Top Ten for January 2011

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2011 be a good one for you, bringing health and happiness, and lots of great incense!

It’s my turn up at bat for the Top Ten for Jan 2011. The top ten can be difficult at times due to the sheer amount of great incense out on the market, and the many personal faves that I have. However, for this month, I’ve decided that the following ten incenses are my favorite this January. In no particular order, they are:

-The Direct Help Foundation Eternal Maiya incense. A lovely blend of sandalwood and patchouli, where the sandalwood provides the expected woody note and the patchouli a light airiness that is both earthy and slightly sweet.

-The Direct Help Foundation Oum Pure Sandalwood incense.  Sandalwood incense done up Tibetan style that has sandalwood and sandalwood oil. The sandalwood and the sandalwood oil are a one- two punch combo that makes this superior incense, one with a truly delightful sandalwood aroma.  This is not high end incense like Shroff’s natural sandal that runs north of $150 USD. This is much more modest incense, but one that still manages to be quite good.

-From Chagdud Gonpa Foundation, Sitar Dorje’s Unsurpassable Healing Incense (P’hul-Jung Men-Po).  This is absolutely lovely incense that ranks right up there with Dzongchen Monastery and Holy Land, in my opinion. Unsurpassable Healing Incense is like a first cousin to both, having similarities to Dzongchen and Holy Land, but is still different enough and with its own character that make it unique. This is another earthy, resiny, floral, musky blend. It’s an “all rounder”, hitting all those aforementioned bases, and has that special mojo that is both calming and uplifting at the same time. Some of the ingredients are aloeswood, white and red sandalwood, frankincense, saffron, valerian, magnolia, musk…etc. The scent itself manages to be both fresh and floral, with a darker resinier base and herbaceous endnotes with a touch of musk.

-Holy Land Grade 1. Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought this once it was back in stock over at EOTA. I’m glad I did, though, as that it is definitely a worthy purchase. I won’t write too much about this one due to the fact that it’s been covered extensively here on the ORS. Suffice to say that this incense that as Mike might say, “has mighty mojo that borders on being mystical.” The scent is darker, muskier, and less floral than either Dzongchen or Unsurpassable Healing Incense. If Holy Land incense was a food product, I’d say that it’s more savory than sweet (if that helps any in getting an idea of its scent and description).

-Mother’s Fragrances Lotus Incense. A singular and linear incense and scent, where there’s no complexity but dang if this isn’t a good one. Slightly sweet, and of course floral, this is incense that is very calming and is a good room scent. It’s one to use when having guests over as that it gently perfumes the room but isn’t overwhelming perfumey or ostentatiously showy.

-Mother’s Fragrances Atma Incense. The Mother’s incense catalog is simply superb, with their Nag Champa line being quite a standout. One of my favorites from their Nag Champa collection is Atma. A delirious blend of various ingredients, with floral notes and sweetness from halmaddi and honey. This is a tough one to describe because so many things are going on, and it’s all going on at the same time, the ingredients are working together and not against one another. It’s a symphony of scent, with lead violin being performed by the lavender, the cello is geranium, piano is vetiver, and the triangle is clove with halmaddi as the composer, and honey is the conducter.

-Hougary frankincense resins. A hold over from last month’s Frankincense and Myrrh review, but when incense is this good, it’s going to pop up continually in a lot of people’s “best of” lists. Bright, citrusy, fresh and fragrant, this is frankincense royalty. If you like frankincense at all, do yourself a favor and get some hougary.

-Duggatl al Oud Wardh Taifi. My favorite rose incense of all time, and one that provides an astonishing authentic fresh rose scent. There are many rose incenses out in the market, but this one stands head and shoulders over them all, in my opinion. Simply gorgeous and a must try for rose lovers.

-Mermade Magickal Arts Faery Call. I don’t know about you, but in the midst of winter, I often dream about and long for spring. This incense brings a touch of freshness and brightness and evokes spring and summer in appearance and scent. Literally garnished with dried flowers of marigold petals, rose petals, and lavender buds, and deliciously scented with neroli and other top notch ingredients, this incense is sure to put you in a cheerier mood and drive away the winter blues.

Shunkodo Haru no Kaori. The name of this incense translated into English means ‘smell of spring.’ Can you tell that I’m tired of winter? 🙂  This is great incense, more subtle than Faery Call, but equally good in its own way. As to be expected, it’s more refined being Japanese incense, with a less in your face scent bouquet. There’s the added touch of aloeswood, which adds that certain “je ne sais quoi” quality, that extra special touch that puts this incense into the category of wonderful.

The above incenses can be found at various retailers on the net. The Faery Call incense can be purchased from Mermade Magickal Arts, and the Sitar Dorje’s Unsurpassable Healing Incense from http://www.tibetantreasures.com/tthtml/ttmerch/incense.htm. Incidentally Tibetan Treasures will be going offline from February 7th to March 7th for a site renovation, and will return on March 8th. As such, if you want to purchase the Unsurpassable Healing incense, I recommend that you do it soon to avoid delays in processing and shipping.

What are the incenses that you have been burning lately? Are there any that are your “go to” ones to beat the winter blahs? Chime in and share your thoughts!

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The Direct Help Foundation / Maya Devi / Artemisia Indicia, Cardamomo y Especias, Rhododendron Anthopogon, Romero, Salvia Officinalis

In keeping with the Direct Help Foundation tradition, the Maya Devi line of incenses comes in striking packaging, white lokta paper boxes that are made in a somewhat similar way to Japanese stationary, with woods and herbs mixed in with the paper, to create some really neat works of art. And like the Direct Help Foundation incenses themselves, they’re given a string and button so that the box can be secured. And inside, a dried boudha leaf sitting on top of a wrap around 25 sticks of incense.

They’re so nice you can immediately imagine when you’re done with the incense, reusing them for some of the more lousily packaged Tibetan sticks. In the cases of the Maya Devi line, unlikely many a TDHF incense, there aren’t really any strong oils to saturate the packaging, all five of these incenses are really natural and as the case with a lot of Tibetan style incenses, perhaps a bit too natural in that the heavy wood contents of these incenses bring with them undertones of gravel, tire and campfire. I mention this specifically, not that it particularly bothers me, but because over time you get the distinct impression this is what loses many on lower end, under $10 boxes of Tibetan incenses. And also to say that in that range, the Maya Devis are perhaps a bit more superior for the price due to the fresh nature of the herbs being used. However it’s difficult to call whether or not they succeed in spite of their bases.

Artemesia Indicia appears to be a mixture of mugwort, juniper and both red and white sandalwood. Himalayan mugwort (titepati) always seems to be a lot more fragrant than the mugwort I’ve managed to dig up at local herbal stores, a scent that would make you wonder why it’s being used in incense at all. But I’ve noticed the Essence of the Ages ropes that use titepati tend to be some of the better ones, as if there’s something of a fruity or citrus note to them. Not that this particularly saves this incense given the heavy juniper content, a scent that almost eradicates the sandalwood notes, but it does give the top notes a fragrant herbal note. The woods actually remind me a little of some Medicine Buddha scents (such as the Dhoop Factory version) with that slightly sour almost coppery feel to it. Overall, though, this is the first of a few Maya Devis that seem to lack an overall personality. You could be torn between the obvious benefits of a natural incense and the scent’s failure to really do something.

Cardamomo y Especias demonstrates fairly well the difference between the wonderful smell of fresh cardamom in teas and the spice itself with what it smells like burning. Cardamom on charcoal seems to overwhelm its natural aromatics and in the case of this incense, even with added spices, the results aren’t quite up to speed. That’s not to say it’s not a nice incense nor has its own subtleties, but the juniper again outweighs what should be stronger cinnamon, clove and nutmeg notes. Like many Tibetans, the overall combination is almost corn, corn chip or tortilla-like in scent, with grassy or even straw-like notes. The overall spice content rather than being rich, seems to impart something like an orange or citrus note to the top. In terms of personality, it’s probably the middle incense of the five.

Unfortunately, Rhododendron Anthopogon probably has the least personality, which isn’t particularly surprising for a type of plant that varies from shrubs to trees. But again, it’s hard to blame the top notes when the juniper, sandalwood and binder so dominate the overall scent, perhaps more than any other Maya Devi incense. It’s almost hard to describe otherwise as it contains a number of generally unfamiliar ingredients like Indian gooseberry (which might impart some of the sourness to it) and myrobalan. You do get these pleasant wafts of herbal content throughout the burn, once again reminding you how pleasantly natural these are, but the incense is so wood dominated that it’s really difficult to describe in more detail. Perhaps there’s a green, almost vine like scent to it in there, but it’s one I only noticed occasionally.

Romero brings us to the venerable rosemary, a scent that’s a bit more pungent and evergreen when it’s found in incenses. And it’s quite the strong herb when you consider it’s mixed in with five different woods here: red cedar, juniper, red sandalwood, sandalwood and camphor. It’s almost a conundrum that the woodiest incense could be so leavened by one herb with presence. Somewhere in my stock I have some Portuguese rosemary powder, which reminds me a lot more of the herb you use cooking lamb chops, but here it’s quite a bit closer to, say, crushed pine needles. But again, there’s such a large content of wood here that the rosemary has to compete with campfire smells and the result is likely going to be pretty harsh for some. I found the orangey rosemary presence to be quite lively, or at least this drew out a reaction stronger than some of the other Maya Devi incenses.

Salvia Officinalis is very similar to other incenses using Himalayan sage or sweetgrass and is the Maya Devi incense with the strongest personality, the one of the five where the herbs more or less conquer (or at least even out) the strong juniper and sandalwood base. It’s the type of incense that will remind some of rubber or tire scents, but I happen to be on the side of the fence that likes the airy, quasi-lemongrass herbal nature and finds it rather peaceful and tranquil. The herbs render the overall scent with quite a bit of citrus: orange, tangerine and even lime peel and there’s also a bit of nuttiness to the wood base the other incenses really don’t have. Overall it’s probably the least gritty of the five and while I wouldn’t expect this to be an accessible incense, it’s the one of the five I most enjoy.

It would be difficult to call Maya Devi a successful line, despite the packaging more than half making up for what are rather modest, evergreen rich scents. They get thumbs up for keeping it natural, quality herbs, and using older recipes, but the heavy juniper and binder contents really compete with the rest of the ingredients making them fairly difficult to differentiate. While I’m not sure I’d have wanted to add oils to these to strengthen the individual scents, I do wonder if an adjustment in the ingredient ratios would help improve things, although guessing the prices would probabaly come up fairly drastically as well. Perhaps in the end I wanted to like these more than I actually did and that’s largely due to the humanitarian efforts of the company as well as the look of the product. In the end I might even feel the beautiful boxes were worth overlooking rather mediocre incense.

The Direct Help Foundation / Kumary House 2006, Himalayan Jhakri, The Druid

A previous TDHF review, including an introduction.

While the three incenses in question here may be available in other sets (certainly both the Kumary House 2006 and Himalayan Jhakri are among their most commonly distributed scents), I found them as part of the (now deleted or at least uncommon) Magic Tantra set, one of The Direct Help Foundation’s triple roll boxes with fantastic artwork.

Kumary House 2006 is that year’s version of an incense made by saving the trimmings from the making of other incenses so that no product is wasted. It makes for a scent with probably dozens of different ingredients that in this form are probably dominated by the most common ingredients, usually woods like juniper, sandalwood and the like. That’s something of a guess but it seems to play out in the incense’s aroma, which is indeed very everygreen and campfire/woody, and the description of flowers, woods and resins. However, I’d probably say whatever floral aromas at work here tend to the fruitier side, as is particularly common with Direct Help Foundation’s scents. Here it’s something of an orangey tint and I can imagine that scent comes from some rope trippings, where it is particularly common (you can see my reviews of various Essence of the Ages ropes – created by TDHF – starting here). Like many TDHF incenses, there’s something of a gravelly, woody background that might be a bit harsh for those who don’t already gravitate towards Tibetan scents, and in this case it’s a bit more pronounced with a bit of strong tobacco or sage like hints that speak of some herbal colliding in the mix. In a way it’s like having a very nice incense sitting on a poorer one and it’s strength is that during a burn all sorts of unusual hints come out of it, making it something of a potpourri. Very interesting overall.

Himalayan Jhakri is one of TDHF’s most common scents, there’s a stick, rope and powder forms of it, inclusive of the Essence of the Ages line TDHF is also responsible for. All three are fairly similar in scent with a somewhat citrus-blended sandalwood scent to it that’s fresh, clean and somewhat sawdusty and blended with a slight amberlike tint. It’s not far from a mix of a heavy wood incenses with an orange spice tea bag and if you can overlook the stronger, intense smells of the juniper wood and binder, you’re likely to find this a very pleasant incense. I’d probably prefer it in powder and rope form overall, the sandalwood tends to be a bit more noticeable and that’s particularly a strength with this incense. Overall it seems a genuinely Himalayan incense with a very fresh feel to it.

The Druid could be TDHF’s finest stick, described as a mix of moss, roots and resins, a combo fairly unusual for the line. Perhaps it’s a lower content of woods that helps to remove what’s kind of a harsh background scent to many of these incenses, but the combination works really well here. Even though it’s different from many other TDHF scents, it’s actually a bit more classically Tibetan, strange for a Celtic themed incense. It has that sort of tangy saltiness common to some of the better Tibetans, but with a cool floral herbal mix or perfume on top that gives it quite a bit of depth. I’ve always had this impression of Celtic incenses being like those fruity, green resin blends, but this is quite a bit different. The resin in the middle seems amber-like in the way amber tends to somewhat musty in this line and it gives the incense some heft to it, helping the overall tangy, savory nature. I found this one extremely pleasant and it’s somewhat unfortunately it’s only found in a couple boxes.

As always quite a bit of the draw with TDHF is their beautiful presentation, but in this case the incenses are pretty strong as well, if fairly uncompromising to the Western nose. While I’m sure we’ll see various versions of the Kumary House and Jhakri again, which should be easily found, I’d much more hope for a return of The Druid, which shows this company’s work at its best.

The Direct Help Foundation/Meditation (Nag Champa, Ebionite); Magic Works (Myrrlin the Magician, Amberlin the Alchimist); Bim Lama/Green Champa

The Direct Help Foundation are not only an incense making machine, but they’re also a worthwhile charity organization. At Essence of Ages you can find an unprecedented amount of documentation about their organization and their incense making process, including slide shows, for what is a very informative presentation on the art of making Tibetan incenses.

However if there is a difficulty in reviewing the TDHF line, it’s that they release limited edition containers of incense that are actually more than the sum of their parts. For one thing, most of their incense is sold in beautiful hand painted boxes that are some of the most striking and amazing in the industry. These boxes come in single, double and triple sizes and it’s very difficult not to make the purchase based on the art rather than incense, after all they’re quite reusable given each incense bundle also comes wrapped in cellophane and for the most part the natural ingredients don’t bleed into the boxes. If you cherish spiritual art like I do, these will undoubtedly become treasures; despite the fact that the art has to be done fairly quickly to duplicate 100s of boxes, there seem to be very few errors or rough spots. So quite simply no matter what you think of their incense, one will likely feel they got their money’s worth already just based on the box. That’s a very special and unique thing to do.

Incensewise, things get a bit more confusing. The cellophane wrapped incenses not only come in the single boxes, but there are certain incenses that can only be bought in the doubles and triples. Sometimes these scents crossover so you may find Himalayan Jhakri or the Kumary House blends in several different boxes. But this generally doesn’t make them easy to find and if you fall in love with a particular blend, you may find them, at least temporarily, unable to purchase. With the ongoing 30% blowout sale at Essence of the Ages, many of the organization’s incenses, including both of those in the Magic Works set included for review here, appear to be gone for now, which is a shame as they’re among the best in the entire line. The Meditation box is also gone, however, both Ebionite and Nag Champa can be bought separately in single boxes.

Essence of the Ages is one of the few companies that does a Tibetan style Nag Champa incense and if you’ve encountered any of the others, you’ll know they’re nothing at all like their famous Indian counterparts, except for a faint suggestion of aroma. Without halmaddi, Nag Champa loses much of its appeal, leaving behind only the slight floral hints. In fact this might have been a more succesful incense without the connection to the durbar. With so much wood in the base, there is more of a dry quality than a rich one with the sweet floral nature and slight spice adding aromatic qualities that are fairly mild, especially when compared to the impact of the Indian variety. It’s certainly a pleasant and accessible incense, but it’s dragged down by the connection a little, reaching for something the style isn’t really tailor made for.

Ebionite is an incense based on a simple Biblical formula, in this case a combination of aloeswood and myrrh. Like  most Tibetan incenses, the aloeswood never has the same sort of character and potency that it does in Japanese sticks and thus the myrrh and binder take the lion’s share of the aroma. Like many Tibetan sticks with a high myrrh content, Ebionite is nearly a low smoke incense, at times it only gives the most faintest of scents. The results are actually fairly musky, similar to amber’s presence in many Tibetans and the overall scent is not far from what myrrh might be like on a heater. As with several other TDHF sticks, the binder aroma isn’t quite perfect here, but as an example of one of the more subtler Tibetan incenses, you really can’t complain too much as the incense is very mellow and mild.

If Nag Champa and Ebionite are relatively one or two note incenses, the two formulas in the Magic Works box are quite a bit more complex and vigorous. The full names of the incenses are basically Myrrlin the Magician and Amberlin the Alchimist, and the motifs are almost a tribute to the Western magic and mystery traditions, with some interesting sigil-like drawings on the cellophane wrapper inserts. Both incenses have in common the strong ingredients of cinnamon and galangal, and although only Myrrlin lists juniper, I would guess there’s a signicant content of it in Amberlin as well. Both of these incenses are powerful, rich, spicy and very pleasant, among the best TDHF has to offer.

As mentioned with the Ebionite, the myrrh content of Myrrlin takes the smoke down a significant notch, although it’s not quite as mellow as Ebionite itself, after all the heavy galangal, cinnamon and juniper do more to balance that out. Also as previously mentioned, the myrrh gives the incense a very musky sort of feel to it. Myrrlin is an incredibly elegant incense for the usually rough and ready Tibetan feel with an uncommon smoothness and some great coutouring with the spices. The galangal gives the overall scent a nip and while I’ve seen the root not be particularly successful in incense, it’s almost picture perfect here.

Amberlin is a bit less musky than Myrrh, with that typical breadth and touch of richness common to most amber incenses and it’s this quality that makes the difference between what are basically two similar incenses. It has a stranger finish than the Myrrlin and is essentially rather earthy with a lot of dampness and hints of clay. One can indeed get the impression of distillations and essences from this incense akin to the alchemists of old, as its finish is quite mysterious and unusual. One would hope that further TDHF editions will return to such an interesting package, as the organization’s exploration of other religious and spiritual tenets makes for some really fun and unique sets. Read the rest of this entry »

Best Incense – September 2008

[For previous Top 10 lists, please click on the Incense Review Index tab above or the Top Ten Lists category on the left.]

  1. Shoyeido / Premium / Ga-Ho – The price on Shoyeido premiums necessitates some discipline in terms of frequency of burning, but despite all attempts at restraint, I’m closing in on the halfway point of my “silk box” and eyeing the bigger roll and wondering how I can afford one in this sinking economy. I just can’t get enough of what may be my very favorite incense. This one’s dry, unlike any other incense, heavy with high quality aloeswood, and the oil/perfume is stupendous. Just can’t get enough of this one. Extremely exotic and not nearly as immediate as the rest of the line.
  2. Shoyeido / Premium / Nan-Kun – And almost for a different reason, Nan-Kun is nearly as addictive. I think my appreciation for musk is higher of late due to all the Tibetans and while Nan-Kun gets its muskiness likely from the very high quality and heavy use of spikenard, it still itches that same spot while hitting the aloeswood and spice buttons at the same time. This one is very animal and rich, with an almost poignant sweetness to it. Possibly the best buy for money in the Shoyeido Premium line. To my nose, I enjoy Ga-Ho and Nan-Kun as much as the expensive kyaras in the line.
  3. Shunkohdo / Kyara Seikan – Seikan sticks are thin enough to look like they’d break in a strong wind, but their aromatic power for such a size is always startling, even if one does have to quiet down to “hear” it. In many ways this is the kyara incense that really focuses on the wood and while there are obvious ingredients that bolster the aroma, the sweet, sultry smell of the wood is central. A superlatively brilliant incense that I can barely get enough of.
  4. Tibetan Medical College / Holy Land – Down to about 15 sticks left in my box and I practically need disciplined meditation to stay away from it given the wait for a restock (when I go nuts). The very apex of Tibetan incense, a stick that rivals any country’s best work.
  5. Highland Incense – Highland’s the trusty #2 Tibetan brand for me as I wait for more Holy Land, a combination of animal (musk, civet?) and herbal spice that is incredibly comforting and relaxing right before sleep (I often burn about 2 inches of a stick as I drift off). Becoming a standard around here, don’t let this one go out of stock before you try it!
  6. Baieido / Kunsho – My recent musing is wondering whether Kunsho, the third most premium of five in Baieido’s Pawlonia box line, might be equal or better than the fourth, Koh En. As I get to know Baieido incense, more and more do I think you’re getting your best value for money from their products. I could see Kunsho at almost twice the price and still be worth it. Slightly cherry-esque with a very balanced and noble wood to it, this is truly impressive incense.
  7. Shoyeido / Premium / Myo-Ho – Definitely my favorite among the supernal trio heading Shoyeido’s premium line. It still strikes me like an electric muscat, deep, aromatic and sweet with an aloeswood strength that constantly reminds you of the incense’s depth. Another scent that’s painful to watch as your supply dwindles.
  8. Lung Ta / Drib Poi – I am returning to this Tibetan stick fairly often even though in doing so I keep sampling the rest of the line and wonder why I like this one so much more. I think it must be the curry-ish spice to it which seems missing in the others, a green-ish , exotic tinge that brings out the ingredient complexity.
  9. Minorien / Aloeswood – As I cycle through various incenses I often come across this one and am impressed all over again, particularly surprising as the two above it in the Minorien line are more refined and impressive. But there’s something so ancient and hoary about this aloeswood that it tends to scratch that itch I have with aloeswoods that aren’t too sweet. Like Baieido, Minorien’s products have a way of continuing to impress long after one’s initial purchase.
  10. The Direct Help Foundation / The Druid – I’m not sure this incense is still available, it was originally part of the Magic Tantra set and maybe one other, but perhaps it will show up again in the future. It’s actually somewhat similar in its salty herbalness to the Tibetan Medical College incenses, although not at all musky or dense like those. I’m not sure what the active ingredients is here, the mosses or something else, but the results are a very pleasant blend I hope comes back in the future. Because when TDHF get it right like they do here, they’re among the best.

Some thoughts on Direct Help Foundation incense

First, disclosure. Both Ross and I are working on a “weekend” side project for Beth at Essence of the Ages describing incenses in the Essence of the Ages lines (I’m not sure when these will go live yet). Obviously, none of these will be reviewed here, but as these incenses are created by the Direct Help Foundation for EofA, I felt it important to note that before I talk about the TDHF line itself.

TDHF incenses are a little confusing in that a) there are single rolls b) there are double and triple roll sets which include incenses not available in single roll sets c) many of the sets overlap rolls, for instance you can find Kumary House, Disciple of Lhasa and Indra Mudra incenses in several sets and d) purchasing a TDHF box is going to likely be affected by one’s attraction to the artwork. Particularly on this latter point, the love and care that goes into the handpainted boxes is pretty amazing, most of them look like they’ll be reusable for quite some time. As a fan of Visionary Art, which often uses eastern religious motifs, I’m quite impressed with all of this art, the vibrant colors and the symbolism. Honestly with the 30% sale I’m almost satisfied just paying this much for these boxes.

Incense-wise, Direct Help Foundation incenses seems almost purely natural and the ingredients vibrantly fresh. So even while I don’t enjoy the entire line, when a certain scent hits the palate just right this freshness gives it a little extra oomph. On the other hand those of you who know that certain ingredients that might smell better fresh than lit know that the fully natural route also has its hazards. The first incense that comes to mind is the Cinnamon, Vanilla and Honey. That’s a gorgeous sounding combination, but despite the stick smelling amazing, once lit, the incense has the same issues as these ingredients on their own. Without essential oils, the aromatic impact isn’t too great and cinnamon is very difficult to get right (Baieido Koh is one great example).

On the other hand, when TDHF do get it right, they hit bulls eye. The two-shot punch in the Magic Works box (now out of stock unfortunately) of Myrrlin and Amberlin is very fine, particularly the latter incense. Here we’re combining ingredients and I’m starting to feel this is where the Tibetan style really excels. The Magic Tantra box, also deleted, has the incense I liked the most in it, The Druid (moss, roots and resin), which even has slight hints of the same herbs in the Tibetan Medical College Holy Land and Nectar. Above all, none of the incenses are overstuffed with cheap cedar woor or other fillers and quite a few of them are surprisingly low smoke for Tibetan incenses. For example Ebionite probably has the same smoke content that Shoyeido’s Aesthetics series has.

A few minor comments on some of the others: Nag Champa seems fairly typical of Tibetan incenses in this mode, much drier than the Indian equivalents without the rich perfume oils. The Blue Lotus has a pretty nice Lotus aroma, although perhaps a bit too floral overall for my tastes. The musk in the high end Tibetans basically make the TDHF Green Musk a wash, there’s just no comparison. The multi-ingredient blend Kumary House (2006) is quite zesty with a slightly unpredictable nature and lots of evergreens. Himalayan Jhakri is very woody with slight spice and a very dry character.

While I’m obviously not close to finished evaluating these incenses, it’s hard not to see a highly level of quality at work here, even if the aromatic nature of these incenses are tempered by the rare or absent use of essential oils (or perhaps they’re just applied judiciously here, I’m not totally sure). But with 30% off and the incredible artwork, it’s hard to not suggest that you all give a box or two a try before the next wave comes in. At the very least it’ll be a place to store other Tibetans that come in the rattier paper packaging.