As more states legalize marijuana, consumer are discovering more and more varieties. Expert growers are creating a new market for the cannabis aficionado with a more refined palette. How do weed tastings fit in?
The industry is slowly developing into a scene that reminds many of the boutique wine or craft beer industries. Yes, consumers can now tailor their herb purchases to their own unique taste and style.
“This is similar to the wine industry, which depends on defined varieties such as chardonnay or merlot for high value products,” said Jörg Bohlmann, a professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and faculty of forestry at the University of British Columbia. “Our genomics work can inform breeders of commercial varieties which genes to pay attention to for specific flavour qualities.”
Bohlmann says the economic potential of a regulated cannabis industry is huge, but a current challenge is that growers are working with a crop that is not well standardized and highly variable for its key natural product profiles.
“There is a need for high-quality and consistent products made from well defined varieties.” he said.
With that in mind, here are some tips for you to consider when selecting the type of marijuana that’s perfect for you:
What’s That Smell?
Some connoisseurs prefer their cannabis to have a citrusy, lemony aroma. Others are into an earthy smell and still others pine for the piney odor. Like wine or beer, there is a type of marijuana — or strain — for everybody.
RELATED: Why Your Marijuana Smells Skunky
Terpenes are essential oils in cannabis that provide the fragrance in foods and herbs. When you take a whiff of basil, for example, what you are smelling are the terpenes. Cannabis strains also have unique terpenes that provide specific aromas. Some strains smell spicy (caryophyllene) or floral (linalool) or piney (alpha-pinene).
Nearly 200 terpenes have been found in cannabis. The terpenoid profile varies wildly from strain to strain. Martin A. Lee, a cannabis expert, author and co-founder of Project CBD, has studied the science of terpenes and sees a future in which companies will manufacture “made-to-order marijuana extracts with a full array of terpenes artfully tailored to meet the needs and desires of individual users.”
But that’s the future. For now, take the time to smell the flower. Whether you like floral or musky or citrusy, there is a bud for you.
Does The Nug Look Healthy?
Ideally, the marijuana bud will look full and plush. Also take a look and see if you see hairs of different colors (purples, yellows) and you can easily identify if the bud is loaded with trichomes, the almost microscopic crystals covering the bud. If it is a premier nug, it may look like it’s covered in frost. Most of the plant’s essential oils are found in the trichomes.
So look for frosty nugs. Most experts prefer large buds and most professional trimmers are great at shaping the nugs to appeal to the consumer’s visual aesthetic. But small buds can pack a punch, too. Look for colorful hairs and frost.
Give It A Taste
When you smoke marijuana, the act of combustion will certainly alter the taste. The best way to experience the flavor of cannabis is by vaporization. This method allows the consumer to truly taste the terpenes and evaluate it. But if you are a smoker, then you’ll need to judge the taste after lighting it.
Have you ever seen a sommelier taste wine? It may look pretentious, but these pros know what they’re doing. To properly taste smoke cannabis give this method a try:
Take a medium toke off the joint or pipe. Let it fill your mouth. Do NOT hold it in until your lungs give out. Just let the smoke coat the tissue in your mouth. Open your mouth and gently exhale. Once your mouth is clear of smoke, stop and assess the taste. Are you experiencing any of the terpenes? I suggest doing a second small toke to verify your first impressions.
For some tokers, especially beginners, two hits may be enough to feel slight euphoria — depending on the potency. Clearly, this is not like wine tasting. Leave the challenge of multiple tastings to the experts.
How Is It Working For You?
This, obviously, is the most important part and the often the most difficult to judge. How high does it get you? Do you feel lazy? Happy? Goofy? Creative?
It is wise to take notes. Keep a journal and record how you react to each strain of cannabis. And do NOT listen to how it makes others feel. What makes you creative may make your friend lazy. Everybody reacts to cannabis differently, which is why it’s important for you to do your own homework. Relying on the recommendations of others may lead you astray.
Besides, the joy of personal discovery is part of the benefits of cannabis.
Why Touching It May Not Be Proper Etiquette
It is not a smart idea to pick up someone’s bud and examine it clumsily in your hand. The trichomes are fragile little buggers and a heavy touch will almost certainly make them fall from the bud.
Handle with care. It is, after all, a delicate flower. Treat it like one.