The Lost Art of Temple Balls
A hashish master and his student explore the preservation of resin
Charas, or hand rolled resin, is the original concentrate. Alluring and aromatic, charas was born from the first contact between humanity and the cannabis plant, as a layering of this sticky THC-rich substance is unavoidable when handling marijuana. Innovations in cannabis concentrates, utilizing newer methods of extraction such as BHO and CO2, will soon transform the face of modern day medicine. Still, the act of gently rubbing cannabis flowers will remain the easiest and most effective method of collecting fresh resin from wild plants at the peak of their life cycle and creations like the Temple Ball will continue to elevate what could be construed as mere collection into an artisanal craft.
The process of collecting live resin in the palm of one’s hands is simple in its methodology, but challenging in its implementation. While no longer widely-practiced, this method remains the sole cannabis resin collecting methodology in tropical countries with a humid climates like Bhutan, Nepal and Northern India. To collect resin, take the fan leaves off the plant and gently caress the flowers between your palms using a light back-and-forth rubbing motion. Thoroughly clean your hands of any leaf material after each flower and start again until a layer of resin builds up on your palms and fingers. Then snap the substance off your hands and voila! You have created hand-pressed resin.
The feeling of the resin slowly collecting, plant after plant, is a unique tactile communion and an unbelievable olfactory experience
There is an indescribable intimacy and closeness that is born from such a synergy, a communion that goes beyond the plant and connects to the terroir that gave birth to the magic. But the relation between a master gatherer and the resin also extends beyond the realm of collecting. In tropical countries preservation and aging are essential to quality and longevity. To this end, a Royal Nepalese Temple Ball was the ultimate manifestation of resin optimization and preservation. The origins of such a cutting-edge approach to packaging and long-term conservation may never be discovered, but the art should not be lost.
The Royal Nepalese Temple Balls were stuff of mythology already in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a fairytale for many and the Holy Grail of concentrates for a few. Imagine a sphere of resin hand pressed to an absolutely unflawed dark and hard surface polished to a mirror-like quality — a ball that resembles more of a glossy stone or black marble rather than resin. Picture an outside protective layer of resin fused into a crust so perfect that it can stand the depredations of time and nurture the aging evolution at its core. Visualize cracking open a 10-year-old resin ball like you would break a big egg, the center revealing itself slowly in all its glorious creaminess.
Envision a spicy tropical fruit cocktail with subtle earthy undertones taking over your olfactory senses as the resin breaks apart reluctantly exposing its dark red melted caviar like texture, the long contained aromas bursting out with an explosive force.
Imagine creating such a wonder!
A modern interpretation of the Temple Ball by The Dank Duchess
Frenchy’s eyes twinkle as he tells me stories of hashish around the world and indulges in nostalgia as he details his rich experiences of Malana cream and Nepalese Temple Balls. With true Nepalese Temple Balls no longer anywhere to be found, I can only imagine the creamy inner goodness of which he spoke so lovingly. Perhaps I can create something for which he will be equally fond.
I start with well-dried Jah Goo resin; known for its potency and intense flavor. I place a thick glass bottle filled with boiling water on top of the resin, which has been wrapped in a plastic steam pouch. It begins to melt almost immediately. I can see the yellowish color of the resin darkening as the heads fuse together, as if becoming more saturated with life. It is tempting to hurry the process along, but the resin moves at its own pace. I simply hold the glass bottle as a guide, slowly rolling it forward and turn the resin, gently rolling the bottle away from me. Flipping it, I see that the resin has begun to melt on the other side as the heat has easily penetrated. I pick it up and squeeze softly through the plastic. It feels completely melted through. With a swift flick of the wrist, I snap the plastic open and the aroma of plump, ripe, wild berries wafts upwards. Jah Goo’s dirty blonde color has transformed into golden amber.
The resin gleams with oil and expectation. Its satiny surface reflects like a mirror. Folding the resin in half, I snap one side of the plastic; and then the other, grabbing the resin simultaneously. Folding it one more time, I notice that the interior of the resin has retained its pre-melted color and rather than hold-ing firm, it separates like bread dough that is not fully kneaded. I place the resin between the plastic and begin rolling the bottle again. This time, the resin reacts even faster, spreading across the plastic as if running from the heat.
I begin shaping the Jah Goo hashish when the entire resin softens like warm marshmallows. Removing it from the plastic, I fold the resin in my hand twice, feeling the warmth radiating through my palm, and enjoying the fruity and spicy scents that tickle my nostrils. Using my first two fingers and my thumb, I begin shaping the resin into a cube. I squeeze firmly and squeeze again, before rotating, repeating the cycle until there are no wrinkles on the surface. Squeezing has removed the air pockets, leaving a dense block with sunken concave sides. I start pushing the corners in slightly, massaging the hashish into a juicy dumpling. I clasp my palms together and slowly roll my palms back and forth.
After getting a rhythm going I pause every 10 seconds to look at the progress of the ball of hashish. It has become as smooth as an egg and a similar oval shape. I love touching the resin, but hashish must not be overworked. The hashish is almost ready, and I roll faster smaller circles as it cools in my hand. Finally, it is a shimmering ball of Jah Goo hashish. It has become a taut, shiny marble glimmering in the light.
Traditionally, Temple Balls were rolled on a ceramic plate creating an impenetrable crust. Now, it’s often left with a stain sheer. I place the Temple Ball on a sheet of parchment paper. Oil continues to express itself more and it flattens on the bottom under its own weight. It is gorgeous and smells like sheer happiness. This is not the perfect Temple Ball of Frenchy’s memory, but I hope with a bit of aging, my offering to him will warm his heart even more.