First of all, I must refer Basenoters to the excellent and comprehensive review by Zealot Crusader.
My first reaction was to the name itself, since the Bulgarian Rose is a Damask variety and not of the Tea Rose variety, immediately confusing the issue in my brain. A look at the very simple note tree alleviates that problem in that the tea in the name does not refer to the variety, but to the addition of green tea to this formula.
Second reaction is that green tea was not a perfume ingredient back in 1890 when this supposedly debuted, which puts to the lie the date assigned by Creed. Zealot Crusader clears this up in noting that what I have here is a 2000 recreation of the original scent, not the original 1890 formula.
Whew! Now on to the scent itself. While so many reviewers find this to be a deep, dark, rose scent, I do not. I find it to be a light and refreshing rose with a slightly sharp center, and to my nose it is not Bulgarian Damask, but a real tea rose I am getting. Tea rose is unique in its combination of an apricot roundness with a sharp rose note and very green under notes. I know Damask and I know Tea and what I get here is the impression of a true tea rose, not a Damask, Bulgarian or otherwise.
I did get a passing whiff of green tea in the opening, but it disappears quickly. There may be Bulgarian Damask rose in the mix, but is not the scent I am experiencing at the heart of this creation.
So, I am as confused now as I was before I opened my decant. Still, all in all, it is a superb rose, although quite linear. As an indication of its strength, I never get the one base note, Ambergris, which is usually so prevalent in all Creed creations.
A beautiful rose, which by whatever name it wishes to go by, still smells as sweet.
I tried this before 2007 so my thoughts of it are from then, and whatever formulation was current. I know that it was reformulated around 2009, and lost some fans because of it.
It sounded like perfection to me, everything a Pisces would like. And I did. Yet even though it was a wonderful watercolor version of rose - light, lilting, wet, clear, unpowdered - there was something about the rose-green tea combo that I began to tire of. It was surprisingly long-lasting, so that winsome, delicate aura was backed by the unsettling feeling of being grabbed and held by vines. It was still an authentic smelling rose, without the hairspray of mainstream roses, so I liked it well enough to buy a decant or two.
It was well-modulated. The old-style citrus top was mild in tone, in keeping with the entire fragrance and the green tea provided a vague mossiness that at first appealed to me. I liked that the drydown was a light, non-musky watery ambergris gray echo of the entire fragrance.
But as I started considering whether to buy a bottle, two things convinced me otherwise - one was that I didn't quite care for the green tea-nuanced rose accord enough for the cost (the taif rose, which is fairly green, isn't my favorite rose presentation either), and secondly the Creed positioning. It was only available in 250ml bottles, and it was my first encounter with being required to deal only with a decant. So I realized it wasn't a must-have. I passed on it, and didn't really regret it or miss it as I have others. I found rose fragrances later that make me happier. Another pretty nice green-tea rose at a fraction of the cost is Paul Smith Rose, which has a violet-tea top instead of the citrus.
It's still a nice classic green-tea rose (or was in 2007) if this style appeals to you, but it was by no means smashing to me.
Creed Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare (2000) often gets confused with Fleurs de Bulgarie (1980) because both are centered around rose, but while the latter is more in the Damask vein with green elements like galbanum to sharp it some, Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare is decidely more old-fashioned with a focus on tea rose over ambergris. Creed doesn't produce pre-filled atomizers of this like most of their popular lines, so you'll have to go whole hog and buy a 250ml flacon, which isn't a ton more expensive than what Creed normally retails for, but to those who never usually pay retail for their Creed, poses a considerable investment. The story behind Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare is similar to Fleurs de Bulgarie as well: a rich woman during the Victorian age writes whichever Creed patriarch was supposedly running the boutique at the time, asking for a realization of her experience with roses afer a honeymoon abroad in Europe. The key difference between this and the claimed original 1875 "vintage" version of Fleurs de Bulgarie is that the latter was supposedly commissioned by Queen Victoria herself, while this was commissioned by a former First Lady of the United States, which history does not corroborate since no US president from that era ever took a spouse on a honeymoon in Europe anywhere near the year given for the release of Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare. My opinion is that Creed gets a bit rosy-cheeked (pun intended) about its own in-house floral absolutes, and loves to tinker with them every so many years, which is why there are so many "fleur or fleurs this or that" in their catalog to begin with, and it's this interest in experimenting that gives them their one legitimate connection to the niche perfume world.
Nonetheless, Creed's penchant for historical re-writes don't deride the quality of this scent, even if the 2000 date of "re-release" is really just its actual debut year. Whether historical re-creation or just an homage to the style of the period, Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare is an extremely naked representation of rose, and even more naked than Fleurs de Bulgarie, Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose (1973), or L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque (1983), which are among some of the most pure treatments of the flower I've smelled. Tea rose is carried over a dry cloud of bergamot, lemon, and mandarin hesperides. This trifecta of unsweetened citrus keeps the rose bouyant without adding too much else to it, although a small puff of Chinese green tea adds a delicate botanical facet which implies a garden more softly than the usual galbanum note would. A touch of jasmine hedione is also present, which further argues the credibility of the 1890 claim as hedione wasn't chemically isolated from jasmine until Edmond Roudnitska started using it widely in the mid 20th century. The base is ambergris, pure and simple. Some doubt Creed still handles and mascerates their own ambergris anymore, and while it is likely cut with high-quality synthetics in more-mainstream releases like Aventus (2010), here ambergris is present in all its harsh, pungent glory. You won't find ambroxan glow or norlimbanol scratchiness here, nor the syrupy composite "amber" note that many confuse for a proxy of ambergris. In fact, the ambergris itself is so strong and unfettered under the rose that it is the most challenging aspect of Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare. If this was worn at the turn of the 20th century, it must have been one Hell of a serious entrance.
A rose this pure, this dry, and this emboldened by the earthy smell of ambergris is not one that will find an appropriate context in the 21st century, yet Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare is Creed's best-selling Private Collection formula undoubtedly for the quality of such a presentation. This is a true rose lover's experience but even as a rose nut myself, I cannot say this is anywhere near a Holy Grail for the genre. People who like rose will be tested by its directness, and people who hate rose will subsequently hate you on days you wear this around them, as Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare is about as unapologetic a rose fragrance as it gets without dipping into rose oud combos from the Middle East. The price this commands, the difficulty in procuring it, and the nuisance of needing to decant it into atomizers yourself (which Creed will be glad to sell you separately for a premium), means that I can only recommended Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare to the hardest of the hardcore among either Creed or rose fans, but it is a wonderfully fundamental rose ambergris perfume all that notwithstanding. Rose is usually unisex to my nose, although conventional men used to their aquatic citrus woods and amber tonka stuff will probably find this girly, but decants are sold online for the exceptionally curious. Phoney history or not, Creed always knows its way around florals, and its representations of rose are always impressive, just not always the friendliest. Thumbs up!
The opening presents a dark, herbal and deep rose as its core. No light sweetness here. On the other hand, a mandarin with whiffs of lemon bring rays of brightness into the top notes. Very nice.
The drydown adds a pleasant jasmine, but, more significantly, it also adds a dark herbal undertone reminiscent of the leaves and the stems of the roses. Additional, dark and toasted green tea impression develops gradually; a bit like a Japanese hojicha.
All this merges seamlessly into the ambergris that is so characteristic of Creed. And this ambergris is beautiful: rich, harsh but not too pungent and complex - spot on!
I get moderate sillage, excellent projection and a stupendous longevity of seventeen hours on my skin.
This autumnal rose - suitable for day and night - is not a pretty rose, but a dark, broody and spicy representative of its genre. A rose with a kick. And with excellent performance 3.75/5.