Boudha / Riwo Sang Chhoe, Tara, Tara Naga Lokeshor

Boudha Tibetan Incense neatly crosses the divide between Nepalese and Bhutanese incense. With only three different incenses being sold, the statement that the incense is made by a small family in Nepal seems to only apply to the third of these incenses while the other two also seem to be made in Bhutan and given the style and consistency of these two, I’d say they’re rather definitively Bhutanese in that so many Tibetan style incenses from this country have an almost plastic like consistency and strength.

Boudha Tibetan Incense also uses the same type of packaging, artwork and in some cases even some language akin to the original Red Crystal incense. Although they’re apparently different companies altogether, it’s difficult not to make a connection between the two in not only the packaging materials but in the scent of the incenses. Perhaps the middle incense is the closest in style, but again the big difference between the two is Red Crystal is a very traditional Nepalese incense and Tara incense is certain Bhutanese. So it all gets a bit confusing to say the least. Overall, however, you’re not likely to find superlative quality work here, in both price and scent these incenses are ultimately mediocre.

Riwo Sang Chhoe Incense is created from so many different substances, including microsubstances from gold to coral to cat’s eye (let’s assume we’re talking about a stone here), that any meaningful notes are more or less submerged in one very Bhutanese blend. Unlike a number of Bhutanese incenses with this sort of tough consistency, Riwo Sang Chhoe is the typical tan color rather than pink or red, however, it’s still fairly close in style to the midrange of Nado Poizokhang’s graded incenses. While the production and artwork is reminiscent of Red Crystal, the incense itself lacks that scent’s more sagey and tobacco like herbal notes leaving it mostly in the inexpensive sandalwood range. It’s rather tough to quantify, there’s a bit of spice at work and a bit of juniper berry in there somewhere, but overall it lacks its own personality.

Tara Incense is a bit closer to Red Crystal, although the consistency remains Bhutanese and the stick not so thick. Unlike RSC, this does have some wilder herbal notes in the mix and the more overt sandalwood feel is submerged into something less expensive with that slightly alkaline tang common to low end Tibetans. Overall it’s fairly dry and also not unlike Nado Poizokhang except for the tan color, but it also doesn’t have quite the same character. In a blind scent test it would take a fairly careful nose to tell this one apart from the RSC.

Tara Naga Lokeshor is much shorter and less expensive and moves solidly over into Nepali fare with a more brittle consistency and a darker brown color. Made with 108 different ingredients one will wonder why the necessity of such an endeavor when the end result is largely woody and inexpensive smelling. For the most part I get binder, cheap sandalwood, juniper and cedar in there and only a faint hint of anything else. It’s actually quite harsh overall which is typical for the very low price range.

Unfortunately it’s difficult to recommend any of these incenses in that it’s fairly easy to pick out others close in style that have more personality. Although Nado Poizokhang is quite a bit more expensive, it’s also a lot more savory then the two Bhutanese sticks here and Tara Naga Lokeshor may indeed comform to some ancient recipe, but it’s likely to have little positive impact on most Western noses. If you like the Tibetan artwork on the boxes, it’s far easier to recommend Red Crystal which has a much greater personality and a strong sandalwood middle none of these quite have.

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