Ba’er Qude Si / Incense Cones

Like the Ganden Monastery cones, Ba’er Qude Si Cones seem very similar to the monastery’s flagship stick incense. However, the ingredients list is a bit different and includes white and red sandalwood, safflower, clove and other ‘natural, medical ingredients’ (the jar itself also adds three kinds of aloes). We can assume that the safflower subsitutes for the the saffron, but there isnt anly lilac, musk or cardamom listed and instead there’s the clove, which you might not pick up much of at all if it wasn’t listed. It all adds up to a lot of things you’d expect from a red color scent except that the aloeswood that is weaved in here is fairly typically Tibetan and you can tell that part of its intent is to be relaxing as it’s supposed to help with insomnia. The other difference from the Ganden cone is these don’t have the drillhole that marks them as backflow cones so you can’t use these cones on those types of burners, but frankly that works for me a little better as backflow cones don’t work as well on a bed of ash either (well I might get one of those cool holders one of these days!). The aroma still falls in a roughly autumnal area, although some of this may come from the safflower in the mix, but it also feels something like an Agar 31 incense in discguise. It’s a bit milder and less complex as a bouquet than the stick and as always the issue with many a cone is that the mix tends to be a bit harsher to my taste, especially when the cone reaches the base and the end of the burn. But earlier on, it’s still pleasant, quite comparable to the Ganden cone which I might tell apart from the backflow holes only. Incense Traditions also mentions a yellow jar of these that originates from a different temple as well, so there might be some mild variation.


Ba’er Qude Si Incense

This is probably the third Tibetan incense running I’ve reviewed that has a sort of mix of woods, spices and rhododendron-like autumn notes. All of these sticks kind of have an orange or red or ochre-ish color to them which really helps kind of cement that post-harvest feel in style. Ba’er Qude Si (long stick) incense might actually turn up the spice content a little higher than Gadong TLM which creates a very nice and balanced feel to the ingredients overall. There’s musk, as usual, but not too sweet. In fact a personal observation for my own tastes is when the spice (roughly cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, cardamom – that sort of thing) is a bit elevated in the mix it actually kind of substitutes in for sweetness and I crave the latter less. The ingredients as listed include white and red sandalwood, stigma croci (saffron), cardamom, lilac, musk and “30 medicinal crops” which is also a bit different than the usual line up you see due to the lilac. The high-altitude feel comes into it in a powerful way, not unlike Samye Monastery’s stick, the whole atmosphere is really redolent of the whole Himalayan mystique. Overall this is a really gorgeous and full Tibetan incense and at $10 it is really perfectly price pointed and well worth it.