Mona di Orio’s Bohea Bohème is today’s Advent calendar scent. As soon as I dabbed it on my wrist, I thought, “Mmm, incense?”. It’s not really an incense scent, but it has many of the facets that make up a good incense, such as resins, fragrant woods, spices. It is built around a tea accord that evokes Bohea oolong tea from China, which is smoked with pinewood; a few floral notes are added (iris, osmanthus, geranium). The complete notes list on Fragrantica is: bergamot, cardamom, Florentine iris, chamomile, balsam fir, boxwood, geranium, black tea, juniper, smoke, oak, sandalwood, beeswax, bay leaf, benzoin, vanilla absolute, poplar buds.
That last one is unfamiliar to me; it is said to bring “a peculiar balsamic green and bitter-sweet scent” to a fragrance. It turns out, though, that I’ve encountered it before, in Tom Ford’s Vert des Bois, which was one of his quartet of green fragrances launched in 2016. Bohea Bohème was also launched in 2016, but was created by a different perfumer, Fredrik Dalman, while the perfumer who created Vert des Bois is Olivier Gillotin. Cafleurebon’s interview with Fredrik, linked above, is well worth reading; he is Swedish, though traditionally trained in France, and he prizes the scent of cardamom, a common ingredient in spiced Swedish recipes (I myself make an excellent Glögg, a Swedish mulled wine, with cardamom, using a recipe that was handed down through the family of a Scandinavian friend). The interview also includes his hilarious story of dressing up as Santa for the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur, the company where he was apprenticed to master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. He went back upstairs to the lab on his break to continue working on a formula before returning to Santa duties, and was found there by his startled mentor.
I am loving Bohea Bohème! It is masterfully blended, so that the floral notes emerge slowly as the spicier opening fades. The notes list on the brand website is shorter than the one on Fragrantica: Black tea oil, Florentine Iris, Blue Chamomile, Poplar Bud Absolute, Fir Balsam Fraction, Smoked Juniper, Oakwood absolute, Beeswax Absolute. I love spices in fragrance, but there are some I can only take in very limited quantities (cinnamon and cloves, I’m looking at you!). Bohea Bohème is perfectly spiced, and it feels to me like a perfect holiday fragrance, with its combination of cardamom, balsam, scented wood, and a smoke as gentle as candlelight. Truly, as the website says, it is a “luxurious woody fragrance with a balsamic vibrato, unconventional and seductive.”
Do you have any favorites from Mona di Orio? Also, don’t forget to join me and my collaborators tomorrow for “Scent Semantics“! We have a particularly nice holiday word and reflections for you.