Black Tea by Murdock (2010) is not really a tea fragrance in the sense of what you may expect from one, but it is very nice. Murdock London is sort of a late-coming entry into the arena of old-school Victorian-styled UK luxury barbers, likely taking the spot that Penhaligon's relinquished when corporate owner Puig closed their last remaining barbershop location and fully converted the age-old barber/chemist/perfumer establishment into a full-blown upmarket niche perfume brand that banks on its legacy. With Geo F Trumper being the only other real competitor in this antique barber/chemist/perfumer market, Murdock London was poised to quietly take over for Penhaligon's and spread across London from its original Shoreditch location. Now Murdock London, which is not exactly a carbon-copy operation of Victorian barbershop tradition, does clearly add some modern twists to classic tropes, and that's really evident with Black Tea. Of the Murdock fragrances, only two really turn up scenting the brand's shaving and grooming toiletries, with the flagship scent Avalon (2010) adorning all the shaving products and Black Tea being used to scent the body wash, beard shampoos, and some of the hair groom products. Therefore it stands to reason that if you're a fan of these products and want that finishing touch after using them, you should probably own both of these, with all the other standalone fragrances being purely optional.
Avalon is a crisp modern exercise in a traditional berbershop eau de cologne, while Black Tea comes across like a traditional barbershop "Cuir de Russie" style birch tar leather heavy on goodies like clove, but retrofitted with modern base materials and touches. The actual tea note here is slight, and really only shows up into the late dry down if I'm to be honest. The opening is clove, nutmeg, basil, black pepper, and a stiff almost metholated type note, in other words very properly British. This bracing beginning lingers into the mid and eventually curls back to allow a dry birch tar leather note to emerge, being a little sour and a little tart, but eventually sitting atop more modern musks like cashmeran and woods like Iso E Super. I get something that feels like cypriol in the base too, and maybe a pinch of vetiver and patchouli. Tea only appears near the end, and really by that point you've focused on the leather and aromatics anyway. The whole thing falls short of a superlative like "stunning", but wears well for quite a long pace, although if you layer this up with the body wash you can push this wear time into nearly a day. By itself, the mysterious concentration of "British Cologne" will go 10 hours with modest projection and low-key but noticeable sillage. Best use is as a daily driver if you use the products, or just as a work scent here and there if not, being very neutral in context appropriateness. Black Tea is just a clean and piquant masculine smell, period.
Complaints if I could make them would be that this kind of leathery dry style has been done a lot by modern niche brands, and with Murdock London scents generally being exclusive to places like Nordstrom in the US with no discounts to be found online, $115 to smell like this may seem a lot when there are tons of options. You sort of have to be all-in on the Murdock brand with ownership of the adjunct scented products to really find value in this fragrance, as Black Tea just falls a tiny bit flat once you start looking into tea fragrances (or even other leather fragrances) around this price point. Also the packaging feels a bit confused to me, since you get this nice coffret presentation and then the bottle housed in a drawstring cloth bag within the little depression of the coffret, but the bottle itself is very generic in a utilitarian way. The cap is heavy metal like a niche product, and the label has this industrial printed look a la Le Labo, which looks both cheap and somehow "hipster chic" all at once, with "British Cologne" beneath the name. At least the sprayer is nice, with a pressurized feel like Dior Sauvage (2015) that lets you control the sprays. Still, if you love British barbershop traditions and don't mind a bit of an import premium or some modern subversion here or there, Black Tea by Murdock is a mostly reasonably-priced scent that makes more sense as part of the grooming range, but by itself is serviceable enough to pass entry-level niche muster. Thumbs up
Oh dear, a "Neutral" against a sea of "Thumbs Up" reviews. Wrecking a perfect score I have to say I sense no tea at all in Murdock's Black Tea, at least in the first few hours. To begin with it is very extroverted, and sadly a very "uni-sex" if not feminine parfum, not unlike the strong smell certain ladies wear along with a long black furs; heavy makeup; and, very red lipstick that imprints itself with deep creases on cigarette ends. Afterwards, but in fairly short order, it takes on a more masculine clove-leather-wood mix that develops into a fairly decent but rather anonymous, i.e., not terribly distinctive, fragrance with a good but conventional structure that we have smelled many times afore. It's nice enough but reminds me of several of the more exotically-named Penhaligon offerings. Perfectly all right surely; polite and capable is the best I can say. A mild "tea" note makes a timid appearance late in the day, by which time the scent has become very much an introverted skin scent, and the tea can only be discerned with the nose close to the wrist. It would be harsh to give a negative review, so I will say "maybe" and try to like it more later, but so far, a month's effort seems to be to be a good length of time to assess a fragrance. Maybe one day I will smell what others smell, who knows?
Tea for two ? Years ago as a little boy I distinctly remember me and my great grandfather going to the barber....I'm talking old school barbershop...Tightly cropped up the back, meticulous pumping of the chair to get just the right elevation so that my great-grandfather would get the perfect cut....Hair was well blended much like this fragrance...The experience always ended with the "finale" as I called it...My great-grandfather would be tilted back in that squeaky dilapidated chair that had been there for 30 years prior and carefully prepped for straight-razor shave...I can still smell the shaving cream that was carefully whipped up with that authentic Badger haired shaving brush and layered across my great-grandfather's face....The barber would carefully pull the blade across the grain of the beard and did it oh so gently...I can still hear the sound it made which was equivalent to light sandpaper scraping against a slab of wood... And then there's Murdock's Black Tea.....Now, I've never been to a UK barbershop and don't claim to be an expert in the barbershop arena but this scent smells like my grandfather after a nice, clean shave. Its got "pure gentlemen" written all over it...Clean, fresh, refined....oh and classy....SOOO classy... It opens up exotic, spicy....but SOOO dry, almost like a gin and tonic with fizziness that tickles your nose with pleasure...fairly linear all the way to the end but so what.....I likey ! According to their website MBT offers top notes of clove from Madagascar, nutmeg from Ceylon, basil from Egypt and pepper from Paraguay middle notes of the most masculine leathers base notes of Musty Woods, Musk and Birchtar....Its one of the best tea notes I have ever smelled and I must confess I was a skeptic and for me to drop 170 bucks on something blind, some would say I was an idiot, but I had a gut feeling about this...I don't grab the nutmeg or cloves too much but the basil is outstanding and seems to be the one note, along with the tea note, that my nose seems to distinguish...Its not sweet at all, but dry and lovely...Clearly, you can wear this anytime of the day or season and the only gripe I would add to this review would consist of longevity and sillage...I personally don't get many hours with this amazing fragrance...I want it to last and last but alas, it tends to die before its time...Now it could be due to olfactory fatigue but if thats the case, I want to kick my nose's ass for shutting off way before its time...I could smell this one forever.... I could be the only one in the US that actually has this fragrance, but all I know is if the barbershops over in the UK smell like this, I might just drop 4k on a plane ticket to fly over there to hop into one of their chairs over at Murdock's...Its phenomenal....Do I regret spending 70 dollars to have it shipped over here from the UK? Hell to the "no" ! It was worth every penny and then some... This one gets two nostrils up...Pros: Fresh, Refined, deliciousCons: short-lived"