Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Balaji Agarbatti Company

The Balaji company was founded in Bangalore in the 1950s by a Mr Gupta, who had previously been involved with the Sri Srinivasa Agarbathi Company in Chintamani near Bangalore which had been formed in the 1920s.  They sell a range of incense sticks and dhoops, as well as soaps and perfumes.


Balaji Red Premium Flora Sticks
Score: 42

Balaji Om Shree Sai Natural Incense Sticks
Score: 35

Balaji Focus Herbal Sticks
Score: 10

GR Rose Incense Cones

This is in the GR (previously GR International) Exotic New Fragrance range. There's an initial very pleasing rose scent. Nothing especially profound, but clearly floral, slightly sweet, and reasonably attractive. The response was positive here. As it burns so the core material - which appears to be a blend of charcoal dust and wood dust - gets hot and the volatile rose perfume gets burned away leaving just the smell of the core material, which is common to all cheap perfume-dipped incenses.  So after a positive start as an everyday floral incense this fizzles away into toilet cleaner incense.

I learned recently that GR is the same company as SAC.  This makes sense as they are very similar. I reviewed SAC Rose cones  in March 2017, and concluded they were toilet cleaner material rather than every day incense.  Ah look - I just found that I reviewed GR International Rose cones in April 2013. That's five years ago! And my comments then were very similar to today, though I was a little more tolerant back the, and scored it 23, as a bottom end everyday incense.

Score: 19


Incense cones

Monday, 7 May 2018

Balaji Om Shree Sai Natural Incense Sticks

There is a base paste, which appears to be perfumed in itself, and contains a mix of charcoal and wood pastes and other ingredients, and that is rolled in a reasonably generous masala powder that clings to base paste. The aroma is quite muscular - big base wood notes, with some citric highs, and a floral mid range. There isn't much subtly here, and there is nothing particularly fine. This is all about the weight, and the impact. It's not aggressive - that isn't the impact - the impact is the heady heaviness of the incense. The grinding mix of wood and flora, the heat and the warmth. It's like going into a floral hot house in the height of summer. This is clearly a copy of Sri Sai Flora Fluxo, the name, the packaging, and the scent, are all based on that original fluxo incense. Another copy is  Hari Om's Fluxo, which on a comparison we here slightly preferred. I haven't yet set up an aroma challenge on all three, but I will do. I suspect, at the moment, that this Balaji will come out as favourite because it's not quite as heavy as Sri Sai Flora, and has more fragrances than the Hari Om. But it'll all come down to personal taste - the three are burning in the same direction.

Score: 35

Balaji Agarbatti Company

Balaji Focus Herbal Sticks

I burned some Balaji Red last year and was really taken by it. I noted at the time that I had a few other  Balaji to try, and was looking forward to it. Since then my incense collection has got a bit jumbled up as we've had builders in the house, and I couldn't lay my hands on those other Balaji, but I came across this box in my bottom drawer while looking for something else, and fired it up to give it a go.

The sticks are very tightly and well rolled charcoal paste which is then rolled in a light brown powder. The aroma on the stick is wood shavings, pine, and toilet cleaner. When lit up the aroma is rather muggy and old fashioned. It's floral, possibly rose, and it reminds me of some cheap acrid perfume that some older women use, usually too heavily. Damp old ladies knickers and old fashioned rose talcum powder. I'm probably being a bit harsh, but this is not sitting well with me. Others may well like it. Floral aromas are not among my favourite, especially rose based ones.

Popat Stores sell this in the UK for 80p plus postage. IncenseOnTheWay sell it the USA for $2.15 plus postage.

Score: 10

Balaji Agarbatti Company

Nandita Black Gold

A very gentle masala incense, "exclusively" distributed by Wonder Incense in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.  While they can be bought in bulk from UK wholesalers like eApollo and The Indian Connection, getting single packets online is tricky, and can be expensive - the best deal seems to be this one for £1.99 on Amazon.

There is milk chocolate, cinnamon, agarwood, balsamic vinegar, honey, beech wood, burnt wool, etc in the aroma. It's warm and woody with spice overtones. Gentle. Very gentle. Perhaps too gentle. It can burn away quite close by and be forgotten. While pleasant, it doesn't really develop into anything significant or heavenly. I like this, and can see it as being useful for when I want a comforting, calming, pleasant woody incense that isn't going to be heavy or intrusive.

Score: 35

Nandita Fragrances of Mumbai

Nandita Fragrances of Mumbai

 Nandita Fragrances of Mumbai offer a full range of incenses, including bakhoor and dhoop cups. They also do one of my favourite incenses, Nandita Wood Spice, so I am keen to explore further. The company was founded by Sri. K.Y. Acharya (1928-2010), and is based in Mumbai, with a retail store in Udupi, where Acharya was born.


Nandita Wood Spice:
Score 49

Nandita Black Gold (M)

Nandita Organic Nag Champa
 Score: 33


The Best Incense Makers

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Nag Champa Gold aroma challenge

I have three Nag Champa Gold packs. In the picture, the bottom one is my original Gold as sent to me for sampling by Paul.

Happy Hari's Nag Champa Gold

The middle pack is one I bought in a shop in Southampton, and is not marked Happy Hari.  It is distributed by The Indian Connection.

The Indian Connection
Nag Champa Gold

The top pack is a Happy Hari Gold, and was sent to me by Corey Topel of Absolute Bliss Incense in America.

The top pack is very similar to the Happy Hari pack I have been using, though there are some small differences. My pack smells more of honey. and white chocolate. The other pack smells damper. I think the differences are simply down to batch, age and storage conditions. My original pack is clearer older. It is dryer, and smells more rounded and mature. The other pack is sort of more earthy and raw.

More later.....

Saturday, 5 May 2018

GR International Opium Incense Cones

I quite like the incense GR International make. It's not grand or fussy, and is  perfume-dipped, but it's done professionally and with care. Solid, everyday incense to create a pleasant scent in your home. These cones are moulded with what appears to be a mix of charcoal and wood paste, and there's a volatile perfume which has been applied at some point in the process - this is normally done afterwards, in what is known as perfume-dipping,  though essential oils or a chemical compound can be added to the paste when being mixed, and either rolled onto the stick or shaped into cones.

The box is aimed at both the UK/USA and Italian markets, so one side is in English, and the other in Italian. There appears to be growing interest in incense in Italy as I have come across a few Italian distributors of premium masala incense such as Fiore d’Oriente, and Indian companies, such as GR, printing their incense packets in Italian. There is an attractive image of a woman playing a harp with a rose bush behind her. I note that the branding is now GR rather than GR International. And they have a new website GRIncense. Ah, and the similarity to SAC Sandesh, which I noted the other day, is made clearer, as they were both founded in 1970 by D.N.P. Guptha,  and they have the same address in Bangalore.

This is a pleasant musky everyday scent. It can be a little hot if placed too close, but at beyond arm's length it is a decent and attractive musky incense with notes of vanilla and white chocolate. It's a bit of a grower this one. Initially it's all about the sandalwood and especially the sweet musk, but there's also the high notes which are mildly flowery, balsamic, bergamot, quite summery. Yeah. I like this.  There are a number of incense which are called opium. I don't think that the name is intended to refer to the drug, but rather to the 1977 perfume  by Yves Saint Laurent.

Score: 36


Incense cones

GR International 

Friday, 4 May 2018

Puspa's Green Champa

Gift from Corey Topel of Absolute Bliss Incense in America. This is a shiny foil packet of dirt cheap perfume-dipped charcoal incense. The packet is deliciously evocative - full of Indian promise. My packet is somewhat faded, but even so it still lovely. The sticks do not look or smell promising when you get them out of the packet, but on burning they have a very pleasing musky aroma.  Gently candy sweet with notes of vanilla. This is not an offensive incense at all, and I can see why it is popular in America. It's cheap, it has an alluring packet, and the scent is warm, familiar, easy, and candy sweet and musky. You're not going to do aromatherapy with this, nor meditation or worship - but as an everyday incense this works just fine. I like it.

Score:  35

Pavitra Natural Incense Mayapur Frakincense

As with the Pavitra Natural Incense Ancient Musk I was burning the other day, this is very crudely made. But this is much cruder than that. In fact my initial reaction was "What is this shit?" The paste on the sticks looks hideous, and is flaking off. The initial scent is like burning plastic. Very hot and harsh and ugly. That settles down, but it remains hot and smoky and harsh. It ends with a scent like burning straw or dried herbs, a bit like Tibetan incense. There is nothing of the Frankincense (or Frakincense as the title has it) in this - nothing as attractive as that at all. It's a blend of burning plastic, cow dung, and straw. Very earthy, pungent, and crude. Mayapur is a holy city in India, regarded by some Hindus as the spiritual capital of the world. I don't think this incense honours that city.

Score: 3

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Tulasi Jasmine

I like this. Though it's a jasmine scent, there's a stronger suggestion of lemongrass - it's clean, lively and refreshing. It brings a positive spirit into a room. It's a perfumed-dipped charcoal stick - the everyday incense of India, and a frequent everyday incense in our house. Perfume-dipped charcoal sticks are cheap as chips, friendly, casual, and with a wide variety of scents from the traditional to the modern and sophisticated. They are not often heavenly or profound, but as your everyday incense friend they are indispensable. The stick has chemical compounds - volatile esters that are not unpleasant, but are clearly non-organic in origin; a bit like a mix of shoe leather and toilet cleaner. It's not promising! But when burned the aroma is quite reasonable - there are drop out points when the charcoal is more noticeable, but this is not common. The sticks are machine made, and the mix has been applied evenly, so is fairly consistent.

The lower notes are suggestive of a fat and floral jasmine, while the higher notes are closer to that lemongrass - bright and sharp and quite uplifting. Yes, a bloody good everyday incense!

Score: 33


Best jasmine incense

More Tulasi reviews

Monday, 30 April 2018

Pavitra Natural Incense Ancient Musk

Crudely made masala sticks of varying thickness. Quite oily and damp with a heady oily aroma of sandalwood, halmaddi, wood oil, and roses. Not much awareness of musk - this is too bright and high.  Burns slowly with a poorly defined aroma - it smells like a halmaddi incense, but there's little else going on. It's an OK smell, but it's a little sharp, ill-defined, and crude. This is the masala equivalent of a cheap and crude perfume-dipped incense where all you get is the base sandalwood sawdust. Here what you get is the base sawdust and some damp ill-defined vague "halmaddi".

I am not a lover of halmaddi anyway, so having an incense that smells of little else is not a delight to me. It isn't harsh like The Mother's or Aventor I was burning yesterday, where the halmaddi is loaded on, this has its harness, but it much more gentle, suggesting that what halmaddi there is, hasn't been applied liberally. It's just that there is little else in the fragrance mix to complement it.

Meh! It's OK, and I'm gradually liking it more and more. There is a hint of sweet musk in there, but I'm not blown away. Yeah - it's a decent enough everyday incense. Nothing offensive here.

I can't remember where I got this packet. I suspect it was from a shop, perhaps in Glastonbury, as I have no record in my online dealings. I can't find details on Pavitra on the internet - the web address given on the packet is no longer working. There is a Pavrita Incense Sticks page on Facebook, but that hasn't been updated since 2013, and appears, anyway, to deal in perfumed-dipped incense rather than masala. That appears to be the same company listed on IndiaMart. So, a dead end.... Anyone know?

Score: 27