CB I Hate Perfume Russian Caravan Tea Perfume Review

CB I Hate Perfume Russian Caravan Perfume

Most of the time when I dislike a perfume, it is because of my high expectations. I expected to love CB I Hate Perfume Russian Caravan. The description and inspiration reeled me in. And what could go wrong with smoky black tea, refreshing bergamot and the nostalgic smell of books? Well, something went wrong. Russian Caravan Tea smells really horrible on me. Like “scrubber” horrible.

Russian Caravan Tea isn’t smoky. At all. This makes me mad. So, yeah, Russian Caravan Tea and I started off badly. I feel like I’ve been lied to. The opening is a super fruity and sour bergamot. I swear I get strawberry and rose in this too. But, really all I get is sour, in a candy way. With some time, I get sweet iced black tea. This tea reminds me of those tea pellets. Which I think smell good, but Philosophy has released limited edition shower gels that smell like this. I don’t expect to pay very much money to smell like instant tea. The instant tea, the part that I can tolerate, fades too quickly. I don’t notice the fragrance at all after an hour, but if I put my nose very close to my skin, I can smell “horse glue”. I suppose this is the “shelves of old books”. But, really these shelves of old books smell like decaying thrift store paperbacks. And it isn’t ironic or charming. It’s too literal for anything I’d want to wear on my skin.

Notes listed include smoked black Indian tea, bergamot, and a hint of shelves of old books.

I know many people that like this fragrance and that is fine with me. This is what makes fragrance fun! Give Russian Caravan Tea a try if you like citrus tea fragrances or fragrance like Bvlagari Thé Rouge, Atelier Oolang Infini, Gucci Pour Homme II, and/or Clean Shower Fresh. If you are looking for smoky tea, then don’t bother with this. I think you will be disappointed like I am. I feel like if Russian Caravan Tea was a person, that it would be the type of person that would lie about their age on their on-line profile.

The 15 ml of the perfume absolute retails for $90 and is available at CB I Hate Perfume’s on-line boutique.  I reviewed the absolute. A perfume water is also available and I have no idea if it is different or not. Rumor has it, that the perfume water isn’t as long lasting.

Victoria’s Final EauPINION – Sour sweet tea with a glue base. Bleh. This is a short lived fruity sweet tea that reminds me of those instant tea pellets. And I hate the too literal cardboard and glue base. And, damn, it’s expensive.

Want more reviews? Try…

Redolent of Spices (a glimpse at Russian Caravan and a few other tea perfumes)

Fragrant Fanatic

Now Smell This

Pere de Pierre

Perfume-Smellin’ Things


Product picture is from CB I Hate Perfume.


30 thoughts on “CB I Hate Perfume Russian Caravan Tea Perfume Review

  1. “Rumor has it that the perfume water isn’t as long lasting.”

    Perfume water is one of the dumbest ideas, ever.

    1. It is. But, I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say. And damn, it’s so expensive.

      Also, when I was like 13 and thought one could just “make perfume”, I’d put stuff (essential oils) in a water base because I had no idea. It looked like water, right? It seems so immature and naive.

      1. I’ve had a pretty close look at these water perfumes; I think he uses a surfactant to get the water & oils to mix – i.e. a drop of unscented dish soap. 😉

  2. I had a very similar experience with CB I Hate Perfume’s Second Cumming, the Alan Cumming fragrance. It sounded so weird, so interesting: “Bergamot, Black Pepper, Scotch Pine, Malt Whiskey, Cigar, Heather, Douglas Fir, Rubber, Worn Leather, Highland Mud, Burnt Rubber, Peat Fire and White Truffle.”

    I, too, was excited for a smoky fragrance, and all I got was a lousy combination of gingerbread and ashtray. Not smoke, but ashtray. Where that gingerbread was coming from, I don’t know, but I really did smell baked goods. And ashtray.

    Overall, I’m constantly disappointed with CB I Hate Perfume. I love the idea of it, and I’ve found interviews with Christopher Brosius fascinating and inspiring. But I’ve been to his shop in Brooklyn at least a half dozen times and I’m always disappointed.

    The best I can say is that I love CB93, his geranium classic cologne, but it doesn’t last more than an hour in the water version. I agree with Brian, water perfume is a dumb idea.

    1. Harry, I got the exact same thing from 2nd Cumming. It was like being at grandma’s house. My grandma used to be a a very heavy smoker, ashtrays everywhere, but man, she could bake.

      I do find him very interesting but I have yet to find a CB perfume that I like. All are too vapid for me, too light and not what I expected.

      1. Yeah! And as long as we’re venting about CB here, nearly everything I’ve smelled of his — and he has tons of scents if you include his individual accords — has the same undertone note to it. I can’t place it, but he must use one base for almost everything. AND he’s raised his prices tremendously over the last six months or so! CB93 used to cost $65; now it’s $90.

        1. Let it go 🙂 I completely understand. It’s the price increase that has me gasping. With many of the CBs I get something very bitter/sour.

  3. I haven’t tried any CB I Hate Perfume’s. I did find Christian Brosius’ inspriations interesting on the BBC Perfume Series: Bottling the Memory, in partticular his technique for developing the bespoke “England” fragrance for Sean Crowley. He is certainly creative, when I think of “The Memory of Kindness”, tomato leaf is not the first thing that comes to mind.

    1. He is very interesting. I’ve sniffed Memory of Kindness and it was very pretty and very much a tomato leaf in the bottle, but I have never worn it on my skin.

  4. I have the water perfume of Black March and it lasts for hours on me. It’s definitely a “spray til wet” scent, but if you do, it goes on for a good 8-10 hours on me.

    1. That’s good to know. I have no experience with the water perfumes.
      I haven’t tried Black March. The description sounds good, so I’m scared. Already raising my expectations…

      1. I forgot about Black March – it was the first CB thing I tried a couple years ago. It is actually good; smells a lot like fresh soil (but it’s this weird ‘deconstructed’ thing that sorta comes together as soil… kinda like the way Nahema works structurally.) I enjoy sniffing it but not sure why or when I would ever wear it. Some people (DianaWR 😉 like it a lot.

        1. Yeah not going to lie, I wear it all the time. I like to layer it with Jo Malone Red Roses, too, but it’s good in its own right. I’ve also used it as a method to sell people who aren’t super into fragrance or cosmetics on the idea that they have a really narrow view of what scents are actually available. It usually works, but then I live in the perpetually wet-earthed PNW. 😀

          1. A wet earthed rose sounds divine. I can see the appeal of wanting to smell like soil. I’ve always liked Demeter Dirt for that reason. I need to try Black March. So far, all of the CBs I have tried have been too tart or “fresh” for me. I like dirt. Burning Leaves smells good but I don’t think I could or would ever wear that alone. Wouldn’t a burning leaves incense be cool?

  5. Hi! What a surprise to see my blog mentioned in your blog post. Thanks 🙂

    I do like Russian Caravan Tea, especially the citrusy intro, but I do agree that there is no smoke in there whatsoever. I’d liked to get more of that as well.

    About the water scents, they do not last for very long. For me that is not much of an issue as I like to change scents 5 times a day but I can understand that people get annaoyed with this as the CBIHPs are pretty pricey.

    1. Hi Sigrun, thank you for providing your opinion and I enjoyed reading your review.

      I feel my disappointed me with this was my expectation. I expected something smoky, black, etc. If it was marketed as a refreshing citrus-tea, I think my opinion would be different.

      The prices of CB have went up like $30. I think that will have people thinking more before they by. I feel like people put up with the fleeting stuff at the previous price point. I don’t know now.

  6. I agree. RCT is nothing like the description! Despite that, I like it. I find it a calming fragrance – soothes me when I’m irritable.

    Will I buy a bottle? No, I don’t think so but I wouldn’t mind having a few ml.

    1. Like I said, it was a game of expectations. Maybe I’d like it if it was described as a citrus tea.

      It’s really expensive now.

  7. One thing that’s become amazingly clear to me based on this thread — my threshold for what constitutes “really expensive” is waaaaaaaaaaaaay different from other people’s.

    1. Haha, well, my definition changes weekly. It depends on my mood or how “wealthy” I’m feeling.
      And I have this weird system. Like if it wears for a long time, then it can be more expensive. I also do this tentative cost per use. Like if it is a “fall” fragrance, I’ll wear it more. Citrus fragrances will get the least amount of wear, so even if they are $75, they are “really expensive” for a citrus. I need to do a post on this. I think all of our definitions are different 😉

      So…because CB doesn’t last long, there’s a strike. And since this is a citrus, there’s a strike by my silly little system.

      1. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about a personal system. I had the same reaction to the price, and I’m not completely sure why. I think part of it has to do with lasting power: why should I pay this much for something so fleeting?

        Another part is this: CB’s stuff went up by, what, almost 50%? It’s the price increase that makes us all complain about the price. We knew it wasn’t always $90 a bottle, so now it seems really expensive in comparison.

        On my blog, I’ll occasionally do a post on the price of making a cocktail. For instance, if you have to buy all of the ingredients for a Manhattan, your first one will cost: whiskey($25) + sweet vermouth($6) + Bitters($6)= $37. For example. It gets exorbitant with some more obscure ingredients, and it’s this initial cost of additional ingredients that makes me hesitate sometimes to try new cocktails. And if I can’t use that other ingredient in lots of other things, it’s even less appealing.

        With fragrances, I think many of us have a similar system. If it doesn’t last long, that’s minus one. If we can only envision wearing it at night, minus another one. Only certain seasons, another point off.

        So I’m a little annoyed at DianaWR’s point. If I had unlimited money, cost would never be a factor in my fragrance habit. Personally, I’ve never paid more than $120 for anything, and at that price it hurt. I’m not rich and this is an expensive hobby. In the world of fragrances, sure, $90 is a pretty average pricepoint, but…

        1. You and I sound very similar when it comes to price. I have a system of “Victoria dollars” and I don’t pay more than $150 for any perfume in “Victoria dollars”. If you don’t last, add $50. If you are what I call a “summer” scent, add $50. If you bottle is shitty, add $50. If it lasts, subtract $50. If it is a “fall/winter” scent, subtract $50. If I like the bottle and actually want it in my collection, subtract $50. So, even if a scent retails for $160, it may be $60 in “Victoria Dollars” and a $90 fragrance may become $190 in my system. It’s all about price per use and my definition of quality.

          Saying all of that, I rarely buy full bottles and I own many decants. I can’t afford full bottles of everything I want. Nor do I have the space. And realistically, I’m a fragrance blogger. It’s all about the thrill of trying new things. Sick, yes. But, when I add a FB, I really think about it.

          And we’re all adults. We know what we want to do with our money. I never judge people on what they choose to buy or how much they spend. I know my personal limit. I’m a serious fumehead but I have other priorities in life too. Maybe one day, I can buy more expensive things without thinking about it, but right now I can’t…and won’t.

          *And I read your blog too and love it. And I also hesitate to try new cocktails because of the price. Some of that stuff is so expensive. Wish it could be decanted!

          1. So this is part of why I hate the internet. I’m not wealthy. I’ve never been wealthy and never will be. I once saved up for over two years to buy myself a very special bottle, and I bought it at a heavy discount. My comment was more aimed at me and my own surprised at my tolerance than anyone here. I usually feel like the person with the least money among perfume bloggers, so this was a surprise.

            That said, I mentioned above that I have had very good experiences with generous sprays of CB I Hate Perfume. Using the spay-until-wet technique, the water perfume usually lasts all day on me. And the price really doesn’t bother me, because I always though $60, compared to other comparable lines, seemed very low. $75-90 for 100ml seems right where it should be, particularly compared with other lines (Random sampling: Tauers are $125 for 50ml, L’Artisan is $90-125 for 50ml, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes are beautiful but very expensive — too expensive for me sadly — and By Kilians are $125 for 50ml, Bond No. 9 is $150 for 50ml.) Given the market, I think the move from $60-80 to $75-90 is about right for the general market.

            So I guess what I’m saying is, without any judgment at anyone but me, is that in Diana dollars, a scent that I love and lasts all day on me? Worth $90 easy.

          2. I completely understand. I don’t judge people and their purchases. This is perfume and it’s all about enjoying your self and bringing something special into your life. Your CBs do that 🙂 I know that you aren’t going crazy and spending yourself silly buying perfume. I know that you think about your purchases (and perfume). I love to read your thoughtful posts on your blog.

            The CBs increased in price not because of ingredients, but because of packaging. I think most of the CB fans that I have talked to like the new look, but have told me in conversation that they’d be happy with the old packaging at the old price because they could purchase more from the line. I wonder if the new packaging will attract a new type of customer?

            I’m also very jealous of people (in a good jealous way) that can wear perfume and it lasts. My skin is dry and “eats” perfume 🙁

          3. Thanks! Do you live anywhere near Portland? Clyde Common, a Portland bar, is legendary in the cocktail world. The head bartender there, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, started the trend in creating cocktails in large batches and aging them in the sort of oak barrels used for aging wine or whiskey.

            But back to fragrances. I love travel sizes. I’ve found that many niche brands make them but don’t publicize it. It’s how I got Musc Ravageur. By Kilian does them, and so does Histoires de Parfums. And when I discovered Perfumed Court, I got really excited. I’ve never bought more than a sample size, but I’m intrigued by the possibility.

          4. I live in the Seattle area, but we go to Portland every 6 weeks or so. I need to head on down there for a cocktail excursion 😉

            I love travel sizes. The packaging is pretty and the amount is good enough for me. The Musc Ravageur travel size is next on my list. Actually, take that back, after Borneo 1834. And having perfume pals is great. We’re so generous and love to share/make samples from our bottles.

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