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! 😉