Tea Ceremony – Review: Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan

Osmanthe Yunnan is part of the nine perfumes that make up the boutique-exclusive Hermessence line by Hermès, created by in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena.

I have a soft spot for Ellena and his every creation gets special treatment, meaning I am inclined to like it even before I smelled it. Understandably I am glad and relieved if I really love it, and confused and disappointed if I don’t like it or am just indifferent to it.

In my quest for tea scents this came up and I was all over it immediately.

It was created as he fifth scent of the Hermessence series that are designed to resemble Haikus. Osmanthe Yunnan was

“…conceived after a visit to the Forbidden City of Beijing, it is a silky alchemy of osmanthus petals and Chinese tea whose flowers release facets of freesia and dried apricot.The delicate aromas of tea “lead us by the nose to the Imperial Palace…” (according to the Hermès website)

Notes include tea, orange, freesia, osmanthus, apricot, leather and musk.

Osmanthe Yunnan opens with a slightly sharp-ish orange note over tea. Fresh, effervescent and cool, but it takes a few minutes for me to start to love the scent. The top notes are not my favorite part, but that stage I am not so fond of, lasts only for about three minutes. There is a slightly harsh, smoky undercurrent that goes away in favor of the softer, floral-fruity aspects of the osmanthus flower with its distinctive apricot smell. Lovely, transparent and tenderly floral. That is where I fall in love.

Osmanthe Yunnan is quintessential Ellena, delicate and translucent, but incredibly well-made, rounded and balanced. I always get the feeling that there is not too much of anything and not to little either. No one does simple like Ellena does. His kind of simple is the highest art.

I love to lose myself in visions of Japanese teahouses (yes, I am aware that Beijing and Yunnan are in China, but bear with me and my geographical liberties), Geishas carrying beautiful hand painted teapots and pouring the delicately fragrant steaming brew into my cup, while I look out over the garden and see the soft breeze rustling the leaves in the trees. I find Osmanthe Yunnan to be very calming and centering. It feels like a tender caress, like a warm breeze on skin. You have to be aware to smell it, you have to seek it out on the skin, it never gets in your face, never announces its presence loudly, it is discrete and almost shy. A blushing beauty.

Osmanthe Yunnan is ideal for spring and summer, together with Oolang Infini it will be worn a lot in the coming months to satisfy my craving for soft and light tea scents.

Side Note: I discovered that Osmanthe Yunnan is excellent when layered on top of the drydown of Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau. The Osmanthus note is boosted and longevity massively improved.

Other Hermessence perfumes I have reviewed are here.

Hermessences are available exclusively in Hermes boutiques in 100ml Eau de Toilette (with or without a 300$ leather sleeve!)  or a travel set of 4x15ml.

Dear Hermès, I can I please have a 15ml set of all the fragrances? I am quite certain I would not be the only one buying that! By all means release a tenth perfume and then come out with the set, great idea isn’t it? No need to credit me for it, just make the set available for all the Ellena fans out there. Thank you! 😉

Image credit: Hermes.com, Garden in Osaka courtesy of Photo8.com

About Olfactoria

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30 Responses to Tea Ceremony – Review: Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan

  1. Tara says:

    I have a sample of this and was waiting for the warmer months to try it. I think I’ll dig it out this week thanks to your lovely review. It’s helpful to know what to look out for, espcially with such a subtle scent as this. Calming and centreing sounds great, I hope I get that too!

  2. Marina says:

    I need to re-try it, since I have no recollection of the scent apart from its transparency. Which isn’t necessarily what I am looking for in osmanthus, but you never know.

  3. axum says:

    I had to smile reading this, after having mentioned on Bois de Jasmin that I fantasized about a perfume that evokes a tea room. I will have to seek out a sample of this somewhere…and Oolang infini. Thanks for this review!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Axum, welcome!
      I hope you find at least part of your ideal tea scent in Osmanthe Yunnan. I read your comment, this is missing the steamed rice note for one, but maybe you will still find it loveable enough. 🙂

  4. Victoria says:

    I love Osmanthe Yunnan, which is one of the most delicious osmanthus notes in any fragrance. Gosh, I realized that I have not worn it in a while, but now that it is slowly becoming spring, I need to dig out my bottle. Believe it or not, B, but after 3 years in my apartment, I have not unpacked all of my boxes. It only shows how much times I spent at home…. Sigh…

    • Olfactoria says:

      I totally understand, we have a spare room that still contains some boxes too (moved in in 2005). 😉
      Osmanthe Yunnan is really lovely, the best Hermessence I have tried yet (I am still missing a few).

  5. RH says:

    What a coincidence! I’ve tested this today (at an Hermes boutique with “help” from a very impatient SA and his tight, pressuring smile… thank god that’s done with…), and my sentiments are similar to yours. I can do without the top notes, but the drydown is lovely. At first I wasn’t sure if it was worth fussing about, but the more I smell it, the more I like it. I don’t get much tea note from it, though I do sense the… “tea vibe”, so to say. I have a feeling this will end up in my summer fragrance wardrobe with The pour un Ete.

    And as strange as this sounds… the bit of suede-leather aspect in this perfume reminds me of a diet version of Parfums Delrae’s Mythique… though I’ll have to go through some further testings to confirm my feelings.

    Have you tried the Iris Ukiyoe? I tried it today but was not extremely impressed as I hoped to be. It’s awfully nice, but lacking a little something.

    • Olfactoria says:

      For me it was a case of “the more I smell it, the more I like it”, too.
      Interesting comparison to Mythique, I don’t know it well, but I have a sample still waiting for closer inspection. 😉

  6. RH says:

    Oh stupid me- I don’t know why I read the title of your review link as Brin Reglisse and not Iris Ukiyoe- my brain does that sometimes!!!!! Argh! Tried to modify that comment but I guess I can’t (blushes furiously)
    Your Oolang Infini has me drooling too- I’m a sucker for anything that evokes tea.

    • Olfactoria says:

      No need to blush! 🙂
      I wish I had Brin de Reglisse, it is high up on my need to smell list.
      Oolang Infini is my go to scent at the moment, I can’t get enough of it, it is so good.

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  14. Ellia says:

    I owned 15ml bottle of Osmanthe Yunnan… what can I say? It was pleasant and inoffensive – great for any occasion or season but It didn’t strike me as something so special I can’t live without or one which I would like to buy again… Anyways this fragrance left me some nice and pleasant memories:)

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