Agarwood, ingrained in the human story for well over a millennium, has enjoyed a rarefied status in many major civilizations and religions across the world. The complexities involved in assessing the quality of this wood in terms of place of origin, botanical species, and grade have continued to envelop agarwood in an enticingly enigmatic air of mystery, while the challenge of separating fact from fantasy has kept many from exploring more deeply the magical world of agarwood.

Like many of today’s enthusiasts, the founder of Emma Agarwood was drawn into this rarefied realm after experiencing the intensely rich and unique aromas produced in its incense smoke.

For over two decades, they have traveled deep into the world’s sixteen major agarwood areas,distinguishing the subtle depths of agarwood aromatics; This long-running, highly labor-intensive effort of Emma Agarwood has created a high-resolution “aromatic map” of  agarwood that definitively breaches the veil to reveal a truly fascinating, untold story of agarwood that is authentic and evidence-based.


What is Agarwood?

Agarwood, known as chen-xiang in Mandarin and agaru in Sanskrit, is a byproduct of the natural defensive response of several tree species in the aquilaria genus to mold infestation. When under attack from this mold, which enters through lesions on tree surfaces, these trees produce phytoncides and other antimicrobial agents to fight the infection. The repeated process of attack and response infuses tree sap with a potent admixture of phytoncides and mold structures, known as agar resin - the forerunner of agarwood. This resin solidifies and alkylates over time. Resin inside of aquilaria trees, as well as resin remaining on or in the ground after a tree has been felled or that is trapped in mud or in water, gradually alkylates over time. Weather, climate, soil, and other variables greatly affect the process of alkylation, creating location-specific peculiarities that open the door on a virtually limitless range of qualitative potentialities. However, time is the one requisite variable essential to creating all fineagarwood.

Main Source Areas

Aquilaria, with nearly 20 fragrant-wood deciduous evergreen species, is the genus that contains the world’s largest number of fragrant-wood trees.

For the convenience of categorization, many distinguish agarwood as either “Hui’an” or “Xingzhou”. Hui’an denotes the commercial agarwood that is handled primarily through the Vietnamese city of Hội An. Hui’an agarwood has a distinctively complex aroma with hints of sweetness. The most sought-after Hui’an agarwood is Nha Trang and Red Qi Nan (Red Earth) from Vietnam and Pursat from Cambodia.

Xingzhou denotes the commercial agarwood that is handled primarily through Singapore. Xingzhou agarwood most frequently exhibits distinctively menthol aromatics. Moreover, as it is often available in relatively large slabs ofsturdy wood, Xingzhou agarwood is frequently used to fashion agarwood beads and artistic curios. The widely varied geographical, geological, and climatic characteristics of the source areas for Xingzhou agarwood result in a wide range of qualities. In general, the most sought-after Xingzhou agarwood is sourced from Kalimantan and Tarakan Island in Indonesia and from Brunei.

Agarwood Grades

Agarwood is enmeshed in a bewildering tangle of grading and naming practices that is due largely to the lack of a unified grading standard, with source area, shape, maturity, and harvesting method all potentially applied in classification schema.

The most common current grading method uses the buoyancy of samples in water as a direct measure of quality. “Sinkage” identifies the best grade, “half-sinkage” is the second-best grade, and “full-floating” is the third and lowest grade. Agarwoods are not created equally. The resin content of agarwood that sinks to the bottom accounts for at least a quarter of the total weight of the piece. “Sinkage” agarwood accounts for less than one-fifth of agarwood production, making this grade the most prized and valuable.


All Emma Agarwood incense products use only agarwood that is sourced directly from production areas and are handmade in selected workshops. Its carefully monitored processes use no oxidizing agents or synthetic aromatics. While items may use agarwood of differing grades and sources, all of Emma Agarwood products carryaguaranteeofnaturalagarwoodpurityandquality.

Stick Incense, Coil Incense, Powder Incense, and Agarwood Art Collectibles

In our most popular stick incense product category, Vietnamese agarwood, with its light, elegant fragrance, is our perennial bestseller. The pleasant aroma of Vietnamese agarwood perfectly and subtly accentuates any setting, time, or mood.

Itsfull-bodied,stable,long-lastingfragrancemakestheMalaOKseriesparticularly well suited for use in Buddhist ceremonies and in relatively large indoor spaces.

The aromas of coil and stick incense products are similar, with both maintaining a slow, steady burn for 2~4 hours. These items are ideal for ceremonial use and are easy to apply. The public is increasingly choosing natural-wood incense over chemically enhanced incense products.

Emma Agarwood’s decades-long relationship with agarwood producers and production regions have also helped them amass a sizeable collection of agarwood collectable art pieces, including carved art, bead bracelets, rosaries, and other agarwoodart.


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