Tennendo / Hana Set / Rose, Lily, Lavender, Violet

To date we’ve managed to cover all of the available Tennendo incenses except for this floral gift box set, an attractively designed and fairly massive set of four floral incenses which straddle both traditional and modern tendencies. Each scent is represented with well over 100 sticks in four slots that have an inner sleever and outer sleeve to keep all the incense snug no matter whether you store the set horizontally or vertically.

All four incenses seem to have a very similar in base in common and only vary by way of color and whatever floral and oil content “flavors” the base. This base strikes me as being made up of binder and lighter woods, perhaps something like a cedar and inexpensive sandalwood mix. It gives each incense something of a traditional grounding so that these don’t exactly match up with the more modern styles you’ll find more readily. Although it fetches a fairly expensive price, it’s safe to say that it’s unlikely you’ll need to restock this for a very long time, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the total stick content approaches 500.

The Hana Rose immediately had me crosschecking my memory with recent Indian masalas, most of which strike me as having a far more authentic rose scent, however you trade this authenticity for delicacy and restraint in the Hana version. The bouquet seems to be made up of other elements and often comes across more as a general floral aroma than a pure rose one, but as such it has a surprising complexity for an incense at its price with a mix of flower and slighty berry-ish elements. And most importantly, there are no off notes or bitter subscents interfering.

The Lily might be the most successful of the four and comparatively it’s the most exotic of the bunch. The green color of the stick reflects the verdant snappiness of the top perfume as if some of the building blocks were patchouli or even green tea. Overall I think this scent most closely matches the flower it represents and it succeeds in that it’s not too uncommon to find bitter and offputtting lily incenses, however on the other hand, the most superior scent of this type is the expensive Encens du Monde Blissful Mountain and the Hana version is a far cry from it in both scent and price. But the two do share a certain woodiness at core, implying most of the scent comes straight from the oils.

The Violet is similar to the Lily in terms of being a perfume on wood scent and it may be the woodiest of the four incenses here, either that or it has the most fleeting and mellow perfume. As the base seems to bury the floral scent, the stick doesn’t evince the type of gentle subleties that make a fine violet incense (as is notable in, say, Shoyeido’s Floral World series) and while the finish isn’t unpleasant, it’s also not very notable.

The Lavender also suffers from not being terribly reminiscent of the real thing, although one might argue that in a floral set the aim was to bring out those aspects rather than the more pungent aroma of pure French lavender oil. However because of this possible compromise the scent ends up being a little too close to synthetic home deodorizers, a hazard that befalls many generic florals. Not that it’s bitter or soapy, Tennendo is generally too classy a company to not avoid those pitfalls, but it might have been more successful had it been called something else.

As a whole the Hana set surely wins on presentation, but on incense it will entirely pivot on the tastes of any particular consumer. In fact one has to classify the incense here as being fairly low budget, especially when you divide up the cost of what is a very large bulk package. It’s unlikely any will find these unpleasant and floral lovers are likely to have a higher opinion than I, but despite the restraint and class shown here, you’re likely to find greater authenticity in the less pricier Indian masala ranges, although perhaps the quieter and gentle nature of these four will balance the playing field for some.

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