What an odd scent this is. At first, Thé Brun smells actually quite as a faithful, vibrant, extremely pleasant representation of some traditional Chinese tea (I thought of the Oolong, too). Genuine dark brown leaves out of the bag. Quite a complex and really vivid structure of earthy, pungent, dry nuances blended with an uplifting fruity-herbal-balsamic heart and some really mild sweet-vanillic-floral nuances. Now, the odd part is that to my nose there’s at least two other major accords which smell at the same time perfect, and completely random; a really bold, fairly cheap and almost acrid sort of musk-hedione base (sort of a damp, grassy, slightly milky and extremely musky accord with a hint of pungent fruitiness) and a greyish, ashy-rubbery note, quite synthetic as well, the same exact kind of ashy-mossy rubberiness found in Bulgari Black, or in several works by Rasquinet (notably the MiN NY line, or Bois d’ascèse). It’s a dark grey, dusty, salty yet slightly camphorous feel similar to ambergris (on fire) which for some reasons, goes just perfectly with the brighter earthy-herbal tea heart of the fragrance and the sort of “lactonic” musky-green accord - which is quite bold as well, with also nuances of tarragon and bamboo (and some woods too, but I can’t detect them in detail). I know it may be hard to imagine how Thé Brun smells overall, and in fact it’s quite a unique and complex blend – not necessarily a good thing (but well, it kind of is here).
So basically, for me Thé Brun smells initially and for quite a while, like a sort of intricated hybrid between something like O de Lancome pour Homme and something like Bulgari Black, both gravitating around a grey-brownish balsamic heart of woody-earthy dry tea leaves. Quite fascinating overall, honestly a bit screechy but for some reasons, with a really peculiar and overall fascinating feel of “something smells wrong, but I can’t stop sniffing it” (most surely it’s the fruity nuances meeting the rubbery-ashy ones causing that). It feels like a bizarre mosaic of diverse inspirations – the archaic heritage of Oriental tea, the smell of a moldy grass field under the rain, and a whole range of artificial smells of rubber, ash, dirt, damp wood, wet concrete. So well, now that I think of it, it may make sense to connect these inspirations and imagine a shabby suburban teahouse in some desolated Chinese metropolitan district. Somewhere you can still drink an excellent cup of tea, just not in a postcard setting, but rather sitting in front of a crippled window looking at uncultivated grass bushes erupting out of an abandoned parking lot. I’m not entirely sure whether Brosseau wanted to evoke such a forlorn post-communist atmosphere, but it’s still better than the usual Oriental clichés in perfumery.
Anyway, back to the actual smell: pretty linear for a while, until the grassy-herbal-tea heart progressively vanishes and on the other hand, the ashy-musky base becomes warmer, gentler, in a way absorbing the top notes as if the whole tea-herbal stuff evolves and disappears as a result of an “infusion” among the base notes. At this time some of the screechy “oddness” is gone, and Thé Brun gets surprisingly refined and soothing, with a discreet smoky-musky presence with a sprinkle of amber yet still a bit grassy and balsamic, lasting quite long and projecting just fine.
I’m not entirely sold, but this is surely quite worthy a sniff.