In Edinburgh, just off George Street, at No 41 Frederick Street is the quirky and busy little tea boutique, eteaket. Fiercely passionate about all things tea, the quietly spoken director and founder, Erica Moore and her devoted team are taking on the coffee shops and providing welcome and refreshing relief from the often repetitive world of lattes, cappuccinos and mocca-lacca-frotha-hoo-ha. In a previous life Erica Moore was a litigation lawyer who decided life would be much more rewarding travelling the world tasting and gathering tea leaves. She has been tasting tea since 2006 and travels mainly to China, India and Sri Lanka in her search for eteaket’s array of wonderful brews.
Eteaket opened its doors in December 2008 and aims to rekindle our love affair with tea, drawing our attention to the many glorious varieties of the camellia sinensis plant. Black teas, white teas, herbals, red teas, fruits teas and boutique blends; each tea is a revelation, reminding us how much we take the humble tea leaf for granted. Tea was once smuggled into the country and locked away from the servants, it was that precious. Teahouses were places of intrigue and sedition, gossip and fragile gentility. Drinking your chosen blend in eteaket feels special and miles away from the standard coffee house scene. Served in china cups and with little timers to tell you when to remove the leaves, everything delights the eyes, the palate and to a perfume obsessive like myself, the nose. The air is filled with the wonderful aromas of various teas, a mélange of smoky sweetness and the green grassiness of steeped unfurled tea leaves.
We are a nation of tea drinkers apparently. So at the Edinburgh Penhaligon’s boutique, we decided to talk to Erica and her team about creating a bespoke blend for us to sell in store as we launched our beautiful new solar floral Peoneve, created for us by Master Perfumer, Olivier Cresp. This warm earthy marriage of rose and peony is sensual and gloriously eccentric, with heady violet and vetiver notes. A shot of Hedione cloaks the scent in silver, giving the fragrance the impression of petals catching the sun’s rays.
For the last couple of years I have worked with Ali Gower and his team at the Chocolate Tree in Bruntsfield to create luxury chocolates inspired by our fragrances, but tea was something very new to me. I spent an aromatic couple of hours with Erica, sampling different teas, learning the (very….) basics of tea making, leaves, picking, rolling, brewing, harvesting etc. I talked Erica through Peoneve after spending time with her in store, Fragrance Profiling her, so she could experience how Penhaligon’s talks and feels about fragrance. She chose the sensual tropical floriental Amaranthine, one of our most original and beautiful perfumes, created for us in 2009 by Bertrand Duchaufour.
I have three favourite blends from their range……Chocolate Abyss – black tea blended with real chocolate pieces, cocoa nibs and coconut flakes. Yellow Gold Oolong – hand rolled leaves creating a soft creamy brew with grassy vetiver like notes. My favourite is the incredible Jasmine Pearls, green tea leaves, hand-scented six times and rolled into beautiful tight little grassy balls. When it’s brewed, the liquor is intensely fragrant with buttery, tobacco notes and a delicate smokiness that floats across the cup as you sip.
The final version of the blend Erica produced for our boutique was remarkable. It was important of course that the tea reflected the components of Peoneve as closely as possible. But I was blown away by what arrived on my desk one day. I slowly opened the bag to savour the contents. The look of the tea was important too and the little shards of rose, peony and sunflower scattered throughout the White Peony leaves looked very pretty. I loved the addition of Champagne Jasmine flowers and petit rose buds; they added the most divine aroma as the tea brewed. The mingling of perfume and tea worked beyond my expectations. As I sipped my rose-tinted elixir, I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of the city traffic fade away. I imagined myself in a garden, stretched out in the sun, insects buzzing in the air, a single plane tracing lazy vapour trails in sky. A hazy British summer, blended leaf tea and fine British fragrance, a unique perfumed marriage.
I am thrilled by the results of this collaboration. The Peoneve White Peony Tea Blend is exclusive to the Edinburgh Penhaligon’s boutique and eteaket and will retail at £3.95. So treat yourself or a friend to something special, a fragrant and atmospheric floral white tea inspired by a perfume from one of Britain’s most beautiful and revered fragrance houses.
What’s your favourite tea? Would you like any of our other fragrances to be created into a bespoke blend like this one?