Terpenes — a word you may be familiar with, or maybe only heard in passing in the shop. Regardless of your knowledge of them, we’re here to help you understand what Terpenes are, and why are they important for your cannabis experience.
Your Introduction Guide to Terpenes
First off: “what are terpenes?”—The answer is simple: they are the naturally occurring compounds that give plants, fruit, and even vegetables their distinct aromas. Terpenes are one of the reasons that we find certain things so attractive and enticing. These aromatics are no different from cannabis, which has high concentrations of them. Terpenes are one of the main drivers behind the different effects you feel from one strain of cannabis to the next!
The benefits of these compounds are often discussed when people refer to the various uses of essential oils, but as we are not medical professionals we will not be discussing the benefits of terpenes in cannabis. However, we highly recommend that you keep track of the cannabis cultivars or products that you enjoy and research their terpene profiles and the potential effects of those terpenes. You may find that there are trends between the cannabis products you consume and either enjoy or despise and specific terpene profiles…you may be reacting to a specific terpene, rather than the strain! This can help your quest to find the best bud for the best experience, every time.
For your convenience, we will be including both pronunciations and boiling points for dry herb vaping. Familiarity with terpenes may also be very beneficial for people who enjoy concentrates and dabbing, especially given how flavourful the terp sauces on the market are.
Two of the most common terpenes are ones you’re likely very familiar with.
The first is Myrcene (MUR-seen) (167°C/337°F), the #1 terpene found in cannabis. This terpene is known for its woody and almost spicy, clove-like aroma. You may recognize its scent from things like the earthiness of dried bay leaves and the sweet and bitter undertone of mangoes, such as the rind and around the seed. Strains that are very high in Myrcene include Mango Taffie, Blue Dream, and OG Kush, which all have a distinct fruit or herbal note to them.
The second is Limonene (LIM-oh-neen) (176°C/349°F) a terpene that is responsible for cannabis’ most potent fruity citrus aroma. You can smell Limonene in more than lemons, though; this terpene is present in rosemary, peppermint, and many other fruits! If you like strains like Tangie, Lemon Riot, OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, or Jack Herer, you’re probably a fan of this terpene!
Consider trying out the Limonene and Tonic or Myrcene and Tonic one day to get an isolated experience of these terpenes! Our budtenders at our cannabis dispensaries can explain their effects in more detail to you.
Other terps that are extremely common in cannabis include:
Humulene (Hue-mew-leen) (106°C/223°F) is another interesting and relatively common terp, one that, much like Myrcene, is responsible in part for that classic dank aroma. It also has the nose of something like decaying wood, and forest leaf litter. If you’ve ever smelled hops in your bud, this terpene is the reason! The much-loved classic, GSC, is incredibly high in Humulene, as are Bubba Kush and White Widow, all classic and chill hybrids that are well-loved for their effects. Some people believe that Humulene acts to curb appetite.
Pinene (pie-neen) (155°C/311°F) smells, and tastes, exactly how you would expect: like a walk through the Rockies. You may smell and taste pinene in rosemary and basil, too, but it’s got that classic profile of pine needles and coniferous tree sap. Any Jack Haze fan will tell you about the sweet, forest-like scent and flavour of the strain, but Blue Dream, Harlequin, and Purple Punch are also very high in pinene, which lends itself to clearer and more functional highs.
Caryophyllene (carry-OFF-uh-leen) (130°C/266°F) is the reason your bud smells and tastes like cloves or black pepper. This spicy, peppery terpene is common in…you guessed it, black pepper, but you may also recognize this aroma as the spiciness in oregano. You can catch this terp in the 90’s classic strain Chemdawg, or the crossbreeding favourites, Gelato and GSC. Even Candyland, a famously sweet strain, most commonly has caryophyllene as its dominant terp!
While there are literally thousands of terpenes, we’ve curated a select few for you to consider that are popular within the cannabis community and currently trending across LPs in their new 2021 strains.
Ocimene (ah-SEE-meen) (100°C/212°F), is what you’re picking up on when your bud smells, or tastes, especially sweet. This candy-like terpene only occurs in small amounts but has a real impact when your bud has been well-cured. Ocimene is responsible for the fruity exhale of Strawberry Cough, the tangy sugar of Sour Diesel, and the faint honey flavour of Golden Goat. With its low boiling point, this terpene is easily lost unless targeted in a dry herb vaporizer.
Farnesene (FAR-na-seen) (124°C/255°F) is most easily recognizable in green apples. It is that sweet and slightly tart apple smell in the back of your nose after a sharp bite into the fruit. This terpene is often found accompanied by sweet and sour terpenes, often leading to strains like Zour Apple and Apple Toffee.
Linalool (lin-UH-lool) (198°C/388°F) is famously recognized for its lavender scent and flavour. If you have ever tried the Solei Unplug cartridge or literally any lavender tea or pastry, you will immediately recognize this terpene. This extremely calm terpene is easily recognized in strains like Zktlz, Ice Cream Cake, and Gabriola.
Terpinolene (ter-PIN-oh-lean) (186°C/367°F) as a terpene often only occurs in small amounts. Being a bit of a wallflower, it lets other terps take the spotlight, serving as an accent and a stylist for the buzz of a strain. This terp is nebulous and seems to take on an aroma that compliments the terpene composition that surrounds it. Terpinolene can smell like flowers, citrus, pine, and herbs…all quintessential cannabis aromas. If you like lilacs, you will recognize the floral aroma of terpinolene. Cumin is also high in this terpene, which lends well to the type of bite that Ghost Train Haze has, and the herbal flavour in Golden Goat. The hard-to-pin, dynamic scent of Jack Herer can also be attributed to this terpene.
Bisabolol (bees-AH-bo-lawl) (153°C/307°F) is most famous for its influence on chamomile’s scent and flavour. While it is a terp that occurs in smaller volumes, its impact is undeniable, adding a wonderful, soothing experience to your bud. Because of its soft floral nature, it can be easily overpowered by other terpenes and may require some targeting in order to directly experience. If your nose is keen, you may pick up on some nuttiness from this terpene as well. This terp frequently occurs in Pink Kush, ACDC, Headband, Wedding Cake, and Meat Breath.
Nerolidol (nerh-o-leh-DOL) (122°C/252°F) if you have ever smelled bud that reminds you of rose bushes or tree bark, you’ve likely picked up on nerolidol. This terpene is very common in things like lemongrass, ginger, neroli, and even citronella—if you can imagine the woody, fruity scent of any of these, you probably have a good grasp on this terpene. Marley Gold (Island Sweet Skunk) is very high in this terpene, along with Starwalker Kush/Galaxywalker OG, and a couple of strains already mentioned, like GSC, Chemdawg, and Sour Diesel.
Guaiol (G-why-EE-ol, like quail) (92°C/198°F) With its low boiling point, this terpene is easily destroyed when lit and maybe best enjoyed in a dry herb vape. Another rare terpene to finish this list, with a cypress wood aroma, also faintly reminiscent of roses, not unlike the aroma of hiking around Nakusp or up Norquay. If you have ever ground fresh nutmeg, guaiol is responsible for that wet earth and wood aroma. If you can recognize the earthy, almost piney undertones of Sensi Star, Chocolope, and White Widow, you have a great nose for this terpene.
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