Incense in Washington DC

The lack of incense (decent quality or otherwise) in Washington DC is actually one of the major reasons that drove the birth of Incense Boutique.  My mother has always been an incense fanatic. She was born and raised in India but came over to the United States in the late 1970s.  She brought with her devout Hindu practices and an Indian spiritual tradition that included burning lots and lots of incense.  She would light an incense stick for morning prayers and proceed to carry it to every room in the house to spread the spiritual goodwill created through the prayer and manifested through the incense smoke and fragrance.  It served to purify the household and promote positive spirituality.

Unfortunately, the Washington DC area was a veritable incense desert.  There wasn't much to be found at all or reliably. Every time she would come and visit me in New York City, she would purchase tons of incense from a large Indian emporium.  Worst of all, the incense at the New York emporium wasn't even that good quality.  And thus the seed of an idea for Incense Boutique was born.

We will post spots to get incense in Washington DC on this blog post as we come across them.

Incense SCENE in Astoria, Queens New York

I've been spending some time in out here in Astoria, Queens in New York City so thought I'd report in on the incense scene.  It's not as vibrant as the nightlife and ethnic scene but there are some pockets worth exploring.  Sai Organics is the neighborhood go to spot for healthy food and natural personal care products.   It's tucked just under the 30th avenue NQ subway stop. They have a quaint little shelf dedicated to incense with incense sticks and smudge sticks but nothing in the way of high end.  You can generally count on the health food boutiques to carry something in the way of incense.

Sai Organics incense selection in Astoria, Queens

Sai Organics incense selection in Astoria, Queens

Organic Bay on Broadway is a 24 hours "health food' store in Astoria.  They recently opened up a vitamins and herbal remedy type shop on the same block (I don't believe this one is 24 hours).  They've got a somewhat larger incense selection, pictured below, but didn't find anything particularly out of the ordinary.

Incense shelf at the new Organic Bay vitamin store on Broadway in Astoria

Incense shelf at the new Organic Bay vitamin store on Broadway in Astoria


Incense in New York

Hi yalls! I'll be using this post to cover my travails in the New York incense scene.  I've generally found it to be pretty lacking from an all around perspective.  Most of the stuff that is sold in the health store bodegas is lower to medium end derivative product that is simply meant to "check" the incense box for the store.  Don't mean to be negative but that's just how it is!  In fact, the tremendous difficulty in finding dependable, high quality incense was the primary driver in making this site in the first place!

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I was recently at a New York street fair where one of the vendors was selling aromatherapy products. They had some large bunches of incense sticks for sale that were wrapped in tin foil. Naturally, I bought a bunch to try them out.  Let's be real here.  There's not much out there that's more interesting than mystery crudely packaged incense sticks from a couple of guys who just don't care.

Incense sticks from street fair in New York City

Incense sticks from street fair in New York City

I bet you already guessed how this one turned out.  Ostensibly, they were patchouli incense sticks.  In practice, they were not.  After removing the tightly wound tin foil covering, a heavy chemical aroma released into the air.  It wasn't a good first step. I took one stick and burned it for a brief yet reasonable duration (a few minutes).  There wasn't much scent to the aroma and it just smelled like smoke.  About 15 minutes after burning the incense stick, I began to feel a little sick. :( 

Mission failed!  Sometimes when you play the incense game you lose...but you can't find the gems if you don't try them at all!  Next time you're at a New York street fair, beware of the incense!