Osmanthe Yunnan, “inspired by a stroll through Beijing's Forbidden City”, is the fifth and newest scent in the Hermèssence Collection, created for Hermès by Jean-Claude Ellena. With notes of yunnan tea, orange, osmanthus, freesia, and apricot, this is a gentle scent of tea subtly infused with osmanthus and fruits. Having seen both apricot and osmanthus (which has a fruity-floral apricot-like aroma) among the notes, I was a little worried that Osmanthe Yunnan would be a little too heavy on apricot, a little too fruity. It is not. It is a tea scent first and foremost, to my nose, with fruity and floral notes only serving as a delicate, gauzy, summery background.
Yunnan tea has an intense, thick taste; in Osmanthe Yunnan this almost-spicy richness of Yunnan tea is toned down; in its turn Yunnan tea accord lessens the potential sweetness of fruits and freesia. All that makes Osmanthe Yunnan one of the most understated, light and neutral fragrances I have ever tried. The only bright accord here is the freesia note that, on my skin, is among the top notes. It subsides very quickly however, and from then on the scent is a rather dry, transparent aroma of (mostly) tea and (to a much lesser extent) fruits. As the scent dries down, I can finally smell the orange note, but it is very quiet and muted.
Osmanthe Yunnan would be great worn on very hot summer days or in situations and surroundings where scents with more oomph are frowned upon. I am not sure, however, that I am prepared to pay the price ($180.00 for 100ml) for the perfume that has this little presence. Perhaps I will finally purchase a Discovery Set of four 15ml Hermèssences and then I will include Osmanthe Yunnan as one of the choices ($125.00 for four 15ml bottles). Both full bottles and Discovery Sets are available exclusively in selected Hermès stores.
*The photo of Golden Osmanthus is from nature.de.