LONDON — Jo Malone London is expanding its perfume offer with the launch of the Rare Teas Collection, a luxury range launching at stores on April 1.
The collection is in many ways a departure for the British beauty brand, as it shifts the focus to craftsmanship and storytelling.
Each perfume is made with handpicked tea leaves sourced from countries including Japan, China and India that are infused using a method similar to that of brewing tea.
In a departure from the signature “Jo Malone twist” — fragrances made from a mix of ingredients — each of the collection’s six perfumes spotlights an ingredient in order to maintain its purity. These are silver needle, darjeeling, oolong, jade leaf, midnight black and golden needle teas.
“Usually a perfume has a top and middle note, but here we are not talking about notes. The tea is in the center and it is only enhanced using some additional ingredients,” said Jo Malone London’s vice president of product development, Céline Roux, who worked alongside perfumer Serge Majoullier on the project.
The Silver Needle Tea fragrance — made with leaves traditionally reserved for China’s Imperial family — has hints of musk, mimosa and rose. The fragrance built around midnight black tea contains vanilla and labdanum, meant to intensify the tea’s oriental characteristics.
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Other highlights include the Jade Leaf Tea scent created using leaves from Japan’s Sencha Ariake region and enhanced using sesame and pomelo and the Golden Needle Tea, which is now created from a special type of black tea, picked exclusively during the last two weeks of March.
The idea for the new range came about in 2010, when Jo Malone London created a collection inspired by the British tradition of afternoon tea, with light fragrances inspired by the traditional menu, such as cucumber and Earl Grey. Roux said she decided to find out more about precious teas from that point onward. “Similar to wine, the soil, climate and country of origin can produce different types of teas some of which are rare to find, but this is not as known to the public,” she said.
The process of sourcing the teas and creating the six perfumes took four years, given that the scents chosen did not previously exist in perfumery.
“Currently, our consumer world is so quick that it feels great to go back and do something that’s based on craftsmanship and requires time and effort,” said Roux.
Infusing the fragrances involved dipping the tea leaves in alcohol, with the results depending on how long they were left to soak. “We played with different timings to create character,” she said.
Infusion times ranged from 10 hours for the lighter white teas to 100 hours for the smoky black teas.
A new bottle has also been designed for the collection, featuring a black metal cap and the same minimalist lines for which the brand’s signature bottle is known. This is the first time Jo Malone London has created a new bottle for its perfumes in 25 years.
The fragrances will retail at 240 pounds, or $346, for a 175-ml. bottle, higher than that of the brand’s classic perfumes, which range between 42 pounds, or $60, and 85 pounds, or $122.
Jean-Guillaume Trottier, Jo Malone London’s global general manager, said there are no immediate plans to extend the brand’s luxury range, with the Rare Teas collection a stand-alone offering.
“It was a four-year process, a new approach and most importantly an authentic journey so we would like to allow our Rare Teas Collection to take center stage,” said Trottier. “Our fragrances have always told the story of their ingredients and the preciousness of the rare teas themselves made them perfect for this elevated collection. We wanted to make heroes of these rare ingredients, to frame them, and to allow their stories to unfold. We aimed to celebrate the craft of traditional artisanal perfumery but with a modern sensibility.”