This is a process for the dedicated enthusiast. It's my preference but results will obviously vary.
You'll need time, a few large pots, citric acid and the cacti varieties of your choice.
- 2 or more people will make the bulk of this process much easier, as will a grape press/similar device.
-Select the material you will be using for the tea, the older and the larger quantity of it the better so that you can ascertain the strength of the batch of tea you will be producing. The process takes a long time so I find 20 feet or so makes it nice and viable as you are able to ascertain the strength of the material with the first couple of bioassays before enjoying your sweet spot (please note: sweet spots may vary ) You can modify this process and use freshly cut younger material but I find the product resulting from the use of older material and the longer process superior. Write down the total weight/number of feet used somewhere.
- In an ideal situation take material from 20-30cm above the base of your older cacti (those you are willing to chop), replanting the tip of the plant (once calloused) and allowing the base to retain its (hopefully) established root system and send out fast growing pups. Set this material aside for a year in a location where it is unlikely to mold, checking while it calluses regularly for signs of mold and then much less frequently once its fully callused (after a month). Note: This step is optional, it just produces a better end result IMO
- Despine your cactus and then remove the core and keep all of the remaining material (you can discard the most outer waxy skin I don't as you might lose a small amount of the alkaloid rich inner green material doing so)
- DO NOT BLEND YOUR MATERIAL. Chop the remaining material into very small pieces (approx 5mm-1cm squared or so) whilst you bring a large pot (or multiple pots in the case of larger batches) of water to the boil.
- Add some citric acid (you can get it from the supermarket) and/or the juice of a couple of lemons or limes to the water of each pot to improve extraction efficiency- citric acid is very cheap throw a couple of teaspoons in each pot overkill maybe but you won't be tasting it, vineagar works pretty well too. Add the chopped material to the pots
- You want the water bubbling a little bit, not going crazy, stir the pots every 10-20 minutes or so at this early stage, you don't want it all staying at the bottom of the pot and sticking to it. This goes on for four of five hours with a few top ups, this first simmer is the most important of the three you will do, don't skimp too much on time if you can help it. Read a book, do some work and/or write some emails while time passes. Once you've got the liquid down to a reasonable level (low in the pots but not so low that the cactus material is catching) decant the liquid from the pots into a large bucket or buckets if it is an especially large batch, saving both the liquid and the cactus chunks. Take one or two pots and place them in the sink. If you have a grape press you can save a lot of time here. Get all your cactus chunks and run them through the grape press, decanting the resulting liquid into the pots in the sink. The press will get all of the fluid out of the material easily. Add the resulting liquid to your happy liquid buckets. If you don't have a grape press get an old t shirt/some thick cheesecloth, the thickest rubber gloves you can and a mate to help you. Gather manageable amounts of cactus chips up in the t shirt and squeeze as much fluid out of them as your happy with into the pots in the sink. This fluid is obviously really hot liquid, thick, thick rubber gloves here or double wrapped hands. By hand this is painstaking and takes ages, take as long with this as your comfortable with. Its your material and its up to you how much extraction efficiency matters. A grape press makes this step extremely quick and effective- heaven.
- If you've used a grape press gather the pressed cactus and repeat the process outlined in the previous two steps once more (once again adding the citric acid/vineagar). If your doing it by hand repeat the previous two steps twice, with the third simmer being a boil and a couple of hours shorter (most, if not all of the alkaloids should be out of the material).
- Discard the leftover cactus material, it is now devoid of interesting alkaloids. Gather all of the happy liquid buckets and place the liquid back on the stove in pots on a very low simmer. This part takes a very, very long time. Ideally do it in shifts and/or over a couple of days. Reduce the liquid down to a lower and lower volume, stirring as required, it will progressively darken in colour. If its a large batch combine all the liquid into one large pot once its down to a manageable level and is getting a little syrupy. Once it starts getting darker in colour and a little syrupy take very good care of it and stir it frequently. You don't want it catching or solidifying at this point and destroying the fruits of all your hard work.
- Decant the syrup into the smallest suitable pot it will fit into once it starts getting thicker, stir very frequently- try not to leave the stove. This is done to reduce the syrups exposure to a wider hot surface so that the volume can be reduced to the absolute maximum point before it solidifies/begins to catch.
- Once you've got the volume down as low as you're confident getting it without it catching turn off the heat and decant the syrup onto a large platter, spreading it out as much as possible.
- What your now going to do is make this concentrated ish into the smallest malleable resin balls you can get away with.
- Work the smallest possible amount of flour into this spread out syrup that you can, folding it back on itself so that the flour coats the inside and outside of the syrup lightly (we are trying to minimize volume. DON'T USE SELF RAISING FLOUR. DON'T.) The syrup should still be annoyingly sticking to your fingers a bit and be a little hard to remove from your hands. Now leave the syrup alone for a day somewhere with reasonable air exchange where it can dry out. Clean up your smelly (and possibly syrupy and or resinous) kitchen and pots and pans before it becomes any more difficult to do so.
- Return to your platter of resin. It should have dried out a little and be less sticky on your hands. Again add a very small amount of flour, folding it in on itself for a while before spreading it out flat on the platter again. Leave it for a couple of days before returning to it. Return to your platter. The resin should now be a little hard on the outside and no longer sticky on your fingers. If its still sticky repeat this process. Now work the resin with your hands, rolling it into a ball or balls (size varies by amount of material originally used). The warmth of your hands should soften the material a little and make it very malleable, it will be a little like the consistency of softer heated charas. Get a set of reasonably accurate scales and weigh the ball/balls. Divide the weight by the number of feet used. Separate the resin ball into small balls of this amount with the aid of the scale to make for uniform accurate dosage. Once the heat of your hands has left the balls for a while their exterior will harden off so they won't stick together if stored together. You can get them malleable again with a bit of rubbing and rolling. They can be frozen (recommended) and then thawed but have been stored bagged at room temperature for 4-5 months without molding and no noticeable loss of potency. Two feet of 7cm diameter bridge gets down to the volume of a ľ t-1/3 of a tennis ball in resin.
When dosing the resin can be rolled up and stuffed into capsules which will not expand when they hit the stomach (some friends do this) or alternatively one takes their large resin ball or balls and with their hands works pieces of it into small, easily swallowed balls and eats as they are made- while they are still a little warm. Drop a ball to the back of your throat and immediately chase it down with fluid. Done quickly they are pretty much tasteless. Most people like this method. Carbonated beverages work best for this as they will push the balls down the esophagus faster than water alone (they are slightly gummy once swallowed, so make them small so they slide down with relative ease). Most people seem to alternate sips of water and a carbonated beverage when downing the balls (not beer dudes, not beer ). Coke eats away at any and everything as well as settles the stomach so it can be a good choice for this purpose if you can get over its evilness (avoid drinking too much carbonated fluid, don't drink an amount that would bloat you normally.). If one is particularly squeamish/ wants to completely eliminate the taste these balls can be dipped in flour or honey and then swallowed as above. Consume the desired dose over the course of half an hour to an hour so as to minimize bodily stress, reduce nausea and instances of vomiting. From what I have seen everyone is able to get this down without too much trouble. Many report duration of nausea is reduced compared to consumption of fresh material or syrup and if they vomit generally can keep the material down longer than with tea. It seems that taste seems to be largely responsible for early onset nausea. Consumed this way nausea starts for most around the two hour mark. Some people vomit and some people don't, just as with normal brews. For an easier ride try and eat healthily in the days leading up to the experience and avoid large amounts of alcohol and stimulants. I'd avoid meat the day of the experience personally and not eat for 2-4 hours before beginning resin consumption. The higher the dose the larger the percentage of yakkers.
Edited by benjahman, 18 October 2007 - 02:41 AM.