SAMPLER NOTES: Tun Bo / Dream, Heart, Sentient Beings, Traditional, Triple Gem (Discontinued Line)

This isn’t a bad place to add a quick discussion to the difference between full reviews and what I call sampler notes. In the latter case, notes are made from what I feel is something of an insufficient supply, but usually because what I sampled doesn’t necessarily make me want to buy a full roll or box. In the case of the five Tun Bo incenses, I was given a larger supply a little later of the Heart incense and it’s probably telling that of the five incenses here it’s the one I like the most, probably because I’m more familiar with it.

Tun Bo appears to come from the Tibetan Autonomous Region and its incenses have some slight similarities to those from Medicine King, however these are much milder scents and in many ways probably have more in common with Nepali incenses in that despite what seem to be large ingredient lists often come off as just mildly woody with some spices. And these ingredient lists include all sorts of things like saffron, musk, crocus, angelica, styrax and many more, yet for some reason I wasn’t really able to parse a lot of individual scents with only a stick or so. So I want to preface this group of samples by saying that it’s quite possible I didn’t have enough of a supply of four of these to really eke out more than mild impressions.

Dream is the closest in style to the Medicine King Special Medicinal Incense, but it doesn’t have that scent’s richness and depth. It shares the sort of wood and corn chip aroma some of these Tibetans exude, but despite a freshness of ingredients, the overall scent struck me as being fairly plain. Heart doesn’t deviate much (although it has a red rather than brown color), but it does seem to me that the saffron is quite noticeable and there’s a touch of spice that seems to give this a bit of richness. However like I mentioned, I’ve lived with this one longer and know it better than the others. Sentient Beings is less rich than the previous two incenses, much woodier with a noticeable tinge of rhododendron in the mix (giving it similar tendencies to the Maya Devi Rhododendron Anthopogon). It’s mixed with a slight sweetness but overall it has the typical simplicity of your duller Nepali woody sticks. In fact some Indian sticks are more aromatic while unlit. Traditional shares a similar generic like formula with the Sentient Beings, albeit without the rhododendron or corn chip base scent. There is some herbal tendencies here but for the most part I found it difficult to get an idea of. Triple Gem is probably the woodiest of the bunch and even moves in the campfire like direction many Nepalis evince.

I did make an effort to have my nose cleared before sampling these (on two different occasions) especially when it occured to me that in burning them in this order, it seemed like I was getting some fatigue, but the pattern repeated itself on a second rotation. Except for Heart I still end up feeling these get an incomplete grade, mostly due to my experience with other incenses from the TAR that open up quite a bit with famililarity.