Miscellaneous Incense Goodness/Coming Soon etc.

This week (and most likely next week) I’ve got a few reviews ready for writing up: Baieido Syukohkoku, Shoyeido Floral World Royal, and a number of Korean incenses, four premiums and sampler notes on several others. Coming soon after this, Kyukyodo – Ryuhinko, Shiun, Yumemachi, Shoyeido Xiang-Do part 2 (eight fragrances), Shoyeido Premium Kyaras (Sho-kaku, Myo-ho, Go-Un), Daihatsu – four sandalwoods, and a multitude of Tibetan incenses, including Tibetan Medical College, Dzongsar, Highland, Snowland, Tashi Lhunpo and many others. Massive goodness in this group.

Some of these Tibetan incenses have had a major impact on my appreciation for that style of incense, as I believe some of these are among the very best to be exported here. I’ve come to the impression that most Tibetan style incenses, particularly those one finds for under $10 are heavily leavened with cheaper woods, often cedarwood and while this isn’t in itself a terrible thing, it doesn’t give one fair warning for how intense some of the incenses that aren’t so leavened really are. I feel in love quickly with the Tibetan Medical College Nectar incense only to find the Holy Land blend from the same college was even more impressive. Just like high end Japanese aloeswood incenses (and most of these high end Tibetans are at least 10% agarwood), these are scents that stay with you a long time after burning. Most of these will need some growth time to properly absorb. One in particular, a very thick, hearty Tibetan stick called Dzongsar is so full of Chinese medicinal materials that, very much like the Highland, it’s very potent in fragrancing a room with very little. I’m constantly smelling this one well away from my incense collection.

But what I really wanted to mention, were some very affordable Tibetans that while not being quite high enders should definitely be quite appealing. Starting at the bottom of the page here, and continuing on the next page (7) are a number of related incenses, all of which come in the traditional bamboo holders. The Traditional Mandala Incense is not terribly far from other cinnamon and clove heavy spicy Tibetans like Yog Sadhana or the Mandala Trading Tibetan Monastery, with a stronger evergreen content, it has that very cooling feel to it common to spicy and evergreen Tibetans. Nirvana A and Nirvana B, made by the same company, appear to be very fragile sticks, both bamboo holders turned up lots of stick fragments (unlike the Traditional Mandala which also seemed to be wrapped as a bundle within the holder). However the brittle nature of the sticks seem more a part of the incense’s composition than the age, and the scent on both is fabulous. Nirvana A is the woodier of the two, due to the kapur but the nagi and jattamansi spice it up quite a bit. There’s green streaks on some of these sticks almost like from a marking pen. Nirvana B is close to the Traditional Mandala with plenty of sandalwood and a bit of agur too, I found this one increasingly attractive as I burned it. I’d also suggest adding the dollar or so for the silk coverings, they’re very nice and do help close off one end of the bamboo covering once opened.

The Boudha line was mentioned in earlier comments here as having the same packaging as the Red Crystal and New Red Crystals. After sampling some of the incenses, I’d say that it’s more than just the packaging, the Boudha Tara incense, was so close in scent to Red Crystal as to be more than just a coincidence. However with that said, both companys do appear to have different addresses, but the Tibetan script on the back and some of the descriptive language are so close that there has to be some link between the two. Perhaps Boudha is the new Red Crystal? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Boudha Riwo Sang Chhoe is the New Red Crystal, both have the same very pale, woody color to them.

Based on the Natural Arogya-Karmayogi blend, this series of five incenses looks to be more impressive than their generous prices. Like the Mandala Trading Tibetan Monastery and the above mentioned Traditional Mandala Incense, the Karmayogi is a spicy blend, except here it’s leavened with a very fresh lemon sort of scent not terribly far off from the Himalayan Herbal Center Blue Sky blend. very cooling and Himalayan, it makes me curious to try out the full line.

It does remind me, that one of the difficulties of Tibetan incenses is getting the incense out of the very tight packages. While one could just as easily tear off the wrapping and unwrap the ropes/strings that tie the bundles together, that often comes with the price of not having a container left to put them in. Most of the time I usually spend minutes trying to coax one stick out of a very tight package. Occasionally this means broken fragments and such. I’m not terribly fond of the bamboo containers, one of end which you will need to tear open to get at the contents, leaving me with the wish I had a cap left to put over the end.

Anyway that’s enough from me this morning….


  1. Mike said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I should probably say I’d forgotten I’d written the original post here, so sorry if I repeated myself a bit. 🙂

  2. Mike said,

    February 5, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I quite like the Nirvana trio, although I didn’t get a single batch that hadn’t broken into dozens of pieces and actually were quite brittle so I think you got lucky there. 🙂 On the other hand that doesn’t particularly bother me as I often break long stick Tibetans up, so no big deal. The silk coverings that you can buy with these (they come with and without) are quite nice too, probably the only way to truly seal them I guess.

    My guess is agur is just another spelling of agarwood, btw. Although like with many Tibetans it’s not particularly noticeable with this one.

    I’ll be reviewing these sometime this year along with the Traditional Mandala incense, which might be the best of the four. Nirvana C is particularly bizarre, it smells like good Mexican food, so I definitely get your masala like comparison with the B. I definitely think these all use pretty good ingredients and are quite unusual, a step above low end Tibetans, without quite reaching the high ends.

  3. Claire said,

    February 5, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Nirvana Incense B – Himalayan Herbs Centre

    This comes in a sturdy bamboo tube. This is great for preventing the incense from getting crushed (all of the sticks were intact in my tube and they weren’t particularly brittle either) but, unfortunately it does nothing to prevent it falling out as there is no way of resealing it once it is opened.

    This produces an average amount of smoke for a Tibetan style incense stick.

    I must confess that I am unfamiliar with some of the ingredients (agur and dakurua) so I will just describe the way it actually smells to me.

    I’ve never tried red Thai curry so I could be way off the mark but that is the first thing that came to mind. It’s definitely got a red smell to it and a sour note too. It smells a touch peppery. The aroma I describe as “fresh saw mill” is also present. I detected what smells like both fresh spikenard essential oil and the musky smell that is achieved by adding the plant itself to a blend.

    I’m laughing at myself now as this was one of my rejects to be added to the Incense Trading Circle box, but on revisiting it now, it is a lot nicer than I remembered it. Funny how they can grow on you (especially after testing a revolting smelling incense)!

  4. Mike said,

    August 5, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Yeah there definitely has been a lot going on and that’s even before “real life.” But I wrote today’s post more as a stream of consciousness thing, coming off of a weekend nearly living with the Tibetan sticks and just realizing how many great scents remain hidden. And I only managed just a fraction of what I still have yet to report. And yeah, it’s been fantastic to see so many people commenting over the weekend and joining in, with so few resources out there, everyone’s opinions are basically resources and the feedback so very welcome.

    The one stick out boogie LOL. I think it’s something that becomes more exasperating when you do it a lot. Unlike with Japanese sticks you do tend to have to get used to broken fragments, since so many are like that before they’re even opened. I chalk it up to the amount they’re trying to put in one box, to say the least most Tibetan stick counts are low (like high end kyara sticks, high end Tibetan incenses are often on the nose).

    I can’t believe I didn’t rave about the Lung Ta line again. That Drib Poi is just amazing, and the whole line is much better than the inexpensive prices suggest.

  5. Steve said,

    August 5, 2008 at 11:24 am

    My toughts exactly, Mark! There must be a koan to be wrapped around this somewhere 😀


  6. Mark said,

    August 5, 2008 at 11:21 am

    ARRRGGGHH! There must be a better way to package and store Tibetan incense. Maybe it’s all part of the Buddha’s plan to show us the futility of existence.

  7. Steve said,

    August 5, 2008 at 11:19 am

    An ambitous and busy few days in the works for you, Mike, by the looks of this entry – and am excited to see what you come up with. There’s a lot you plan to cover that is of great interest! I can appreciate the time required, as I’m sure even this entry writeup took a few hours. Am glad also to see there are more contributors, it seems, to the community!

    Got a good chuckle with the Tibetan packaging/1st-stick-out boogie 😀 Certainly maddening and an ironic start to what is supposed to be a relaxing enterprise! Have come to the conclusion the tight, multi-colored strings must be cut or lose the game of tug of war with 2-inch fragments to show for it 🙂


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