with a single spritz both reviving and blood-pressure-lowering, all at once.

Just like a cuppa, actually – but with this, you don’t even have to get your backside off your office chair to put the kettle on.  Result!

All the fragrances in this collection are said to be unisex – and I wouldn’t mind nuzzling this one little bit.  Assam & Grapefruit tea for two?   Don’t mind if I do.  And what’s more, I’ve a date with the rest of the Tea Collection, over the next few days…

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