Marijuana has come a long way, and there’s a vast array of strains that feature a wide variety of flavors. From sweet to fruity to earthy, tastes and textures abound. You also won’t have to worry about losing potency and strength.
Understanding what’s behind the amazing flavor of your favorite buds is no easy task. But as the medical and legal cannabis markets expand and this booming industry builds legitimacy, the latest scientific research is making it crystal clear: There’s far more to marijuana than just the well-known cannabinoids like THC and CBD.
Indeed, the word “terps” (short for “terpenes” or “terpenoids”) is thrown around quite a bit these days, employed as a catchall term to describe the scents and tastes associated with various cannabis strains. But what are terps, and how do they affect the aroma and flavor of our best-loved strains?
Technically, terpenes are a large class of organic hydrocarbons produced by a wide variety of plants, not just cannabis; they’re referred to as “terpenoids” if they become denatured by oxidation (such as during the drying and curing process). In simpler terms, terps are the essential oils or primary building blocks of any plant resin, and they contribute a great deal to the scent, flavor, and colors of the plant. Some recent research even suggests that terpenoids may contribute to the psychoactive effects of cannabis as well, either singularly or via the “entourage effect”—the total compounded influence of all the cannabinoids and terpenoids contained in dried cannabis flowers.
The List of Strains
We’ve managed to whittle down all the options and zero in on the best-tasting strains. Although flavor has everything to do with how a product is grown, cured, stored, and processed, genetics play a role as well. Over the years, these strains have proven to be top contenders in the flavor game, consistently showing off rich terpene profiles that not only govern a strain’s smell, but enhance the strain’s effects as well.
Surprise! Landrace Durban Poison is a pure sativa and has been known to hit upwards of 24% THC. What hasn’t been known until recently is that her true phenotype exhibits an extremely rare terpene profile that not only includes a heavy dose of myrcene, but also the less common terpinolene. At 23.8 mg/g, this is among the highest concentrations of terpinolene found in any strain on the planet, giving the Durban Poison a refreshing piney aroma with a very sweet floral flavor. At just over 4% total terps—a serving size usually reserved for concentrates, not flowers—the Durban perches atop The List with a heavy lead.
Sugar Black Rose
If there’s one strain that never fails to take newbies by surprise…as in newbies to this particular strain…it’s Sugar Black Rose. Blaze a bowl of this stuff and you’re effectively blasting a concentrated dose of ultra-sweet and powerful tropical fruit notes into the air, the likes of which are impressive to say the least. What Sugar Black Rose manages to do perfectly is keep that distinctive floral note in its aroma, without in any way translating to an overly-perfumed flavour when smoked. It’s there in the background, but it’s predominantly the tropical fruit notes that take over both before and after the buds are lit.
Nameless OG Strain
An appropriate name for an OG Kush phenotype that represents the seemingly endless parade of OG phenos that grace our pages and our competitions year after year. This OG tip the scales at just over 3% on her terp count, which is on par with some concentrates. Her diverse terp profile, which includes humulene and pinene as well as high levels of limonene and myrcene, solidifies her place near the top of The List.
True to its name, this strain is a blissful union of flavors that will open your mind on dark days and fill it with positive vibes. It is a Sativa dominant hybrid that is the best choice to benefit users suffering from pain, nausea, and appetite loss. The primary terpene composition includes pinene, limonene, myrcene, linalool, nerolidol, and fenchol. This perfect mixture causes a dominant trace of lemon and pine in the flavor profile accompanied by a parade of fruity flavors and earthy tones. It comes with about 25% THC concentration that gives an intense high. This strain can serve the purpose of relieving muscle cramps, pain, and discomfort and also adds energy to the user. Users often compliment that the flavors, along with the cannabinoids, help elevate focus and cerebral thinking. It is best suited for use during problem-solving scenarios or when you are on your creative endeavors. The strain takes over ten weeks for flowering. Yet, the potent benefits possible from this strain makes it a user favorite.
Somango is the offspring of three different strains. These strains include the heavy hitters Big Skunk Korean, Jack Herer, and Super Skunk. Each of these Somango antecedents has THC levels that hover between 17 and 28%, respectively.
Veganic Cherry Cough Strain
By now, it’s no secret that buds grown organically tend to do much better when it comes to flavor and aroma. Perhaps that’s because they’re easier to flush without all the salts that synthetic nutrients carry—or perhaps it’s because organic nutes are simply better at giving plants what they need to build great terp profiles and maximize their genetic potential. Either way, when buds are grown veganically—as was the case with this Kushman Genetics original, grown using Kushman’s own Vegamatrix nutrient line—the results are extraordinary. With hints of linalool and pinene mixed with limonene, we’re talking Tropical Starburst flavor all the way. And in case you’re wondering, her lineage looks like this: (Strawberry Cough x Cherry Lopez) x Strawberry Cough.
Somango doesn’t necessarily sound very appealing. However, users get a hint of fruity sweetness along with a kick of tropical, berry earthiness. It also exhibits an exotic and profound, dank herb flavor.
Super Silver Haze Strain
One of Amsterdam’s original classics, the Super Silver Haze has become a building block for many of todays staple Haze strains. A sativa-dominant hybrid created by mixing pure Haze with Skunk #1 and Northern Lights #5, the SSH has parented strains like the Amnesia Haze, Super Lemon Haze and Blue Dream.
A product of two exquisitely flavored strains, Blueberry x Super Silver Haze, the Blue Dream offers strong, fruity tones and a sugary-sweet flavor. The winner of countless Cannabis Cups, she often scores perfect 5’s on the judges’ scorecards and will fill a room with her pungent berry aroma as soon as a bud is cracked.
If you’re looking to one-up your usual cannabis routine, nothing shakes it up more than the Game Changer strain. As the name implies, it is one that potentially sets a whole new standard.
It is incredibly potent; its THC level tops out at an unbelievable 29%. Therefore, it’s not one for those just getting adjusted to THC. Instead, it is ideal for those who are looking for a new level of cannabis use. It is not only potent, but it boasts a delicious grape flavor and a sweet, full-bodied candy undertone.
Its parentage, Game Changer is a cross between Purple Dragon and the lush Green Thai. This combination leads it into a sharp, skunky territory. It has a slight cheesy tang, but its berry flavor melds quite well with a distinctive floral and slightly citrusy pungency. It is a remarkable blending of sweet and savory.
Creatively named, the Tropicanna has the rich lineage one would expect from a great-tasting strain and Cup winner: (Pineapple x Kali Mist) x (Northern Lights #5 x Haze). The Kali Mist brings overtones of orange citrus, while the Pineapple and NL #5 provide the sweetness. With potency levels ranging from 20% to 24% THC, the Tropicanna’s combo of high terpenes and powerful cannabinoids has made it a rising star in 2015.
True OG Strain
It’s no surprise that OG Kush would show up on The List twice, with literally hundreds of OG phenos and OG-dominant hybrids out there. However, this True OG lives up to her name as one of the truest (if not the truest) on the planet. Of all the original OG cuts, she remains the closest to the storied San Fernando Valley OG, with strong ties to the flavor and aroma of the Chem ’91 as well (also a sibling of the OG line).
Bubblegum XL harkens back to a simpler, less complicated time. Its sweet notes of bubblegum and candy leave users with nostalgic yearning. It is heavily sativa and has some sedative effects. You may find it useful for a joyful night in or if you are just relaxing around the house.
Its THC level is around 19%, making it an excellent high without being overly buzzy. It is descended from the strains Santa Maria and Power Plant and has a rapid growth time at 8-9 weeks. The downside is that it generally doesn’t have a large yield.
This one not only took home a first-place prize at Michigan Cup, but it also received some of the highest marks ever recorded from our judges for both taste and aroma. That just shows it’s not always the quantity, but rather the quality, of the terps present in a given strain that makes it special—in this case, a highly unique terpene combo that provided this Grapefruit cross with the delicious candy flavor suggested by its name, earning it a spot on The List.
Speaking of strains that smell exactly like fruit, this list would never be complete without the mention of Blueberry. Without Blueberry, there would be no Blue Dream, no Blue Cheese, no Blue Cookies; “Blue” hybrids simply wouldn’t exist. You’ll notice all of these strains carry a blueberry-like smell, but few can match the original Blueberry’s uncanny resemblance to a bushel of overripe blueberries plucked straight from the branch.
Strawberry Banana Strain
Description: Another super terp combo, the Strawberry Banana has been steadily gaining in popularity over the past few years. A hybrid cross of Banana OG and the classic Bubblegum from TH Seeds (Amsterdam, circa 1993), this strain contains volatile terpenoids that burst when they hit the air, inspiring mouths across the room to salivate. Plus her flavor is as just advertised, invoking visions of a Bazooka Joe–Toucan Sam mash-up.
Lavender is a beautifully intricate strain that smells like–oh, you guessed it–lavender. Like an all-in-one bouquet, Lavender also offers up sweet accents of wildflower, rose, and violet underneath a layer of woody earthiness.
[Updated, originally published 7.2.2017]
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