Tea Rose was launched by The Perfumer’s Workshop around 1975, and in my mind it is forever associated with that era. It was part of my regular fragrance rotation for many years, along with Diorissimo and the original Halston.
It was a very popular perfume at one time. Nicole Kidman made a bit of a stir by wearing it to the Oscars in 2004 when she had just been named the new face of Chanel no. 5, but otherwise you don’t hear about it much these days. I can’t remember when I stopped wearing it, but I do remember buying Yves Saint Laurent Paris shortly after it was released in the early 1980s, and at that time, it would certainly never have occurred to me to own two bottles of perfume featuring the same floral note.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that it has been many, many years since I smelled Tea Rose. The notes are said to be bergamot, rose, lily, tuberose, cedar, rosewood and sandalwood, but to the extent that the notes ever matter, they certainly don’t here. The glory of Tea Rose was that it smelled exactly like a bouquet of roses, fresh and unadorned, nothing more, nothing less.
I remember it as very bright, almost effervescent; but it is bright only as long as the top notes last. It has its charms as a rose fragrance, but given the competition from my current collection, it doesn’t impress me as it used to. After 30 minutes it smells rather flat and uninspired, and a tad more synthetic than I remembered. It is unimaginable that it has not been reformulated since its introduction, but whether it has changed or whether I simply have a bad memory (or a more discriminating nose) I cannot say.
One way in which it is certainly true to the original is in its strength. For an Eau de Toilette, it is very, very strong. I hope I had the good sense in the late 70s to apply it sparingly. One spray is just plenty, thank you.
Over the years, The Perfumer’s Workshop released a number of variations on Tea Rose, including Tea Rose Amber, Tea Rose Jasmin, Tea Rose Musk, and Rosebud (a sheer version), but I never tried a single one, and for that matter, I don’t know how many of those are still in production. You can still find them online. Tea Rose itself is widely available online at discount prices, and turns up at TJ Maxx every so often.