Everything & Nothing (Tokyo Milk)

On a sleepless night, a fun way to pass the time is to play the "perfume party" game. Assign each chosen scent a fictional persona and imagine what kind of host/ess he or she would be. With tea fragrances, it's easy, because the conventions of the tea ceremony are already well-established. All you need to do is supply (as it were) the table settings.

Tommy Girl wears beachy, "relaxed" linens (Armani, $379) as she prepares iced tea (Organic Hunan Gold, $105) for the guests at her Hamptons summer home (3BR/3B, 2.75 acres, $11.5M). Quivering with anxiety, she loses track of how much sugar she's stirred into the pitcher (Juliska Graham, $168, Saks Fifth Avenue) but prays that a big, bright, aspirational smile will cover her clumsy mistake.

Bulgari's Eau Parfumée Au Thé crowd is more genuinely convivial in mood, but operates at a much higher level of decorum. Those who would join these ladies-who-lunch at their well-appointed table at the Carlyle must wear hats, gloves, and "important" brooches just in case Madeleine Albright happens to do a walk-through. (So nice to SEE you again, Madame Secretary!) Be prepared to supply mild, amusing talk about this year's opera season, and for god's sake, don't confuse the Whitney with the Guggenheim like last time. Watercress sandwich, darling?

Tea for Two belongs to a homey subset who eschews public ceremonial in favor of intimate tête-à-têtes on the living room sofa-- or better yet, on the floor, cross-legged among myriad craft supplies. The tea, of course, is chai-- improvised on the stove top with sundry kitchen spices thrown in willy-nilly; served in handmade ceramic mugs large enough to warm both hands. The laughter is uninhibited, sisterly, and sly. Stick around, and there might even be a round of tarot card readings.

Take note that all the fantasy tea parties so far have been reserved for grownups. By comparison, Everything & Nothing is child's play.

At this doll's picnic table, sweet Darjeeling is served in mismatched cups, each with its own old-fashioned orange-flavored candy stick for stirring-- and who needs napkins? Here, one may regress without prejudice to happy, sticky-fingered childhood. (Other hostesses might be scandalized-- but not Anné Pliska, I'd bet.)

So honeyed and exuberant is Everything & Nothing that I almost wonder if it truly belongs in the tea circle. Manners, sophistication, elegance, even spiritual comfort are all proper qualities for tea to project-- but do candy and joy have a place at the table? Well, why not? The tastiest treats, the prettiest tea set, the BIGGEST mud pies-- those are the humble guarantees of this guest list.

Go ahead. Lick your fingers. It's that kind of party.

Scent Elements: Sweet orange, pressed petals, desert moss, tea leaves