Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu or Musical Perfume

In the comments to Tara’s recent beautifully evocative review of L’Artisan‘s Tea for Two (you have to read it if you haven’t read it yet – I promise: you’ll be charmed) several people mentioned they didn’t like the name. They didn’t explain why but it surprised me so I kept thinking about it.

L'Artisan Tea for Two

For a long time I couldn’t figure out where and when I heard Tea for Two song for the first time. Actually, I could have sworn that the first time I heard lyrics of this song in 2007 on the CD Hey Eugene! by one of my favorite group Pink Martini. They recorded this song with a guest – 81-year-old legendary jazz singer Jimmy Scott. I found an interesting small article about that version of the song on NPR website:

… singer China Forbes starts off with the seldom-heard introductory verse, which makes it clear that the whole thing is a fantasy. There is no tea, and no twosome. She’s making it all up, because her love life is a disaster. […] Their [Forbes and Scott’s] “Tea for Two” becomes the confession of a woman and her imaginary lover, their innocence shielding them from all the things that might go wrong.

Since there’s no real video for the clip below can I suggest listening to it while quickly scanning through the rest of the article?

But I had a feeling that I knew this song… well, at least a line from the song (“tea for two and two for tea”) long before then. But from where? I haven’t heard this song before – either when I still lived back in my native country or after I moved to the U.S. But somehow I knew those words and recognized the tune… When I found the explanation I was amazed.

I was right: I haven’t heard the song before. What I heard many times through my childhood was Tahiti Trot, Op. 16 (listen to 10-15 seconds starting from 44s) – Dmitri Shostakovich‘s (a prominent Russian composer and pianist) 1927 orchestration of Tea for Two:

Shostakovich wrote it in response to a challenge from conductor Nikolai Malko: after the two listened to the song on record at Malko’s house, Malko bet 100 roubles that Shostakovich could not completely re-orchestrate the song from memory in under an hour. Shostakovich took him up and won, completing the orchestration in around 45 minutes.
Tahiti Trot was first performed in Moscow on 25 November 1928, and has been a popular encore ever since.

Of course I liked and recognized the melody! Of course I thought it was a great name for perfume! And when I tried Tea for Two perfume I immediately liked it as well.

Tea for Two is the only bottle from L’Artisan Parfumeur in my collection. And it’s one of a very few that are truly shared perfumes in my collection: I enjoy both wearing it myself and smelling it on my vSO. Perfume for two.

Rusty and L'Artisan Tea for Two

I have one more “musical” association for this perfume’s name (in case you still haven’t changed your mind about it). It’s an abstract linguistic joke I heard many years ago (told in Russian). Recently I discovered that it exists in some other non-English-speaking cultures (probably in those without long and short vowels).

A tourist who doesn’t speak English well calls hotel’s front desk from his room No 22 and tries to order two cups of tea:

Concierge: (cheerfully) How can I help you?
Tourist: Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu
Concierge: Pardon me?
Tourist: Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu!
Concierge: (with a shrug and eye-rolling, thinking: “Those crazy foreigners!”) Purum-pum-pum-pum! (rings off)

I keep murmuring that Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu for the last couple of weeks.

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Grapefruit

 

I think I was about ten years old when grapefruits first appeared in our grocery stores. Nobody knew exactly what they were but the rumor had it they were a hybrid of orange and lemon. Since beside those two the only other citrus known to the population was mandarin, the information didn’t seem all that absurd.

Masses hadn’t appreciated the novelty: even though it was bigger than an average orange it was too bitter. The idea to peel each wedge didn’t occur to people at first and once it did seemed like too much work.

Fruits were scarce and expensive and there were hardly any I didn’t like. So I liked grapefruits as well.

Rusty and Pomelos

Since then I’ve tried many more different varieties of citrus including grapefruit’s real parent pomelo but grapefruit is still one of my favorite fruits and I enjoy it in many forms.

 

Perfumes

This is a perfume blog so I’ll start with the perfume-related part (though for whatever reason – holidays? – my thoughts are all over the place). Grapefruit is a popular note in both supporting and leading roles so I am not trying to cover even all grapefruit perfumes that I’ve ever tested and still have samples of but will mention only several in-you-face grapefruit fragrances that I liked the most.

Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain is probably one of the best-known grapefruit perfumes. If you want a real review, I suggest reading Suzanna’s (Bois de Jasmine) five-star rated review. If you’re familiar with the perfume, I recommend reading Vanessa’s (Bonkers about Perfume) post Bonkers “In Edinburgh”: The Guerlain Pamplelune Sniff-Off And A Bid To Rescue Birgit’s Grapefruit Scent Squeeze – just for laughs. I like Pamplelune and two mini bottles will satisfy my grapefruit cravings for a while. Once they are gone I suspect I’ll want more.

Guerlain Pamplelune

Not surprisingly, Grapefruit by Jo Malone is the second perfume that comes into the conversation every time somebody raises the topic of perfumes with the homonymous note. Gaia (The non-Blonde) in her review was even more generous towards this perfume than I would have been: I think it’s nice but not interesting enough to tolerate the usual Jo Malone perfumes’ vanishing act and too expensive to use it in, again, usual for the brand’s DIY layering games. But I love Jo Malone’s Grapefruit Body & Hand Wash Gel. My travel-sized bottle is gone so now I’m thinking about buying the real bottle. I do not like the price but I enjoyed taking showers with that gel so much that I might just take the plunge.

JM Grapefruit‘s half-sibling, Pomelo by Jo Loves… (same perfumer but different brand and relations become even murkier if to consider fruits themselves), starts like a juicy grapefruit (well, technically pomelo but those two are close enough) but the drydown on my skin is very similar to the older brother’s one. And with an even higher sticker price this one isn’t making it into my collection. For real review of Jo Loves… Pomelo read Lucas’ (Chemist in the Bottle) post.

Another half-sibling, Assam & Grapefruit by Jo Malone (same brand but different perfumer), much more subtle with grapefruit, was a limited edition a couple of years ago (it’s still available online) so even though I have a bottle of it and wear it in summer from time to time, I don’t think it’s special enough to recommend hunting for it.

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermès in its opening is an unmistakably grapefruit perfume. Every time I try it, for the first couple of minutes I have to hold myself from leaking my wrist – so believable Eau de Pamplemousse Rose smells of sweet and juicy grapefruit! But then it dries down to a floral skin scent. It’s pleasant but the only reason I might go for a small bottle is because I like those colored bottles from the line. Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) thinks that Eau de Pamplemousse Rose can be trusted to revive the spirits, even if the rain keeps falling.

Rusty and Guerlain Pmplelune 

Drinks

I’m not a tea connoisseur (so if you are please disregard this part of my post) but I like tea and throughout the years I found different teas that I enjoy drinking. One of such teas is Lupicia Grapefruit Green tea. It’s very fragrant and has a very believable grapefruit smell. I bought this tea more than once which I do only with teas that I really liked – otherwise I just move on.

 

Food

Several years ago at Out The Door restaurant in San Francisco I ate Jicama and Grapefruit Salad with Red Cabbage, Candied Pecans and Sweet Soy Dressing salad. It was created by a known master chef Charles Phan (Slanted Door). I liked it and started making a variation of it at home. You can simplify the preparation by buying candied pecans instead of making your own. I found a blog with detailed instructions and pictures for this salad, so I won’t reproduce it here but rather give you a link.

 

Do you like grapefruits?

 

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Pear

In my childhood August a month before the school started and a month when an old pear tree in my grandparents’ garden was ready to share with us the best pears I’ve ever eaten in my life.

August Pear

I was too little to think of such things as variety so all I can remember now: it resembled Comice pear – green-yellow with an occasional red blush. The tree was tall, with a lot of branches. Low hanging fruits … were allowed to ripe on the tree. Whenever I felt like it I could go there and choose which one I wanted to eat. Pears that grew higher on the tree would be usually picked slightly immature and left to ripen in the summerhouse. My Grandfather had built it himself and I loved spending time in it – playing when I was younger or reading when I got older. A wonderful smell of dozens ripening pears accompanied me in those hot summer days when tired of running around in the sun I would resort to the shade of the summerhouse.

Unlike mimosa, linden or lilac – all scents which I always loved and wanted to wear as a perfume, I’ve never considered pear to be a wearable scent. I like eating them in the season, don’t miss them off-season and definitely don’t want to smell of them.

I like Petite Cherie by Annick Goutal – created in 1998, notes include pear, peach, musky rose, fresh-cut grass, vanilla. But I wore it for years before I learned it had a pear note. Even after that I thought I couldn’t smell a pear note. I tried to describe how Petite Cherie smelled and I couldn’t. I can’t come up with words to represent what I smell and the scent doesn’t remind me of anything else so I can’t even offer an association. I do not have any special memories connected to Petite Cherie, so probably I really just enjoy the scent. If you’ve tried it you know how it smells and if you haven’t – try because whatever description you’ll read will not give you the right picture of what to expect from this perfume. For years I thought of it as of a universal darling but recently I met a couple of people who, to my surprise, found this perfume to be unpleasant. I wore it again while working on this post and I still love it.

Deep Red by Hugo Boss – created in 2001 by Alain Astori and Beatrice Piquet, notes include black currant, pear, tangerine, blood orange, ginger leaves, freesia, hibiscus, sandalwood, Californian cedar, vanilla and musk (fragrantica.com). This is one of my favorite perfumes from my pre-perfumista period of life. I know Perfumeland’s attitude towards that brand. I realize that it probably isn’t that great and stands out both in this post and in my current collection. And I do not care: I liked Deep Red for many years; I went through two bottles of it and still have some juice left in the third one; and I still enjoy wearing it.

English Pear & Freesia by Jo Malone – created in 2010 by Christine Nagel, notes include pear, freesia, rose, amber, patchouli and woods (from jomalone.com; other sources mention quince, rhubarb and white musk). Sweet, almost gourmand but not quite because of the strong floral component. It’s a bright and warm scent but at the same time it maintains transparency usual to Malone’s colognes. It doesn’t develop much on the skin (as most of other perfumes in this line) but if you like what you smell it’ll stay with you for hours. I got a small decant of English Pear & Freesia from a co-worker and I will buy a bottle once it’s gone.

La Belle Hélène by Parfums MDCI – created in 2010 by Bertrand Duchaufour, notes include pear accord, aldehydes, tangerine, lime blossom, rose essence, osmanthus absolute, ylang-ylang Madagascar, orris butter, hawthorn, Mirabelle plum, myrrh, vetiver Haiti, patchouli, cedar Virginia, amber, oak moss absolute, white musks, sandalwood, licorice wood (luckyscent). It’s a true gourmand scent, sweet but with some dirty note in the drydown. For me La Belle Hélène smells not like a pear fruit but like a pear tart (love those). It’s much more complex than English Pear & Freesia. I got my sample from a draw at Persolaise – A Perfumer’s Blog. I like how it smells and develops on my skin but I’m not sure if I want to wear it as a perfume. The price is also a stopping point. So when I’m done with the sample I won’t probably be seeking even a decant (read the review that inspired me to test this perfume again recently).

Mon Numéro 1 by L’Artisan Parfumeur – created in 2009 by Bertrand Duchaufour and re-launched in 2011 (though I can’t find it now on L’Artisan’s website), notes include pear, basil, bergamot, violet leaves, black currant buds, mimosa, osmanthus, magnolia flower, hay, musk, vanilla. I have a strange relationship with this perfume. I thought I would like it. I wanted to like it. It opens very nice and fresh on my skin but then in one out of three times it becomes too soapy – and not in a nice, clean way. It always dries down to a more pleasant and well-balanced scent but it doesn’t excite me, I do not feel compelled to wear it more. I’m very grateful to my perfume friends for the opportunity to try it (Suzanne shared with me some Mon Numéro 1 from Birgit’s sample) and want to assure them that it wasn’t a total waste: even though I do not like it as much as they did (read their reviews through the links above), Mon Numéro 1 helped me to learn what is called “pear” in perfumery. I do not recognize it as a pear scent but I smell it in all tested perfumes with that note listed in the description. So now I know. And I do not mind smelling like that “pear.”

Honey Pear Tea

What is your perfect pear?

Mine – Honey Pear by Golden Moon Tea.

 

Images: my own

WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden

Early summer of my High school graduation year. Blooming linden trees in the downtown of the city where I lived. Bitter-sweet scent fills the air. Bitter-sweet feelings overflow me: I’m done with all the tests and school is almost over; he doesn’t love me anymore and isn’t coming to my graduation party. Even though I asked him to do it as a favor from a friend; even though I wasn’t creating any drama and behaved very mature (well, that was how I imagined behaving mature): most of our mutual friends had no idea we broke up more than two months ago, we didn’t want to complicate the group’s dynamic.

My heart was broken; it felt like the end of the world. And at the same time I fully realized it wasn’t the end of the world. But I hurt and it felt lonely and empty at the moment.

I remember walking the streets, inhaling the bitter scent of linden blossom and wanting to be happy… It was a very abstract thought. I didn’t define what exactly “happy” would mean, I didn’t have any specific wishes; I just wanted to change that one component of my life. I was longing for a combination of a warm evening, problems left behind, wonderful bitter scent of linden and a feeling of a complete happiness.

Many years later, while I still knew almost nothing about perfumes other than that I enjoyed using them and a couple of the most known brands and names, I thought it would be great to get a perfume that smelled like linden. You can imagine how much luck I had in late nineties asking SAs in department stores for this specific note in perfumes. Several years later I tried running Internet searches for that scent and again didn’t succeed.

French Lime Blossom by Jo Malone – created in 2005, notes include bergamot, tarragon, French Lime Blossom and some generic “floral notes”. This was the first Jo Malone’s colognes with which I went beyond samples. I bought a small 9 ml bottle of it. I do not remember if I liked it the most out of all I tested then or if I just happened to get a good deal on it, but I got it and enjoyed it … for a year (or even more) before I learned that the perfume I liked was actually based on the note I was looking for. I had no idea that French lime blossom and linden blossom were synonyms. I won’t even claim English not being my mother tongue because as I’ve learned since then many natives think French Lime is just some variety of citrus. Does it smell citrus-y? Not at all. But I wasn’t analyzing the scent, I liked it and wore often. I didn’t recognize it but after I knew what it was supposed to be, I could agree that it somewhat reminded me of a linden blossom. French Lime Blossom has an average sillage and a surprising tenacity – it stays on my skin for more than 8 hours with a very distinct smell, not just the remaining base notes.

This month I again decided to combine my Weeklong Test Drive and Single Note Exploration posts, so here are several more linden-centered perfumes I had a chance to test.

Linden by Demeter – as many Demeter’s creations this one is a soliflore. I couldn’t find any information on when it was created. All I can say, it’s an uncomplicated, slightly chemical scent that survives for two-two and a half hours on my skin. It’s too simple for me to want to wear it alone but I found at least one interesting combination for it.

Tilleul by Provence Sante (EauMG – thank you for the sample) – no information on notes or creation date available. This perfume doesn’t work for me. On my skin it smells too sweet. For some reason when I smell it I think of pollen. Tilleul lasts for about three hours and then goes away leaving just that slightly nauseating sweet scent. Since I read many good reviews of the perfume I assume it’s my body chemistry to blame.

When I first read about the upcoming release of Andy Tauer’s linden blossom theme perfume I was very excited. I didn’t have a good reason to expect to like it (since so far I found just one Tauer’s perfumes that works for me out of five I tested) but I had a hope. I was lucky to win a sample from Scent less Sensibilities (Tarleisio, thank you – I enjoyed the excercise) and was waiting anxiously for it to arrive, I even postponed this post to allow myself to wear it two-three times before reaching a verdict.

Zeta by Tauer Perfumes – created in 2011, notes include lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, ylang, orange blossom, neroli, linden blossom, rose, iris root, sandalwood and vanilla. The first time I applied it I was very disappointed: it smelled nothing like linden blossom to me (I’m not sure why I was surprised since for the life of me I cannot smell lily-of-the-valley in Carillon pour un Ange). But I was insistent. I kept trying it again and again – alone and alongside with other linden perfumes. I still do not smell enough linden but I rather like the scent than not. It’s the best perfume – as a perfume – among all I tested for this post. It’s very complex, unique and fascinating. As many (all?) Andy’s perfumes are. I like it as a scent that I test. I’m not sure if I want to wear it as a perfume. And I am sad: I like that green pentagonal bottle and really hoped I would love the scent enough to warrant a full bottle purchase. I didn’t. In addition to everything said, Zeta completely dies on my skin after just four hours of wearing. All five previously tested Tauer’s creations “wore me” (I don’t remember who was the author of the phrase but when I read in some blog “I wasn’t wearing the perfume; the perfume was wearing me” I felt it described exactly how I felt for most Andy’s perfumes and especially those that didn’t work for me).

I haven’t found the perfect linden perfume yet and I’ll keep looking. But recently I bought a nice tea with linden. It reminds me of the linden flower tea that my grandmother used to harvest from the linden tree in her garden. In my childhood it was used as an herbal analog of Theraflu.

Read more: French Lime Blossom review at I Smell Therefore I Am, Tilleul review and Loving Linden from EauMG; reviews for Zeta at Perfume Shrine, the Non-Blonde, Perfume Posse and WAFT.

Image: my own

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone

WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone

Early this year (2011) Jo Malone introduced a limited edition collection Tea Fragrance Blends created by Christine Nagel.

“Five distinctive, contemporary scents, inspired by that most quintessential of British traditions – when everything stops for tea.” (Jo Malone official website).

English TeaI tried all five colognes from the collection and ended up buying three – Assam & Grapefruit, Earl Grey & Cucumber and Sweet Milk. Fresh Mint Leaf and Sweet Lemon both were nice but too simple. I wish Jo Malone released all five blends in a gift set of 9 ml each. Otherwise I had no use for 30 ml of a mint-centered cologne.

Earl Grey & Cucumber by Jo Malone – notes include bergamot, apple, jasmine, cucumber, angelica, davana, beeswax, vanilla, musk and cedarwood. I cannot smell any cucumber but I do get Earl Grey tea – not just a bergamot that is commonly used in many perfumes but the specific aroma you get from a freshly brewed Earl Grey tea. It wears very nicely on my skin, and I’m glad I bought it.

Assam & Grapefruit by Jo Malone – notes include grapefruit, black tea, cardamom, almond and patchouli (according to the official website; other sources mention also rhubarb, rose and musk). This one was an impulse buy. It smelled on paper much better than it smells on my skin. It’s a very subtle scent that turns too soapy on me half of the times I wear it. I tried to combine it with Sweet Milk and together they’ve created a nice spring scent but I’m not sure it needed to be a standalone cologne taking into the account that there is a very nice Grapefruit cologne in Jo Malone’s line. Robin at NST liked it much more so you might want to read her take on Assam & Grapefruit.

Earlier I’ve already told my story about Sweet Milk.

If you’ve tried colognes from the Tea Fragrance Blends collection do you think any of them are worth being brought back as a part of the permanent collection?

Image: my own

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone

“Here’s a photo I’ve been looking for…”: Sweet Milk by Jo Malone

… the sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
Thalassa Cruso

I like Jo Malone‘s colognes. I own more full bottles of this brand than of any other. And then some decants and sample sprays. One way or another there are fourteen scents by Jo Malone in my collection. Not being familiar with the limited edition concept in the past, I’ve missed some of the perfumes I wish I haven’t. So this time I went to a store as soon as I read the new limited edition Tea Collection by Jo Malone became available.

Sweet Milk by Jo MaloneIt was an interesting idea – tea party components in a bottle. I concentrated on two “main” scents – Assam & Grapefruit (bought it) and Earl Grey & Cucumber (still thinking about getting it); I dismissed Fresh Mint Leaf and Sweet Lemon as nice but too simple; as to the Sweet Milk scent, it piqued my curiosity because it smelled … differently but I didn’t think I would like it. I sprayed it on my wrist just to see how it developed on the skin. And as I was sniffing it repeatedly, not only the scent but also my childhood memories started developing. And in no time my mind conjured vivid pictures from the past.

Dive in to keep reading…

Tea Break

I enjoy drinking brewed tea. In my day-to-day life I consume mostly not caffeinated (not de-caffeinated!) teas from tea bags but on weekends or when having friends over I like making real tea. I’m not a tea snob, I do not read about teas even as much as I read about perfumes so I have no idea if teas that I like are amouages or britney spearses of the field. And I do not really care as long as I like how they smell, how they taste and how they look.

Golden Moon TeaI knew nothing about the brand when one of my friends brought a couple of Golden Moon Tea’s tins as a gift – one with White tea (with an unexpectedly for a white tea well-defined taste) and one with black tea and vanilla (they do not carry it any longer but this one is the closest to the one I tried before). If you were to apply L’Artisan’s Tea for Two lightly, wait for couple of hours and then add Diptyque’s Eau Duelle you would get something close to how Madagascar (black tea) smells.

Dive in to keep reading…