NEW YORK — The tea party continues at Bulgari.

Eau Parfumée Au Thé Blanc — or White Tea, in English —will join the brand’s tea franchise this spring. The franchise was first launched with Eau Parfumée Au Thé Vert (Green Tea) in 1992. The brand is positioning the two as a unisex masterbrand concept.

"White Tea is one of the most prestigious of all teas — it’s the most expensive and contains the most antioxidants,"said Connie Ruscio, vice president and general manager of Fragrances Exclusive International (FEI), Bulgari’s U.S. fragrance distributor. "It is cultivated in very limited quantities, and it can be harvested on only a few days each year. This makes it one of the rarest and most sought-after natural ingredients. It was a natural complement to Bulgari’s luxury positioning and is a great companion to existing Bulgari items."

While the fragrance is intended to be unisex, it will most likely be positioned at the women’s fragrance bar, noted Ruscio.

The juice, by Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich, includes top notes of artemisia leaves, middle notes of white tea, abelmosk and white pepper and bottom notes of ambergris and musk. The bottle design, frosted glass capped with silver, is by Thierry de Bashmakov. It will launch with a body lotion and a bath-and-shower gel. The fragrance will be available in two sizes, a 1.33-oz. spray for $54 and a 2.5-oz. spray for $70. The 6.7-oz. body lotion will retail for $47.50, while the 6.7-oz. bath-and-shower gel will retail for $40.

White Tea will launch in about 250 specialty store doors —including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York —?in late March. "We’ll open slow and follow a limited-distribution strategy," said Ruscio, who noted that the fragrance could be in as many as 400 specialty and department store doors by yearend 2003.

While Ruscio wouldn’t comment on projected first-year sales for the brand, industry sources estimated that the fragrance could do upward of $4 million at retail in its first year on counter.

Sampling will be a big part of the campaign. At least 500,000 samples are slated, as are at least 75,000 mailers and 100,000 in-store pieces, which reinforce both White Tea and Green Tea. National advertising is not currently planned.

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