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Monday, January 16, 2006

Perfume Review: Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan


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.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Christina H. said...

I have been seriously thinking about this fragrance a lot lately and wondering if this would be something I need/want.I have never been much of a tea fragrance fan but was hoping the fruits would make this really pleasant.I now feel confident that I would probably feel let down.I will now be coveting the new Narcissus Harvest from L'Artisan which I'm hoping will turn out just as beautiful as the Fleur d'Oranger!.

9:58 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
Maybe wait till summer to try it? I thnk that I if I tried it in hot weather I probably would have liked it more. Right now it is just too...pale and cold. :-)

10:13 AM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I read your review and decided to wear Osmanthe Yunnan today. I love its silky drydown that has a nice warmth that clings to the skin. I smelled it recently on a classmate to whom I gave a sample and I could not believe how nice and strong the sillage was. I always thought that it stays close to the skin.

11:38 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

V,
I am going to give this another try when the weather is warmer. I think it would just the thing for hot summer days. Right now sweeter, thicker scents seem more appealing, like...um...Vanilla Peach LOL

11:51 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, is that what they are going to do with the discovery sets -- let you choose any 4? That would be wonderful news, I had assumed they would up the price and give you all 5.

2:01 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

R,
Now that you said it, I am not sure...if it's 4 or 5 and whether you can choose your own scents. I thought you could. Hmmm...

2:16 PM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

I haven't warmed up to Osmanthe Yunnan yet, it didn't seem to stay at all. I adore Rose Ikebana and Vetiver Tonka, despise The Nazgul and haven't done Poivre Samarkande yet, so I was expecting to feel more strongly one way or the other about Osmanthe Yunnan. Odd.

4:04 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

*agog* You despise Nazgul...erm..narguile??? I can't be your scent-sister then, Patty. Ambre Narguile is an integral part of my Top 5 list. Oh well...more for me! LOL

4:17 PM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

I know! And I can't figure out how I have gone so wrong, but there is a note that just hates me in AN. :::sigh::::

9:23 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Aww, sorry about that...oh well, plenty more scents out there for us to enjoy, right? :-)

10:09 PM EST  
Blogger nealo said...

My goodness... it's amazing how many similarities there are between us people who enjoy fragrances: we also enjoy tea! I have, at any given time, upwards of 100 varities of tea here at home, and I do mean pure Camellia sinensis -- not "herbal teas". I also have some pure dried osmanthus flowers that I sometimes add to teas when I brew them. The osmanthus blossoms add a cheery pinapple/orange flavor to the resulting brews.
I also have some osmanthus absolute here. To my nose, it has a cheery, fruity-floral fragrance, and as I understand, it has been under-used in the world of fragrance.
Yunnan teas do indeed tend to have a kind of spiciness. In the ones processed as black teas, this spiciness is sometimes likened to black pepper. Yunnan is also the home of the famed Pu-erh teas, which are a category unto themselves.

2:19 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

After reading your comment, I have such a craving for a nice cuppa. :-) I am to go brew some tea.

4:58 PM EDT  
Blogger happy said...

Hi, I've just by chance read your review of this lovely perfume. What a beautiful essay. Many thanks.I confess, I am totally hooked by this one. However, I just have 2 bottle of 5ml one. I desperatelly need 100ml one. But I can't find where I can buy it although I've searched lots of websites. Would you like introduce me from which website I could get it please? I am living in Belfast where I can't find Hermas shop. Desperately waiting for your answer.

Best whishes to you
Happy

3:19 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tea is beautiful but that tart fruity note totally ruins it for me.

11:06 PM EDT  

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