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Agarwood - "Golden dish" attractive to the whole world

The special Agarwood resin always makes anyone want to own it. Agarwood is distilled to produce Agarwood essential oil, known in English as Agarwood essential oil or Oud. This is a key ingredient in high-end perfumes. Because of the very expensive price, Agarwood essential oil is also known as "golden fluid" or "liquid gold".
Trầm hương - “Món vàng” hấp dẫn cả thế giới

Agarwood is distilled to produce Agarwood essential oil

However, the huge demand for Agarwood and Agarwood over the years has made Hong Kong's native Do Bau tree on the brink of extinction.

The kind of wood is more expensive than gold

The scent of thousands of incense sticks escapes from the narrow door right in front of Wing Lee Agarwood and Incense Company, a family-owned business located in Du Ma Dia area of ​​Du Tiem Vuong district, in the southern part of the peninsula. Long in Hong Kong.

The walls inside this shop are packed with countless bundles of sparkling red and yellow incense, but sandwiched in glass drawers is the world's most expensive incense: Agarwood. The pungent, earthy smell of this wood has made the name of the island of Hong Kong, which in Cantonese means Huong Cang.

The scent is a poignant reminder of the former colonial trading port that has now become a powerful financial center of the world. In its heyday, Hong Kong played a very important role in the ancient Agarwood trade to the Middle East and beyond.

At the age of 84, Yuen Wah has been in the Agarwood business for more than 70 years. His eldest son is Kenny, currently Kenny is running the Wing Lee company, which has expanded the Agarwood market to Mainland China, has added new stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Harbin.

Although retired, Yuen Wah continues to visit the family heirloom shop located on Shanghai Street. She recalled the time when she was 13 years old when she babbled in supporting the Agarwood business with her parents with proud feelings: “Agarwood is always an expensive wood. In the past, Agarwood was mainly used in the treatment of diseases because it was an excellent pain reliever. But now, people use Agarwood mainly to produce incense (incense)".


Trầm hương - “Món vàng” hấp dẫn cả thế giới

Agarwood is formed when the tree is damaged, the sap is in contact with mold, the worm's epidemic

Agarwood is formed from Aquilaria crassna (or Do Bau, agarwood, scientific name is Aquilaria), which is traditionally planted around villages for feng shui purposes. When the tree is damaged outside or inside, the sap wraps the wound, comes in contact with mold, and the worm's fluid affects the wood of the tree, eventually producing Agarwood.

In the harvest season, after decanting the wood, the black, hard plastic layer will be removed, this sap is very precious. Famous for the name "Agarwood", agarwood has been widely traded from the Middle East to Asia. The historical documents of the Tang and Song dynasties in China highly appreciate this commodity, especially the pure aroma of Agarwood has been praised in historical books of Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam. and Christianity.

Today, small pieces of Agarwood are harvested and sold to incense makers, with a price of about 58,000 HKD (Hong Kong currency) per kilogram (in 2014 prices). Agarwood sticks up to several meters in size are often sold to make handmade carvings - a piece of which has the shape of roots and trunks by Wing Lee company with a listed price of up to 1.2 million HKD. Yuen Wah said: "Those wooden slabs have unique features like works of art."

The appeal of the Aquilaria crassna tree
Agarwood resin is distilled to produce Agarwood essential oil, which is the key ingredient in high-end perfumes such as Armani Prive's Oud Royal or Yves Saint Laurent's M7 Oud Absolu. Each kilogram of Agarwood essential oil costs up to nearly 300,000 HKD and it is because of such an expensive price that Agarwood essential oil is also called "golden translation".

However, the huge demand for Agarwood and in the past decades has made the native Hong Kong species of Aquilaria crassna to the brink of extinction. The Asia Plantation Capital Company (APC), one of Asia's largest commercial growers of the plant, is now trying to save the plant by encouraging the establishment of plantations. sustainably in Hong Kong and across Asia.

The APC believes that only a few hundred varieties of wild gouramis exist in Hong Kong, although the SEZ government claims to have planted about 10,000 seedlings a year since 2009.

Trầm hương - “Món vàng” hấp dẫn cả thế giới cây dó bầuAquilaria crassna tree with Agarwood resin is the target of poaching.

But even planting young Aquilaria trees does not guarantee the survival of this species because it takes years to mature and the number of mature trees is now threatened by poaching. Mr. Gerard McGuirk, Sales Manager of APC in Hong Kong, expressed concern.

“Tree thieves often take care of old and naturally infected agarwood trees, because the agarwood produced will have a higher value, so these trees will also be the most threatened. Now in Hong Kong, if you're lucky you can find 30-year-old do gourd trees." Although the exact number of trees in the wild is controversial, the biggest concern is rampant poaching.

Near the small village of Shing Ping near the border with Shenzhen, there is a 3rd generation do gourd grower named Koon Wing Chan who has built a small plantation of about 6,000 do gourd trees. Mr. Koon Wing Chan is the sole farmer in Hong Kong and in an effort to maintain, conserve and trade this endangered plant, Mr. Koon has entered into a joint venture with APC.

APC has provided tours of Mr. Koon's ranch and several other public parks that are now home to a cluster of dó bauches. Located close to Mr. Koon Wing Chan's plantation, in Pat Sin Len State Park, where the space is always filled with the scent of incense from the Do Bau tree, the strange scent emanating from the trunks of the trees. pare.

It is a very difficult skill to perform, the purpose is to make the tree shed sap and not kill the tree. Yuen Wah revealed: “Not all do gourd trees have resin, so thieves always bet fate. In the wild, only 7% of the trees produce resin.”

If stealing a tree that is giving resin is discovered, the thief can be sentenced to 10 years of "removal of the calendar". But if the tree theft is successful, the thief can shop around when selling Agarwood on the "black market". Over the past two years, the police and Hong Kong's Ministry of Conservation, Fisheries and Agriculture (AFCD) have arrested 35 cases of theft of agarwood trees, or Agarwood trees, in hot spots such as Sai Kung and islands. Lantou and the northern part of the New Territories.

AFCD is planning to remotely electronically monitor the do Bau trees as well as install a closed-circuit television at the Tai PO Kau Nature Reserve on the western coast of the New Territories as well as to plant many tree seeds in the area. Tai Tong nursery is located near Nguyen Lang village.

Planting more Agarwood trees in national parks in Hong Kong may not be able to stop opportunistic thieves, but potential investors can save the Agarwood species growing in the wild from escaping. from extinction.

Trầm hương - “Món vàng” hấp dẫn cả thế giới cây dó bầu tinh dầu trầm

The Asia Plantation Capital Company (APC) is the unit that monitors the survival of the endangered Aquilaria crassna species.

Mr. Gerard McGuirk concludes: “We have Agarwood trees in 5 countries and we strongly believe in the sustainability of this tree, investing in the community to create positive social impacts. .

Our strategic plan in working with entrepreneur Koon Wing Chan is to provide the necessary support and expertise to develop long-term commercial opportunities in Hong Kong on a sustainable basis while Koon Wing Chan always stands by Mr. Koon Wing Chan to produce Agarwood essential oil on a local scale.

Tram Tue and the mission of preserving the Do Bau tree variety

When seeing the situation of natural Aquilaria crassna tree in Vietnam being exploited indiscriminately and exhausted, Tram Tue embarked on research on the genetic resources of Do Bau tree, built nurseries and propagated seedlings with the prescribed standards. large tissue. At the same time, work closely with farmers to strongly develop Aquilaria crassna tree nurseries, help people alleviate poverty, and have stable jobs.

Tram Tue is always concerned about planting trees to cause forests, and tries every day to greenen bare land and bare hills. Thanks to mastering the raw material area, the entire production stage of Agarwood products is always monitored for quality, ensuring that the process from raw materials to finished products is closed. Most importantly, the extraction process does not harm nature.

vườn trồng cây dó bầu

Chief executive officer of Tram Tue is planting Aquilaria crassna.

Learn about Agarwood's microbiological incense production process