Colin Maillard's Review of Russian Tea by Masque

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. On the base I also detect some suede, and at the very center, something slightly fruity. Pretty much it, all about black and green. Total class, if you ask me. Russian Tea brilliantly mixes a heavily synthetic modernity with organic, and somehow "primitive" suggestions. 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 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 indeed, but quite a historically "recent" idea of Russia, with archaic traditions still being retrieved and maintained in a post-cold war atmosphere. Besides suggestions, 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. The only couple of defects I'd point out are that the menthol note gets kind of annoying after a while - not for the note itself, but because of the juxtaposition with the woody-ash-leather notes, which is quite a "daring" juxtaposition to me; and a sort of artificial, rubbery-dry feel on the drydown, which is almost normal these days in this type of woody-leathery scents, I guess because of the aromachemicals being used (and still I can't come to like it). But apart from these, as I said, it's a great scent, composed by one of the very (very!) few noses to keep an eye on these days – and one of the very (again: very!) few Italian niche houses I personally respect. Bravi!


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