When you first approach Shoyeido's Incense Road collection, part of their Pure Scents line of incense featuring unblended premium ingredients, Nanzen (Frankincense) and Nanto (Sandalwood) take center stage. Actually, you'd be forgiven for believing these were the only two recipes in the Incense Road line. You have to search to find Nanshu (Chai) - the third glorious fragrance from Shoyeido's Incense Road line. But like anything worthwhile, the reward for discovering this heavenly fragrance is well worth the effort. In all honesty, Nanshu (Chai) has rapidly become one of my favorites to listen to.
Shoyeido describes Nanshu simply as "a sultry, Chai-inspired fusion of cinnamon and spices." This just doesn't do this fragrance justice. This is hardly a typical cinnamon incense stick, as it shows incredible depth derived from its premium ingredients and superb recipe. Nanshu is definitely sultry however, thanks to a deep passion stirred through its superb creamy blend and soft powdery texture.
Nanshu's stick note is complex, as it presents a mysterious mixture of warmth, sweetness and powdery cream. There is a slight note of sandalwood at the base, but the primary fragrance of the stick is subtly sweet and creamy, with hints of honey and vanilla. There is also what seems to be a tiny hint of citrus, perhaps frankincense, that is deep in the mix as well.
Burning produces a deep, rich, warmth with a dominant creamy note. The sweetness remains, but takes on a drier powdery form that plays within the creamy tones, weaving in an out like a playful lover. The smoke produced is most decadent to watch, mirroring the creamy tones with its sultry dance of curling waves like those of cream on top of a fine latte. But if you're expecting Nanshu to behave like Chai tea, be ready for a surprise. This is definitely incense, the fragrance being much more substantial and penetrating than that of a Chai tea. Whereas Chai tea warms from within as it is consumed, Nanshu warms from without as it consumes itself, filling the space in a warm, creamy, scent that does not cool the way tea does.
The after note is decadent. Soft, powdery sweet, and long lasting, Nanshu continues to pleasantly make its presence known long after burning like the scent of a refined woman's perfume. Here is where the note of cinnamon comes to the forefront, scenting the space with a rich spicy texture.
With Autumn in full swing, Nanshu provides the perfect complement to the season. Its warmth and creamy fragrance reminds me of the coming holidays, filling me with memories of the warm atmosphere of Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother's when I was a child. To illicit such memories from a fragrance is indeed a great gift of a truly superb incense.
The kettle cold, the cup offended sits empty.
Memories of my grandmother's home linger.
A creamy taste of heaven in the air...