January 22 2010
Lucia van der Post
Miller Harris is a small British perfume house that has gained an international reputation out of all proportion to its size. I have few real perfume addictions, but its L’Air de Rien (created for Jane Birkin) is one that I regularly take on holiday as I love its light, smokey and mysterious air.
Lynn Miller, who founded Miller Harris, has now moved beyond the world of perfume and extended her olfactory talents to a range which she calls The Edit, which she defines as a collection of items that are “beautiful and fragrant”.
She started a year ago with tea. She found that she didn’t like the Earl Grey teas on the market – she disliked the artificial bergamot in most of them and found them too perfumed for her tastes, so she has created her own twist on Thé Bergamont. She uses second flush Darjeeling, a very delicate leaf, and to that she has added some beautiful Calabrian bergamot and softened it with a little green tangerine. The result is a delicate, lightly perfumed Thé Bergamont that may well please those who don’t like most of the existing Earl Grey blends. Then she came up with a rose tea (a Taiwanese white-tipped oolong blended with Turkish rose and geranium from Réunion) and a smoky Thé Fumé blended from a Sri Lankan tea, smoked over cinnamon wood and blended with a creamy vanilla. These all sell for £16 a time for 50g, with tea caddy; refills are £9.95.
Now she has expanded The Edit. She has moved on to fragrant olive oils, infusing some with a citrus bouquet of Italian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, Brazilian orange, grapefruit, tangerine and petitgrain and yet others with what she calls “Sauvage”, a blend of rosemary, French lavender, Spanish thyme and sage from the Dalmatian coast, all £14 for 250ml. These help to add zest to fish, to salads, to pasta, or they can simply be paired with lovely crusty bread.
She has some fragrant, pure flower waters perfumed with flowers from Grasse: Rose Centifolia (£21), Lavande (£17) and Fleurs d’Oranger (£15). Use them as skin tonics, or scatter over linen. Wander into the shop in Bruton Street in London and you can also browse through a selection of rare or re-released old books all about tea, small gardens and flowers. All this is just the beginning of a new and wider fragrant Miller Harris world.