Mystic Temple / Agarwood, Cedarwood, Chandan Champa, Frankincense, Patchouli Champa

The first time I tried Mystic Temple Cedarwood was just after purchasing some at a store of Haight Ashbury in the 90s. At the time this line was by far the best incense I’d ever gotten to try and I spent months doing my best to stock up on all the great scents they had. But like all great incense companies, the change in ingredients meant that all the recipes slowly drifted and changed until a great deal of the Mystic Temple line is more on the same level as, say, the Nitiraj Aromatherapy incenses. Of course Mystic Temple’s line is much larger so there are still plenty of really great incenses to check out, but I’m always hesitant in reviewing them because I feel like the recipes could have changed since my batch. This sampling of five incenses really only relates to what I still have and haven’t reviewed yet.

Agarwood is a comparatively newer scent, and it’s so close in aroma to the Pure Incense Absolute Agarwood that one might assume the Mystic Temple is also Madhavadas family sourced. In fact it’s so exact, I’ll just refer you to that review. I’d only add the caveat that it might not be quite at the Absolute level (some of those faint and neat camphorish touches aren’t in this one), but it’s still quite close.

The Cedarwood of a decade or so ago was a green stick, the current version is brown. Where the old version had a bewitching, sweet and Himalayan cedarwood oil, much higher quality than any current cedarwood I could mention, this version is dull, more in the pencil wood direction, and rough, like it has a lot of cheap benzoin in it. In fact it’s almost more loban-like than cedar-like. It’s not unpleasant but if you want this style check out Pure-Incense in this case.

The Chandan Champa really surprised me upon revisiting it, my previous impression was that it was fairly generic. It has a superb sandalwood oil on top and it makes the incense. It had the crystally high end scent of old mountain wood on top of a basic champa aroma and it works nicely. Curious to see if this is the same as it has been a while since I bought this (and it’s aged really nicely, something I can say for several MT incenses). Anyway this is well worth investing in, in fact I can’t think of another sandalwood heavy champa with so true an oil. But beware, as times have changed.

Mystic Temple’s Frankincense is the standard Indian frankincense masala, also possibly Madhavadas sources. So this review is still close enough to be true. It has the usual cocoa/chocolate notes this type of masala usually exhibits and a frankincense that’s nice but not quite like the resin itself. Anyway this is virtually interchangeable with Triloka, the Pure Incense and others I’m not remembering at the moment.

The Patchouli Champa used to be a very distinctive champa but for some reason it also has been switched out with a lesser incense in the last decade or so. The scent used to have a really strong patchouli component with a slightly burned-like tinge to it. Here it seems missing or fading and it exhibits that almost crayon-like scent some synthetic champa incenses have. There even seems to be little in the way of patchouli in it at all, unless they were going for a lighter scent. Unfortunately there’s something off about this one now, the smoke seems astringent, as if synthetic elements are at work, and the aroma has little personality.


  1. John Gensler said,

    July 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    If you would like a great Patchouli, in Indian masala incense, try Mystic Temple Patchouly Leaves. The incense was purchased direct from the manufacturer of Mother’s Incense in Pondicherry, India. 10″ sticks.

  2. John Gensler said,

    July 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Chandan Champa is still the same. We haven’t changed anything and have cases of the sticks to last for years. I had a supplier that didn’t want it, so I bought his entire lot.

    Patchouli Champa hasn’t changed. Still using the same formula. However, raw Patchouli oil has gone up 5 times in the last few years, so the current formula might not have as much Patchouli in it as before.

    We are really at the mercy of suppliers. We aren’t big enough to demand any specific quality from anyone.

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