Himalayan Herbs Centre / Blue Sky, Lumbini, Tashi Dhargey, Lumbini

For what are relatively inexpensive and wood heavy incenses, Himalayan Herbs Centre don’t do too bad a job with their incenses. They don’t have the herbal power most Tibetan sticks do at their price and have wood bases that occasionally come off a bit harsh in the mix, but occasionally what’s added to these bases actually lifts the incense above what normally be the case. They don’t all succeed in this way, and seem to have about a 33% hit rate, at least based on the four of eight incenses I’ve managed to try for the company, but those (maybe 1.5 roughly) that do hit are quite nice. In this same category of hits, the incense is quite a deal with a large number of sticks and a holder all just under $4 and occasionally less during a sale.

Blue Sky is one of the line’s best incenses, described as a traditional stick of lemon and herbs. The stick is blue and unlike many incenses the lemon hints actually work quite nicely here as part of a blend. While there are some slight metallic hints in the blend, possibly as a byproduct of the base, the overall sweetness and accessibility of the herbal mix renders it a note, one which I don’t find unpleasant in small quantities (in the same way earthy and funky notes actually add something when they’re not overprevalent). It’s quite a pleasant, inexpensive incense and certainly a good deal for the price.

Lumbini adds sandalwood to the herbs, with the emphasis on the latter. It’s less a woody incense than a musky one with what seem to be hints of amber in the herbal mix. The sandalwood content doesn’t seem to be too high and in this case the cheaper base is a little too revealed, which ends up clashing a bit without totally devolving the scent into the poor category. if anything it leaves the overall scent a bit thin, and the sandalwood doesn’t seem to be at a high enough quality level to really give it some middle.  It’s not unpleasant ultimately, just fairly pale in impact. That is, it’s more of a good incense in smell than in aftertaste, so to speak.

Unfortunately with Tashi Dhargey it could almost be the trademark of a poor, cheap Tibetan incense. This is the sort of woodbased scent where the evergreens come out harshly with that overwhelming scent of gravel and tire rubber coming out without an herbal base to balance it. It’s not terribly far from Lumbini, due to the amber, overtly mentioned this time in the ingredients, but where Lumbini had some balance, Tashi Dhargey is just far too woody for an amber incense, and this is coming from someone who likes nearly every amber incense ever created.

Yaan is an herbal musk blend, yet like most of these incenses has a bit too much cheap wood for that to work. The musk is of the sweeter herbal variety and thus lacks the depth of the genuine article, which would probably have drowned out the harsher aspects of the wood here. It’s not that the herbs are particularly absent here and the incense even has some spicier elements, but that crushed rock, gravel and clay like smell coming from the cheap wood is just a bit too poweful to be subsumed. Other than Blue Sky this is probably the mellowest of the lesser incenses, but it would still be difficult to recommend, mostly because one’s available choices in Tibetan incenses are so much larger.

I haven’t really had the urge to explore the line more based on the four here, which is possibly due to having tried the best of these, Blue Sky, first, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised to hear there are one or two more than manage to overshoot their materials. They’re unquestionable in the lower tier of the style due to the harsh wood bases but do manage to transcend these in at least one and maybe two cases.


1 Comment

  1. January 9, 2009 at 10:28 am

    […] from last on page),  the home of Ayang Rinpoche, for example, is completely different than the Himalayan Herbs Centre version and generally far more deluxe, with a higher content of quality […]

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