Incense and Tea

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impromptuandy
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Wed Apr 08, 2020 10:32 pm

I recently purchased incense for the first time, and experimented with lighting agarwood while making tea. (I bought different kinds of agarwood and some other blends from Ken Cannata, who learned incense-making from Kyarazen.) I'd known that sometimes people combine the two activities, and I recently read a review for my favorite liubao which described it as having an "oud-level quality," and well, curiosity took over and here I am with a bunch of incense.

I made a simple arrangement with a small bowl filled with salt, with the stick placed vertically. (I'd have used rice, I think it would've been slightly easier to place the stick, but now ain't the time for wasting food).

First mistake: using a match to light the incense. Clash of smells there. Should've known better.

Otherwise I found the experience to be generally pleasant. I didn't find that it interfered with tasting or smelling the tea at all, which surprised me. It did interfere a little with my tetsubin "aroma", I sometimes get whiffs of an old book smell while it's heating up, but no such whiffs were to be had in agar-land.

I think I'll try this experiment again, but I'm not sure if I'll make it a regular practice.

I'm curious if any of y'all use incense. If so, do you burn it with tea, or perhaps before or after? What types? Often, or only every once in a while? What's your set-up like? Do you find that it complements certain teas?
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Bok
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Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:26 pm

I am more in the camp of nothing-comes-between-my-tea-and-me, means I try to avoid anything that could distract from the tea taste and flavour. How can I take a whiff of the gaiwan lid or empty cup, if there is smoke blowing into my nose?
carogust
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Thu Apr 09, 2020 12:16 am

I'm somewhat curious about incense as well. But I would not burn it while drinking tea. If the incense is any good it probably deserves to be enjoyed on its own without any distractions. Same goes for tea.
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wave_code
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Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:41 am

I like the smell but it can set off my allergies sometimes. Also I don't like the idea of the oils building up on things over time like books/records/equipment so I don't really use it. My sense of smell isn't particularly sensitive to begin with so I think having it burning while drinking tea would be out for me.

That said, I really like the sound of liubao with oud qualities- mind sharing which tea it is?
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Victoria
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Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:29 pm

A few years ago, an old Korean woman on a bicycle in the Sunday farmers market handed me a bag with Palo Santo and just said “here you will like this, my gift to you.” I was a little surprised by this stranger’s generosity and was skeptical, since I wasn’t into incense at the time. Even so, when I got home, I lit the resinous wooden stick and found it to be really pleasant, with a sweet clean aroma. It clears the air nicely. I’ve now branched out to Incense Master ‘fupenglee’ aka Jue Hua, KyaraZen, and Ken Cannata’s incense.

I now also use incense occasionally with tea sessions, mostly into the third infusion when aroma from the tea is reduced. Incense, like tea, is silent, meditative, and calming so they complement each other nicely. Incense opens up the olfactory senses, leading to new tasting notes during a session. Of course, it has to be high quality, otherwise it would interfere with and not compliment a tea session. At the moment, I’m enjoying Cannata’s ‘Stanford Cedar’ with HY Chen’s fourth infusion of his medium roast DongDing.
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Shine Magical
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Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:35 pm

Some people age puer in wooden boxes made from woods that have a particular smell. That way the smell gets intertwined with the tea as it ages and the tea blends the tastes. I've had a tea like that and it was interesting but also experimental.
Chris
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Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:16 pm

I have a pretty ridiculous collection of incense, mostly made by KyaraZen, Ken Cannata, and various Japanese companies. At its best, I love it as much as tea, but despite feeling conceptually related, I mostly enjoy them separately.

Sure, I may sometimes drink an uncomplicated tea grandpa style and burn some inexpensive sandalwood incense at the same time, but if I'm drinking some fancy aged sheng or yancha, or burning something particularly special (KZ, high-end Kyukyodo, Gyokushodo, Seijudo... I could go on :roll: ), I'd prefer to focus on one thing at time.
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Bok
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Thu Apr 09, 2020 8:36 pm

Chris wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 7:16 pm
I have a pretty ridiculous collection of incense, mostly made by KyaraZen, Ken Cannata, and various Japanese companies. At its best, I love it as much as tea, but despite feeling conceptually related, I mostly enjoy them separately.

Sure, I may sometimes drink an uncomplicated tea grandpa style and burn some inexpensive sandalwood incense at the same time, but if I'm drinking some fancy aged sheng or yancha, or burning something particularly special (KZ, high-end Kyukyodo, Gyokushodo, Seijudo... I could go on :roll: ), I'd prefer to focus on one thing at time.
Good to hear! I thought it always weird when seeing chaxi set ups with incense burning next to the brewer! :roll:
Pan
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Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:21 am

Victoria wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:29 pm
A few years ago, an old Korean woman on a bicycle in the Sunday farmers market handed me a bag with Palo Santo and just said “here you will like this, my gift to you.” I was a little surprised by this stranger’s generosity and was skeptical, since I wasn’t into incense at the time. Even so, when I got home, I lit the resinous wooden stick and found it to be really pleasant, with a sweet clean aroma. It clears the air nicely. I’ve now branched out to Incense Master ‘fupenglee’ aka Jue Hua, KyaraZen, and Ken Cannata’s incense.

I now also use incense occasionally with tea sessions, mostly into the third infusion when aroma from the tea is reduced. Incense, like tea, is silent, meditative, and calming so they complement each other nicely. Incense opens up the olfactory senses, leading to new tasting notes during a session. Of course, it has to be high quality, otherwise it would interfere with and not compliment a tea session. At the moment, I’m enjoying Cannata’s ‘Stanford Cedar’ with HY Chen’s fourth infusion of his medium roast DongDing.
love Kens peices. I have a library of his works and use them as a yardstick to measure others. His Stanford ceader is my favorite as well and gives me the ability to really focus on the tea and its offerings. I REALLY want to try Kyarazen's works. they both got me hooked on agarwood and gave me a greater appreciation for mysore sandalwood and Sri-Lankan agarwood which is exeptionally rare.

is there a link to Jue Hua's works?
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Victoria
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Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:02 am

L.S.G.artapprentice wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:21 am
is there a link to Jue Hua's works?
Here is Dr Li Fupeng’s ( Jue Hua ) web site https://www.incense.sg/gallery
Pan
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Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:05 am

Victoria wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:02 am
L.S.G.artapprentice wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:21 am
is there a link to Jue Hua's works?
Here is Dr Li Fupeng’s ( Jue Hua ) web site https://www.incense.sg/gallery
groovy thanks, looks like hes sold out but found some of his stuff on global tea hut
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