I got this as a sample, and as soon as I spritzed a little, before I had even read the description, my immediate thought was "tea and soap!".
And so it is - the top notes are black tea and a hint of citrus, with a base of sandalwood that turns a little soapy on me as it dries down. (That's soapy in a good way - with the lingering lemon scent, it felt clean and fresh, like I'd just stepped out of a shower where I'd lathered up with incense.)
I love that the notes are clear and simple - I find it really satisfying when I can identify them so readily. On another level, I love being able to drink in the individual elements of a scent rather than getting lost in a heady, complex concoction. (Don't get me wrong, those concoctions have their place - occasionally you come across one that's like a whiff of magic, but the layers are so deep that you'll never unravel the secret of what's in it.)
Assam is a black tea grown primarily in the Assam valley in northeast India. It's known for its malty taste and aroma . That smooth, caramelized flavor is why it's often used in English or Irish breakfast teas, so don't be surprised if this scent reminds you of breakfast.
Maison Berdoues is a French perfume house that's been operating out of the Toulouse neighborhood of Paris since the early 1900's. In fact, one of their earliest creations - 'Violette de Toulouse' - is still one of their biggest sellers today. 'Assam of India' is part of their Grands Crus collection, which features scents inspired by fine ingredients from around the world. I'm looking forward to trying 'Somei Yoshino' (Japanese sakura blossoms), 'Selva do Brazil' (woods and greens from South America) and 'Peng Lai' (Chinese osmanthus).
For now, though, one of the things I love best about Assam of India is its lasting power. It gets high marks for sillage - just enough that you can smell it on yourself as you're walking around, but not so much that you're gassing passersby. The top citrus and tea notes took a good four-five hours to fade completely on my skin, and the sandalwood hung on for at least another two after that.
I should point out that I'm very picky about what I buy full-sized when it comes to fragrance. I get decants or samples, sometimes rollers, when I can (and that's probably a topic for another time). I already have a large enough fragrance collection that I worry I won't be able to finish some of them before they go bad, so I try to be judicious about what I add.
That said, this worked so well for me that I've already got a full-sized bottle on the way. The delightful elephants all over the glass are NOT the reason I'm buying (but it's an added bonus that they'll look super cute on my vanity).