Surya / Five Darbari

I don’t see Surya incense very often but Surya Trading is another company that specializes in both masala and darbari/durbar style incense. I rarely ever touch dry masalas and my interest in durbar or champa style incense has waned considerably since I started delving into japanese incense, so it’s worth keeping that in mind in terms of my opinions.

Second, my running theory is that it’s possible for American companies to link up with Indian companies to have incense made for them, to be packaged over here and in these cases you tend to find lots of crossovers and similar scents. I will say, however, that the base formula for the five Surya incenses is a little different than I normally expect, a little gummier and sweeter and it does set a couple of the aromas apart from those with similar names.

Undoubtely the best of the five durbaris in question is Surya’s Forest Champa. I’m reminded not only by name of various “forest” resin blends that have a certain sweetness to them. The gums are very nice and spicy and the resulting blend feels rich, although like most champa incenses I notice more and more some occasional smoky, off notes minimal though they are on this one.

Royal Champa may evoke Satya Royal by name and scent in that it’s a very busy, overwhelming sort of blend. Perhaps overperfumed to extent, there are some musky notes to this one that are perhaps way too much. Again, I think japanese incense tends to attune you to a far less volume of smoke, so I found this blend to be a bit cloying.

Like most Indian incense ranges, Surya has a Nag Champa and like most blends of this style, it’s close to indistinguishable from others. Maybe a little on the muted style, like the whole range, the base of the incense is a little sweeter compared to other companies. I find nag champa to be generally a bit dull these days so this one didn’t really register much.

Maharaja is another very common Indian blend that tends to be a more of a spicier and robust champa blend. I fell in love with the Mystic Temple version when I first tried it only to find that subsequent purchases never lived up to the initial experience and now the blend doesn’t strike me as special as it once did. Surya’s version has the green stick like every version I’ve seen, but this is case where the sweet base doesn’t compliment the spice so well, leaving it a bit of a mess.

Jasmine is probably the only other incense in this range other than Forest Champa that I’d recommend. Jasmine added to a champa blend is nearly always pretty distinctive and while this has that obvious note, there’s a bit of spice to this blend that gives it a little more kick. Of course, like the whole range it’s a bit too smoky and overwhelming, but I can imagine champa lovers going for it.

Overall I’d probably recommend the new champa sampler to try out the original Satya Nag Champa or the more high quality Ramakrishnanda or Mystic Temple blends before trying Surya product, but if you’re familiar with the style and looking for more, I’d suggest giving the Forest Champa a try. Besides, this is very inexpensive incense and at the link above, you can order two packages (including a sampler that includes all five of these blends) for $5 and get free shipping, making purchase a very low risk.