Top Ten for January 2011

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2011 be a good one for you, bringing health and happiness, and lots of great incense!

It’s my turn up at bat for the Top Ten for Jan 2011. The top ten can be difficult at times due to the sheer amount of great incense out on the market, and the many personal faves that I have. However, for this month, I’ve decided that the following ten incenses are my favorite this January. In no particular order, they are:

-The Direct Help Foundation Eternal Maiya incense. A lovely blend of sandalwood and patchouli, where the sandalwood provides the expected woody note and the patchouli a light airiness that is both earthy and slightly sweet.

-The Direct Help Foundation Oum Pure Sandalwood incense.  Sandalwood incense done up Tibetan style that has sandalwood and sandalwood oil. The sandalwood and the sandalwood oil are a one- two punch combo that makes this superior incense, one with a truly delightful sandalwood aroma.  This is not high end incense like Shroff’s natural sandal that runs north of $150 USD. This is much more modest incense, but one that still manages to be quite good.

-From Chagdud Gonpa Foundation, Sitar Dorje’s Unsurpassable Healing Incense (P’hul-Jung Men-Po).  This is absolutely lovely incense that ranks right up there with Dzongchen Monastery and Holy Land, in my opinion. Unsurpassable Healing Incense is like a first cousin to both, having similarities to Dzongchen and Holy Land, but is still different enough and with its own character that make it unique. This is another earthy, resiny, floral, musky blend. It’s an “all rounder”, hitting all those aforementioned bases, and has that special mojo that is both calming and uplifting at the same time. Some of the ingredients are aloeswood, white and red sandalwood, frankincense, saffron, valerian, magnolia, musk…etc. The scent itself manages to be both fresh and floral, with a darker resinier base and herbaceous endnotes with a touch of musk.

-Holy Land Grade 1. Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought this once it was back in stock over at EOTA. I’m glad I did, though, as that it is definitely a worthy purchase. I won’t write too much about this one due to the fact that it’s been covered extensively here on the ORS. Suffice to say that this incense that as Mike might say, “has mighty mojo that borders on being mystical.” The scent is darker, muskier, and less floral than either Dzongchen or Unsurpassable Healing Incense. If Holy Land incense was a food product, I’d say that it’s more savory than sweet (if that helps any in getting an idea of its scent and description).

-Mother’s Fragrances Lotus Incense. A singular and linear incense and scent, where there’s no complexity but dang if this isn’t a good one. Slightly sweet, and of course floral, this is incense that is very calming and is a good room scent. It’s one to use when having guests over as that it gently perfumes the room but isn’t overwhelming perfumey or ostentatiously showy.

-Mother’s Fragrances Atma Incense. The Mother’s incense catalog is simply superb, with their Nag Champa line being quite a standout. One of my favorites from their Nag Champa collection is Atma. A delirious blend of various ingredients, with floral notes and sweetness from halmaddi and honey. This is a tough one to describe because so many things are going on, and it’s all going on at the same time, the ingredients are working together and not against one another. It’s a symphony of scent, with lead violin being performed by the lavender, the cello is geranium, piano is vetiver, and the triangle is clove with halmaddi as the composer, and honey is the conducter.

-Hougary frankincense resins. A hold over from last month’s Frankincense and Myrrh review, but when incense is this good, it’s going to pop up continually in a lot of people’s “best of” lists. Bright, citrusy, fresh and fragrant, this is frankincense royalty. If you like frankincense at all, do yourself a favor and get some hougary.

-Duggatl al Oud Wardh Taifi. My favorite rose incense of all time, and one that provides an astonishing authentic fresh rose scent. There are many rose incenses out in the market, but this one stands head and shoulders over them all, in my opinion. Simply gorgeous and a must try for rose lovers.

-Mermade Magickal Arts Faery Call. I don’t know about you, but in the midst of winter, I often dream about and long for spring. This incense brings a touch of freshness and brightness and evokes spring and summer in appearance and scent. Literally garnished with dried flowers of marigold petals, rose petals, and lavender buds, and deliciously scented with neroli and other top notch ingredients, this incense is sure to put you in a cheerier mood and drive away the winter blues.

Shunkodo Haru no Kaori. The name of this incense translated into English means ‘smell of spring.’ Can you tell that I’m tired of winter? 🙂  This is great incense, more subtle than Faery Call, but equally good in its own way. As to be expected, it’s more refined being Japanese incense, with a less in your face scent bouquet. There’s the added touch of aloeswood, which adds that certain “je ne sais quoi” quality, that extra special touch that puts this incense into the category of wonderful.

The above incenses can be found at various retailers on the net. The Faery Call incense can be purchased from Mermade Magickal Arts, and the Sitar Dorje’s Unsurpassable Healing Incense from Incidentally Tibetan Treasures will be going offline from February 7th to March 7th for a site renovation, and will return on March 8th. As such, if you want to purchase the Unsurpassable Healing incense, I recommend that you do it soon to avoid delays in processing and shipping.

What are the incenses that you have been burning lately? Are there any that are your “go to” ones to beat the winter blahs? Chime in and share your thoughts!


  1. Terra Renee said,

    July 28, 2016 at 9:20 am

    Bought two boxes of Unsurpassable Healing Incense today. This stuff is simply amazing, and I honestly think it’s better than Lotus Ground, but to me Lotus Ground is a bit strong. I rolled three sticks around in a bit of lavender oil and let them sit in a sealed container for a few days, and WOW! The lavender oil turns these into something magnificent and far beyond what your initially get.

  2. glennjf said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I’ve been burning lots of a Korean incense called Chui-woon Jade Cloud. I’m loving the clove spiciness of it a whole lot.

    Holy Land Grade 1 got hauled out a couple of times and and relished very much.

    Mother’s Fragrances… been burning the Om and Ganesh, a pleasure as always.

    Dhuni got me up there a few times, the Nag Champa I like but the Khus, Special Amber and Mokska do more for me. I’m drawn regularly to lifting the lid off the box and deeply inhaling the scent from the dhuni incenses inside, such is the astounding waft which emanates at those times.

    Also got into a few more sticks of Pure-incense Vrindavan Flower this last week, an amazing scent, I’m always thinking green and lime, green and lime…

    Lucked out and have been enjoying immensely Hougary (Hojari) frankincense resin and Omani (Hojari) Frankincense sticks both sourced from Ibn Saif Trading in Oman, refer to the review your incense retailer section to learn more, also to Annes December 2010 Frankincense Frenzy post 🙂 Both are wonderful incenses to have at hand and very soon now I’m hoping I’ll have easy access to purchase the sticks, maybe even the resins locally, right here in Oz 🙂

    Duggatl al Oud Wardh Taifi… what can I say, out there on its own, finally figured out how to burn it using charcoal, and what a rush it is to do that!

    Tried a new incense I found available locally… “Tattva” Himalayan Rose. It’s a rose you’d maybe like Anne, maybe Hamid also so if either of you would like to try a stick request my email address off Mike.

    Tattva make a couple other Ayurvedic incenses but they’re hardly there, the Himalayan Rose is the bright shining light from their tiny stable, there’s a lemongrass also,though it didn’t really hit my spot. Either way it looks like soon I’ll be needing a larger or more probably another box for my delicious indians 🙂

    Finally I read a neat book last week…. The Scent Trail A Journey of the Senses by Celia Lyttelton. I found it interesting light and enjoyable reading. A schoolfriend lent it to me, so glad she did.

  3. apsara said,

    February 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    With the electric burner, am able to use incense other than Japanese. Still cannot burn Tibetans, but when heating them, some of the high end ones are quite unbelievable.
    However, even so, i.e. “just” heating them, Oum Sandalwood and Eternal Maya were way too perfum-y for me. I wonder whether TDHF now puts more perfume/oils in their incense, generally. Their Myrrh was also strong and way too much for me.

    • apsara said,

      February 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Have known myrrh resin for a long time, also have myrrh essential oil, and the Myrrh incense that I mentioned from TDHF was not at all like the pure myrrh. Who knows what’s in there.

      • Anne said,

        February 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm

        Hi Apsara,

        According to the Direct Help Foundation’s pdf on their incenses, it seems that they put ‘aloe’ in it. To see the pdf, go here:

        Click to access BOXES%20ENGLISH.pdf

        On page six, there’s a picture of their myrrh incense box, and they mention that two of the ingredients are myrrh and aloe. If you’re really curious about what’s in TDHF’s incenses, you can always try asking them. They can be contacted here using this email address:

        There’s also their website, which is all in Spanish:

        Hope this info helps. I’ve never tried TDHF’s myrrh incense, so I can’t really comment on it.

    • Mike said,

      February 7, 2011 at 8:38 am

      I think TDHF definitely use perfume oils, and sometimes they’re not very good unfortunately. Usually this tends to be in their floral lines like the Lotus incenses. I don’t think their myrrhs smell anything like good myrrh either. Honestly the best thing about TDHF is their beautiful boxes.

  4. Kevan said,

    February 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I have to admit that I enjoy the TDHF Om Pure Sandalwood quite a lot. It’s very mild and gentle, with less smoke than typical Indian sandal sticks and with the added oil to soften and sweeten it, the more I burn it the more I find myself preferring it to things like Byakudan Kokoh.

    Or maybe it’s because I’m so glad to have finally found a Tibetan stick that doesn’t remind me of a campfire and forest mud. (blasphemy! I know!;) )

  5. Christian said,

    February 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Kyukyodo Azusa is one I am burning almost daily. I read about it here and for me, it is the ultimate antidote to SAD (better than a Lightbox) and spending 4 hours a day on multi-leg public transit. I don’t remember who wrote about it, but I thank and bless you every time I put match to stick. A gentle floral with healing powers.

    • Anne said,

      February 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      Hi Christian,

      Kyukyodo does make excellent incense. Alas, just as I finally got around to trying (and loving) their shiun, they go and discontinue it!

      BTW, glad to hear that you found a way to treat your winter blues. Anyway, to all those with the winter blahs, have a cup of hot tea (or toddy if you roll that way), burn a stick of your favorite incense, and dream of the warm sunny days of Spring! And for all those of you in warmer climates at the moment, kindly don’t chime in with how great your weather is! 😉

      • Mark said,

        February 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm

        I’ve rediscovered Ryuhinko this cold rainy day. Very dry and appropriate to the season somehow. I enjoyed your description of Azusa Christian, another all-time favorite.

  6. Hamid said,

    February 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Interesting list Anne. I have a spare tin of Duggat al Oud Wardh Taifi on standby in case I run out……Its a corker. Not one for those who do not like an incense to linger though. It gets into furniture, curtains, bedclothes etc….I am not complaining……

    • Anne said,

      February 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Hamid,

      For rose lovers like ourselves, we must never be without Duggatal Oud Wardh Taifi. To run out, well, that’s simply unacceptable!

      As for the rest of my list, I know how fond you are of sandalwood as well. Why not try out the Direct Help Foundation’s versions of sandalwood incense? I think that they’re quite nice. Best of all, 50% of the proceeds from the sales of TDHF incenses go to worthy nepali charities. Oh, an additional bonus is that the incenses come in beautiful hand painted boxes that are true works of art.

      • Hamid said,

        February 2, 2011 at 2:50 am

        I will check the Direct Helps Foundation’s out Anne, thank you.

        Another British Asian invention btw is the range of “Balti” dishes….which have been exported to the Subcontinent.

  7. Mike said,

    February 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

    “Suffice to say that this incense that as Mike might say, “has mighty mojo that borders on being mystical.” ”

    lmao Anne, this cheered me up immensely this morning.

    My top 10 would probably be fairly boring this month: Shroff/Darshan, Super Star, Drona, Shanti, Little Woods; Dhuni/Khus, Special Amber. Kind of been revisiting Kunjudo/Encense du Monde’s Prince of Awaji which is better than I remember it. A couple of the Mother’s although I find it actually pretty hard to keep track of which ones, they’re really all so good.

    • Anne said,

      February 1, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Glad to hear that you got a good laugh out of that, Mike!

      Just got my package with the dhuni and shroffs today, otherwise my top ten might have looked a bit different for January…

      Thus far, I’ve burnt a stick each of Dhuni’s nag champa (so *this* is what the old blue box of Satya Sai Baba nag champ smelled liked back in the 70s!), special amber (good, but not great in my opinion – lacks that little bit of “oomphy” caramel sweetness that would have rounded out the edges), and citronella (nice and lemony without being too lemony). Absolutely adored Shroff’s Little Woods, though. I’m now eyeing the other new Shroff additions – oh hell, let’s face it I was already eyeing them before too, I just want them more now!.

      • Mike said,

        February 2, 2011 at 8:13 am

        Little Woods is amazing, I think I’ve burned 5 sticks just over the last 2-3 days.

        I’m not sure what Nag Champa smelled like in the 70s. In the 80s-mid 90s it had a similar aroma to what you’re smelling, but keep in mind that so much halmaddi was used then that the sticks were much more gooey and easily pulled apart than what you’d see in either the Dhuni or Shroff formulation and it was a little sweeter and richer. But what the new formulas have got right is the general scent as I remember it.

        • vinny said,

          February 4, 2011 at 3:50 am

          Hey Mike!
          What of the Shroff series is like the old nag champa , im curious to know?? Another thing what would you rate better Woods or Little woods ??
          Another question Is remember how i told you the NR Rao woods are different , the one packet which comes with perforated “OO”s
          is different from the non perforated packet. Which packet did you happen to have of that ?? I would also like if you could review the Balaji series if you ever get them.
          Thanks this site awesome!

          • Mike said,

            February 7, 2011 at 8:35 am

            Vinny, if Balaji ever contacts me with samples, you’ll see a review, otherwise I’d have to be convinced to buy them. The closest to the old Nag Champa in the Shroff line is their Nag Champa. I’m not sure what you mean rate better than Woods or Little Woods, but there are pages and pages of Shroff reviews you can find via the Reviews Index or Shroff links on the left (or better yet you can find the ones I rate the highest in the Indian Incense Hall of Fame). I’m not sure on the Little Woods package, I’d have to dig up where it is. Thanks for the comment about the site!

            • vinny said,

              February 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

              Rate I mean which one is stronger as an incense. Another thing I asked you and I think you got confused about was the Rao Woods. I found your review of the Shroff Woods a bit vague I wanted more details of the notes.

              • vinny said,

                February 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

                Sorry I messed up the sentence .
                I wanted to know
                1) What are the notes in Shroff Woods , I found the description in the review a bit vague or perhaps there was a review and I could not find it.
                2) Shroff Woods vs Little woods , which would you say is more stronger.
                3) This just came to my mind , the Darshan Flora you mentioned is like the Anand flora series , would you say more like the Anand flora ( blue box) or the Ganesh Flora which , honestly smells like a mens cologne , I dont like it

                • Mike said,

                  February 9, 2011 at 4:41 pm

                  I haven’t reviewed Shroff Little Woods yet, but the notes are fouger, rose, ambery sandal and oriental scents (and that description comes from the company). I think it’s a much finer incense in every way over the Rao one, and after a few weeks I’d consider them quite a bit different. Honestly I don’t think Indian incense gets much better than Little Woods. Darshan is in the same style as the Anands but they’re all pretty different in scent.

                  BTW do me a favor Vinny, it helps if you ask questions about specific incenses one the same pages as the incenses, that way anyone coming after us can get use from the discussion. Thanks!

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