Gadong Monastery / Panam Gadong Tsendok Ling Monastery’s Incense (Grade 2)

I reviewed Gadong Monastery’s Grade 1 incense a week or few ago, completely forgetting there was a Grade 2. Even the packaging is different with the former in a plastic package and this grade 2 in a rather striking green box. I should mention that when it comes to Tibetan incenses, grades don’t often really mean a lot. Over the years I’ve started to feel that this may be a bit of a failure in translation or marketing when it comes to the English language speaking market, because we almost always switch into the Grade 1 being better than 2 (or A over B) mode and honestly really don’t think that’s always the case. For instance, at this moment in time I probably like the Grade 2 Holy Land more than the 1, but this is highly subject to change and hasn’t always been the case. Ditto with Mindroling or Nada. So don’t let the grades get in the way of trying new things. However, I mention this because quite obviously Grade 2 Gadong is a cheaper incense with a bigger box, so pricewise the grades are steps.

Grade 2 here is a somewhat different, perhaps more rhodendron-infused, tangy blend than the Grade 1. The ingredients listed are white and red sandalwood, agarwood, naga, Tibetan saffron and many other natural herbs, more or less the usual sort of list you see in monastery incenses. The tanginess is certainly lighter given the amount of woods in the mix, one that often gives it a sort of “corn chip” aroma to it. And while rhododendron isn’t listed, this also has that sort of harvest/autumn leaves sort of vibe incenses with it usually have. It is definitely a different incense from the Grade 1, far less high altitude and spicy. The musk is gentle and so is the overall pitch of the incense. This is essentially a bit lighter fare than the 1, but it’s also not a lighter version of the 1, it’s a different incense altogether. I’m not sure it’s one that you’re really going to pick out of the crowd every time because everything is so well-blended that it mutes specific subnotes a little, so in a way it pitches the whole thing a bit closer to the middle.

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Gadong Monastery / Gadong Tsendok Ling Monastery Incense

Gadong Tsendok Ling Monastery (TLM) Incense includes white and red sandalwoods, agarwood, saffron, clove and cinnamon in its blend. Any time I see a line up like that I’m intrigued. Tibetans often seem to vary quite a bit on how high the spice content is in incenses and I’m often a little more pleased when the clove and cinnamon is a bit more noticeable (which reminds me but I need to find a source for Yog-Sadhana, which had the spice level turned up to eleven). So in many ways this formula I think might be a bit friendlier to newcomers than other more deeply traditional monastery incenses. It has a pretty lively vibe to it overall, it has the Himalayan (I want to say alpine, but you know, wrong mountain chain) freshness in the woods they use, the usual musk note, the usual saffron note, but there’s something about the way the spice plays off the saffron that gives this more of a floral note than you usually get. There’s also a bit of sweetness to it which is much more apparent to me after the last few reviews of Tibetan incenses I’ve posted here. A really nice, intriguing incense – if you want to go for a monastery incense with depth then this is a stop you’ll want to make.