Wara Monastery Incense

So I have a new favorite. I stumbled across Wara Monastery Incense in Incense-Traditions.ca’s Tibet Monastery Incense Collection #2. First of all, this is not what I would call a user-friendly or accessible incense, not in the least. When I first lit a stick it reminded me somewhat of Dzongsar Monastery Incense. Dzongsar has something (Incense-Tradition.ca has tagged this pungent) of a note in it I find hard to describe that isn’t super friendly to my nose and I actually grabbed another sample of it to check it out again. I never grew used to the Dzongsar. I would have described it as somewhat funky, even if in many ways it’s one of the deeper Tibetan monastery incenses. However, a similar, more subsumed note in Wara actually works really well and is not overpowering (I’ll also say I noticed this more in the sample in the collection than in the roll itself).

But I mention this first because Wara is really a very different incense. For one thing it seems to have probably the largest amount of noticeable agarwood content than in any Tibetan incense I’ve tried (or at least something approximates it very well). No, don’t think that these long thick sticks are similar to Japanese incenses, but if you can think of a somewhat less expensive but noticeable aloeswood resin scent, this has it as a rather strong front note. It is a very dark, woody incense. I’m not sure any other Tibetans quite compare with it, even if the blend certainly seems to have notes of juniper, cedar and rhododendron in the mix. It also apparently has sandalwood, but to my nose this tends to sit under a lot of the other scents. I liken the overall blend to something like black licorice in a certain sense, but that is just one of a number of notes that spiral from repeated usage. The unburnt stick has a whole layer of spice content that is also a bit difficult to describe because it burns a little differently, but you can definitely sense the saffron and some spices roughly in the nutmeg/mace area. There’s even a bit of this that has more cooking-like scents to it, like a slight masala touch. Honestly, the whole scent profile of this is just amazingly complicated and is likely to keep any deep diver busy for months. I made sure to stock up hugely on it because lately I burn a stick or two every day. I’m just so fascinated by it. Highly recommended.



  1. Josh Matthews said,

    July 10, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Just got this one and love it immediately – a real olfactory tour de force. I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you what I’m smelling but very deep and very enjoyable. This is like Holy Land’s dark, brooding sister, and has rapidly become one of my favorite Tibetan incenses. Maybe I do smell that agarwood type note Mike mentions – there’s a dense, dark woodiness inside this one that doesn’t seem to just be the spices nor sandalwood or juniper etc.. Fine job, Wara Monastery, this is some beautiful art here..

    • Mike said,

      July 10, 2021 at 11:22 am

      Really glad you dug Josh. This has been my absolute runaway #1 favorite incense since soon after I bought it. It is incredibly addictive and has such a unique aroma that even after finishing my first complete roll of this I’m still guessing what’s in the fragrance. Holy Land’s dark, brooding sister indeed. Oh and here’s another early tip, the regular Drigung Fragrant Incense. If you want one that will wobble expectations of what you’re smelling this one is it – it almost smells like a civet cat got loose and yet the description is that it’s totally vegetarian. Very reminiscent to me of the original Highland stick of so long ago and heartening that some of these monasteries are hitting musk notes without animal ingredients. Tibetan monastery incenses may be the most fascinating on the planet… https://incense-traditions.ca/shop/tibet/tibetan-monastery-incense/drigung-fragrant-incense/

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