Russian Tea Ritual by Masque Milano (2014)

Here's the new creation by Masque Milano - got my sample from a friend who got it at Pitti Fragranze some weeks ago.

The opening of Russian Tea is, roughly said and with all respects of differences, Bois d'ascèse with green tea and menthol, which kind of gives you the feeling of a someone chewing a chewing gum while smoking. Or a chewing gum left in an ashtray. Or, in terms of perfumes, Geranium pour Monsieur meets Bois d'ascèse. Nonetheless, all works perfectly, managing to sound quite new despite the similarities: there is this great clash between the black angular linearity of the ash-woody notes (a thick, smoky, dense Iso E Super galore) with the sour, crunchy, and still somehow angular feel of the green-mint notes. On top of that, just a faint echo of flowers providing a subtle silky feel to an otherwise quite dry blend - and a smart hint of immortelle providing its peculiar and fascinating sort of boozy-earthy note. On the base I also detect some suede, and at the very center, something slightly fruity (I read "berries" on the sample). Pretty much it. And total class, if you ask me. As hours pass the similarity with Bois d'ascèse (or similar scents) progressively decreases, Russian Tea becomes quite more woody and leathery still keeping a nice, more and more subtle green-fruity-floral feel. The name fits the scent perfectly, as this is indeed a cold, somehow grey, decadent, but at the same time archaic, dusty, evocative scent. I think of Russia, but quite a post-modern idea of Russia, with archaic traditions still being protected and maintained in a cold war atmosphere. It speaks of tea leaves and samovars, but also concrete and ash dirt. Which gives you a melancholic feel of suburban domestic warmth and sense of safety and community provided by this "ritual" still being retrieved among a sea of concrete and pollution fog (I admit my knowledge of post-cold war Russia is limited to Kieslowski's movies). Besides impressions and associations, however, Russian Tea is indeed a sophisticated, unisex, versatile dark scent, perhaps too woody or dry for someone, for me it's purely refined and utterly pleasant. One of the nicest new scents of 2014 composed by one of the very (very!) few noses to keep an eye on these days – and provided to us by one of the very (again: very!) few Italian niche houses I personally respect. Bravi!



  1. I had a sample of this for a few days and was mesmerized by the most wonderfully aromatic but dark and smoky scent wafting up.The juxtaposition of the aromatic,dark and smoky,and the bittersweet/fruity is a masterstroke.Even the mint note at the top avoids the usual toothpaste cliches.Needless to say I ordered a bottle soon after :) I also own Montecristo which I adore and Tango is on my radar.Masque Milano is truly an innovative house to watch and is such a breath of fresh air in the overloaded field of mediocre niche perfumery.Having been in Russia and having a Russian girlfriend I can attest to the importance of the tea ritual in Russian culture.This is the first perfume to capture it in all it's facets from historical to modern.I'm enjoying your reviews immensely and this one is spot on.I especially like your observation of the linking of the more archaic Russia with the post modern one.I love perfumes that tell a story and this one truly does.You've added another facet for me to examine.Bravo!

  2. Thank you really much Robert. Your insight is shorter but far better than mine, so, "more bravo" to you too!