Kaqyudpa Monastery/Drikung Charitable Society – Red Crystal & Dhundup Wangyal – New Red Crystal

In reviewing Blue Sky a few weeks ago, I’d thought it might be Drikung Charitable Society’s only incense, only to realize that they were responsible for the plentiful and abundant Red Crystal incense, something of a mainstay of your local new age or yoga supply store. I’d take it some of this is the price difference, with a big box of Red Crystal costing you about a third a box of Blue Sky. The other element is there’s been some confusing copyright or claims staking surrounding Red Crystal, giving way to a new and completely different incense formulated by one Dhundup Wangyal called New Red Crystal. And of course there’s the Boudha line, all of which are roughly similar in style and use the same graphics boxes and sometimes even text as Red Crystal and kin.

Red Crystal itself is something of a budget classic among Tibetan style incenses. It’s one of those worth growing into, I remember thinking its tobacco and alkaline hints were quite offputting at first, until I’d gone through about half a box and it got under my skin. For one thing, whatever’s red about this incense is more in name, although the sandalwood colored stick does have a very slight tint in that direction. Sandalwood is the operative ingredient here, and not only does the incense smell of a decent quantity but the quality is quite good as well. It’s a very thick stick, nearly a club, and it has a very subtle and slightly dangerous level of spice in it that ranges from the abovementioned tobacco and sage to light hints of cinnamon. It’s a subscent that really starts to impress after a while, the incense’s cooling qualities and fresh sandalwood winning you over after a while. It’s one Tibetan style incense in the lower ends perhaps worth shelling out for in a shop, although one’s nose will take a bit of time adjusting to it.

New Red Crystal (drop down one item on the above link) isn’t nearly as distinctive and the comparison is fairly unflattering given the stick is obviously more in the evergreen/filler wood direction. Fortunately it goes for a Dhoop Factory/Alpine like scent with it, meaning you do get a bit of harsh wood as a backdrop but also the same woods’ better, high altitude freshness and slight resinous qualities as well. Strangely it also smells a bit like Drikung’s above-mentioned Blue Sky with hints of raisins, berries and a dash of cinnamon. I can imagine liking this one more after getting used to it as well, provided one’s own catalog isn’t full of incenses similar to this.

I’ll likely be referring to these later when I tackle the trio of Boudha incenses, which are all in the same regions as these two, using similar packaging but managing to be their own animal(s) too. Red Crystal’s kind of a classic in its own way, well worth a sample at the least. New isn’t always better, as they say, but lovers of woody and fresh high Himalayans might want to give it a whirl as well.

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5 Comments

  1. Damien said,

    September 6, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    My recent purchase of Red Crystal from TIBET A GIFT (via Amazon) is very enjoyable and perhaps my favorite Tibetan incense so far.

  2. S.dadul said,

    August 9, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Yes. It is true. I have bought some red crystal in Delhi which is far better than the one I bought in Gangtok in terms of quality. But the one available in shops in Gangtok are much cheaper. However, the quality is horrible. Can I buy the original online?

  3. moendie said,

    August 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Red Crystal – Meditate with the right hand patern, it puts you alone in a stone cave, extraordinary !!

  4. True Lhamo said,

    March 2, 2011 at 12:08 am

    The New Red Crystal Incense is a duplicate/fake version of the original Red Crystal Incense manufactured by Drikung Charitable Society-kagyudpa Monastery of HE Ayang Rinpoche in South India and not Boudha region in kathmandu. The ingredients used in the original Red Crystal is no comparison to the fake one whose ingredients contain mainly of saw dust from timber mixed with some perfume.

    Since the name, style, graphic and texts of the box (trade mark) of the Drikung Charitable Society is legally registered(copyright) in India and the Red crystal Incense being the best tibetan incense available in all of India, Bhutan and Nepal, this person by name of Dhundup Wangyal is manufacturing it without the knowledge and permission of the Drikung Charitable Society. If his incense was good in quality as the Drikung Charitable Society, why not create his own brand name instead of copying the same name and packaging of another incense? In India, most people and shops already know that there is a fake Red Crystal Incense. The original Red Crystal Incense can be identified by the hologram that has the logo of Drikung Charitable Society. The Hologram too is copyright.

    • Lama Zopa Tarchin said,

      October 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you for the information. I mistakenly bought the “new” Red Crystal” thinking that it was the same. Big mistake, the “new” stuff is cheap and of the poorest quality. I will never buy it again. I’m sure many others have been duped into thinking they were buying the “real” Red Crystal made by the Drikung Charitable Trust.


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