Have you ever wondered why different strains of cannabis have unique flavor profiles and aromas? For instance, some strains have a distinct skunky taste that’s as strong as can be, while others give you a bright and citrusy flavor that’s very subtle. Well, the truth is that your taste buds aren’t deceiving you. In fact, flavor profiles can vary tremendously from strain to strain, and it’s all because of terpenes.
Up until recently, terpenes have played second fiddle to the big-player cannabinoids like CBD, THC and CBN. But, as more and more researchers are studying the unique effects of cannabis on the human body, more and more people are learning about the unique benefits of terpenes, the plant compounds that are found in the plant’s essential oils.
Besides providing people with potential healing activity, terpenes are what determine the flavor and aroma of a strain. That’s because what makes each strain unique is its specific composition of terpenes. Each terpene offers its own benefits as well as its own taste and smell. So, depending on which strain you choose, your flavor is completely influenced by the unique set of terpenes present in that particular strain.
How Terpenes Work
So, why do terpenes have their own flavors and smells, anyway? The main purpose of terpenes, as it turns out, is to attract certain living creatures while repelling others. Each strain of cannabis has its own predators and pollinators, and it must attract the insects that will pollinate it by warding off pests and other creatures that can cause harm. And, what better way to do that by having a unique smell and taste?
This, in fact, is true of all plants. Flowers, for example, give off unique aromas that attract certain pollinators while preventing themselves from being eaten by regional plant-eating bugs. And, as you can see, it’s the same for terpenes. What makes terpenes unique, however, is that aside from protecting the plant, they can help us tremendously. Terpenes can help us feel relief from pain, anxiety and more.
Why Different Strains Have Different Flavors
Like we said, each terpene has its own unique taste. So, think of each strain of cannabis as a recipe. You take a little bit of limonene, a lot of linalool and a pinch of pinene. What do you get? A totally unique flavor profile that’s unique to that strain.
Knowing the Flavor of a Strain: Why It’s so Important
So, what does it matter? After all, we’re not consuming the plant because of its taste. However, knowing the unique flavor of each terpene can actually help us purchase a superior product.
For one thing, knowing how each terpene should taste can help you pick out which products are not made with care. For instance, if you know that a specific strain is renowned for tasting like fresh citrus fruits, if you purchase a product containing that strain and you’re not getting that citrus flavor, something has gone wrong. Either the delicate terpenes were damaged during the extraction process or the company is flat out lying to you.
Additionally, knowing the flavor profile of each strain can help you become a better expert at the plant overall. You’ll be able to detect nuances in flavor that can help you get a better idea of how much of a particular terpene is in a strain. You can use this to create standards when you’re trying out other products.
Popular Terpenes and Their Unique Flavors
Now, let’s get into what each terpene brings to the flavor profile of a strain. We all know that the plant naturally has an earthy, woodsy taste, but the more you familiarize yourself with these unique terpenes’ flavors, the more you’ll be able to detect the nuances of each strain’s flavor profile. And, believe it or not, that can make the experience of tasting your product more enjoyable.
- Pinene: Pinene, unsurprisingly, has a taste that’s similar to pine needles. That’s because this terpene is also heavily present in pine trees and rosemary. It adds an herbaceous kick to any strain.
- Carophyllene: Has a terpene product ever tasted spicy to you? If so, you weren’t imagining it. Carophyllene is known to taste like black pepper, and it helps provide a subtle amount of heat to certain strains. This makes sense given the fact that this terpene is found in black pepper as well as cloves, rosemary, oregano and basil, all plants known for having a bit of spice.
- Borneol: Borneol has an evergreen-like taste that’s slightly minty and slightly similar to pine. The flavor is described as wintery, and for good reason. Needless to say, borneol is naturally prominent in evergreen trees.
- Linalool: Linalool is a very floral-tasting terpene that, in high concentrations, can sometimes give off a soapy taste. Linalool is naturally present in a wide variety of flowers as well as oranges, mint, cinnamon and birch trees.
- Myrcene: Myrcene has a very earthy taste, and it’s found in a wide variety of plants including mangoes, lemongrass and thyme. If you’ve ever noticed that all strains have a distinctly earthy taste, it’s because of myrcene. Myrcene happens to be the dominant terpene in almost every strain.
- Limonene: Limonene is dominant in citrus fruits, which is why it adds such a zesty, citrusy taste to any strain. It’s very similar to the taste of a lemon, but when combined with certain other terpenes, it can take on a more orange-like flavor.
- Eucalyptol: Eucalyptol, commonly associated with the eucalyptus plant, is extremely minty and slightly earthy. If you’ve ever smelled eucalyptus essential oil, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
- Terpineol: Terpineol is found in many teas, and it has an earthy flavor that has notes of sweet lilac.
- Nerolidol: Nerolidol is a woodsy-tasting terpene that adds depth to the flavor profile of any strain. It’s naturally abundant in plants like tea tree, jasmine and ginger.
What’s Your Flavor?
The next time you observe a plant’s flavor profile, consider the terpenes that allow it to taste the way that it does. The terpenes above can dramatically alter the taste of a specific strain based on their concentrations.