Kyarazen posts a more or less monthly digest of informative articles, covering everything from fine tea to fine agarwood. I found this months to be most informative and timely, covering the two obvious lines of soil agarwoods on the market, as well as in depth information and pictures of what you should be looking for when you put large amounts of money out for wood which in many cases is coming from 1000’s of miles away with a “no return” policy. The article clearly points out how to tell the difference between what used to be traded as opposed to what is being sold in the last few years as meager copies. While many incense users only notice this as a decline in the quality of the incense stick they used to love, it was most noticeable in the quality of wood being sold out of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and today, even from Japan as the last of the old logs are consumed. While I got to see only a sampling of this decline during my 25+ years of trading in the wood, it is hard to beat Kyarazen’s view from Ground 0, so to speak, in Singapore, as well as the vast amount of research that he has done over the years. I really appreciated seeing the pictures of what is no longer possible to obtain (barring a lottery win, inheritance, etc.), as well as concise and easy to understand information. The article can be read here http://www.kyarazen.com/soil-agarwoods/
I have been asked quite a bit recently about the content of the musk in the present stock of Tibetan Incense at Essence of the Ages, and I would like to take this chance to clarify the issue, as well as why it came up. I recently received a box of samples from China, by request, of the better known high end Tibetans, well known in the past to have contained musk as an ingredient. I love burning a partial stick of same to start my incense enjoying day, as I find that it seems to clear my nose, or at least put my head in the right place. Imagine my shock when I found that the Holy Land and Nectar(priced over there higher than the Holy Land), as well as the Highland, which as we know lost its musk sometime ago, appear to also now be devoid of any musk. The person sending me this box had just returned from a 3 month buying expedition throughout China and Tibet to stock his shop. The remaining stock that Beth has at EOTA was purchased over 1 year ago, and I and my wallet can personally attest to the fact that what she has contains musk in good quantity. Sorry for you lovers of the Lotus Ground, but the supply of that is now gone and it is unknown when supplies will be restocked(it took over a year and a half last time). The Mindroling sticks are also all gone, so your best bet for a touch of musk may be the few remaining boxes of Holy Land, Nectar, Samye, or the powders. I wouldn’t count on anything new coming in being quite so good.