Incensum - Patchouli

Incensum – Patchouli

Incensum seems to be a dead brand, but you can still occasionally find packs of it in some shops, for example on Etsy or eBay. I bought them here [note], for €2 per pack of 10 incense sticks.
What attracted me to them was the simple packaging design, which features a picture and the botanical name of the plant that is the main ingredient.
An approximate burn time of one hour is stated on the back of the packaging.
On the Incensum page saved in the web.archive, it is stated that these incense sticks incorporate semi-dry, partially fermented patchouli leaves in the masala dough, and there is also mention of fine-tuning with patchouli essential oil.

Patchouli smells extraordinary. They have an incredibly mild aroma that is actually herbaceous, but entirely different from anything I’ve ever smelled in burned herbs. The scent is sweetish and has a note of fermentation that reminds me of homemade ‘black tea’ made from blackberry leaves.
The fragrance is not heavy, not even particularly earthy. Yet, I can still recognize it as patchouli. The smoke scent is surprisingly soft and in no way unpleasant. It feels natural and creates a cosy atmosphere. These Patchouli sticks are not only different from all other patchouli incenses I know, but they fundamentally stand out from all other incense sticks in general. Not because they are outstandingly good – or bad – just entirely different. Other very natural incense sticks, such as the Ayurveda lines by Spirit Of Vinaiki, seem raw, almost crude in comparison. Incensum – Patchouli, on the other hand, has an almost delicate quality.

I wouldn’t generally rank this Patchouli among my favourite patchouli incense sticks because they simply stand out too much, but they definitely hold an honorary place. I am fascinated by their character.

Note regarding the shop:
When I first ordered to try out the shop, I ordered 3 packs:  PatchouliMusk and Amber. I got Patchouli and 2x Musk. After I contacted them, I was refunded €3 which I didn’t even ask for, more or less without comment.
I placed another order. The second time I ordered 3x Patchouli, 1x Patchouli+Bergamot, 1x Amber and 1x Benzoin.
I didn’t get Patchouli+Bergamot, but I did get 4x Patchouli, 2x Amber, 1x Benzoin and a pack of Myrrh+Frankincnese (which doesn’t appear in their online shop), labelled “sample”. These changes were also handwritten on the delivery note, but without any explanation.
When I asked, I was told that their actual inventory did not match the data in their system. The discrepancy could only be explained by shoplifting. They wanted to “compensate for the missing package with small gifts and not write back and forth so much.” I was then offered the opportunity to return the goods and keep the gifts.
I hope the shop took this as an opportunity to do an inventory. If you want to risk ordering, be prepared for surprises. 


Fermentation of Homemade Tea Varieties

This instruction comes from the book ‘Kraut & Unkraut zum Kochen & Heilen’ by Elisabeth & Karl Hollerbach; page 370, 6th edition 1984 – ISBN 88034 144 3 – A great book!

All leaves from rose plants can be used: raspberry, blackberry, wild rose; also wild strawberry, as well as smaller amounts of meadowsweet.
It is best to pick the young leaves early in the morning when they are still damp from the dew. The picked leaves are wrapped tightly in a cloth and allowed to wilt in a warm place for about half a day. Then, they are crushed in portions with a rolling pin on a wooden board.
Once this is done, the leaves are sprinkled with a little lukewarm water, wrapped in a flannel cloth, and packed in waterproof foil or tight container. They are left to ferment in a warm place (ideally 30°C) for 1–2 days. They should evenly turn black and start to emit a fragrance during the process.
After that, they are spread out loosely in a thin layer to dry, which can also be done at a low temperature in the oven.

There is also a brief description of a quick method in which the leaves are fermented in a tightly sealed tin placed in the oven at a maximum of 50°C. (At higher temperatures, the important ferments would be destroyed.) This process supposedly takes only about 4-5 hours. However, I have not tried this method.

I mainly used blackberry leaves and mixed in a little meadowsweet. The result was an aromatic, mild ‘black tea’ that reminded me somewhat of Darjeeling. Of course, unlike real tea, this tea is caffeine-free.

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