Thursday, July 14, 2016

Incense Talk

Next into the white sage incense goes pine resin, wild harvested by me and my friend, Shannon, two years ago in the Sierra Nevadas. It's Ponderosa pine resin, which smells fruity and sweet until you begin to grind it, then it smells fruity, sweet, and ever so slightly poopy. Thankfully it doesn't burn poopy, or that poopy isn't the goal or desired effect my customers seek, otherwise making incense would be as easy as taking a walk in the dog park with a baggie in my hand. The more elements that are added to this white sage incense, the less white sagey it becomes. I'm happy with the way it is evolving, and I'm wondering if a bit of gin wouldn't help it along. As we all know, everything is a little better after a bit of gin! Seriously, though, a nice, high proof alcohol splashed into a powder incense, even if it's mean to be dry (because it will eventually dry), helps to release some of the oils from the crushed herbs so they meld more completely, and any resins added to the incense will disperse more easily if slightly melted with alcohol. It's me using Kyphi making techniques for non-Kyphi incense, and the results have been phenomenal.

On the Kyphi incense I'm working on, the one with bergamot peel and blue lotus, I'm thinking of working it out a little differently in the end, leaving it 'chunky' and using a different technique to melt the honey (palm sugar) and resins into it. So, technically, it isn't a true Kyphi, more like the bastard child of Syriac-Kupar and Kyphi. I call it Klsaiovjaoejalerhlgakremfirhn. Not really. I just call it compounded incense ~ ha-ha! Anyway, this batch is going to the Orient for some reason -- it's got the bergamot, the lotus, next some true Indian sandalwood, then maybe some saffron, some benzoin or Chinese amber, lots of Indian sourced frankincense, myrrh. I'm still working out what herbs to add -- maybe a wee titch of patchouli leaf -- we'll see how it goes. This is fully orchestrated by the incense itself, so I have to give it time to figure itself out and then direct my hand.

Last week, on our trip to Fresno, I stopped into my favorite market, the Asian market on Olive and First Street. The variety and quantity of locally grown herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables is nearly limitless. I grabbed a bundle of Asian herbs that smelled strongly of lemon (not lemongrass, though they do have bundles of that too), and some Thai basil, among other things -- ooh, pickling cucumbers and a nice seedy watermelon. So I bring home this bundle of Asian herbs, the lemony one, and start drying it out because I want to use it in cooking and maybe sprinkle a bit in some future incense, but I still don't know exactly what it is. Before it became too wilty, I went online to find out what it was, and it turns out it's Lao basil! I had never heard of Lao basil. Let me just say for the record that Lao basil is beautiful -- I sprinkled some on some fresh melon and it tasted really clean and bright. Now I'm determined to return to the market next time I'm in Fresno and buy up a few bundles to dry for the eating and the incensing of it.

This is my balm, this work. This is what keeps me going from day to day. Without it, I might not still be here. Love what you do.

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