Cannabis is such a complex little plant! Amongst the thousands of available cannabis strains, 113 cannabinoids and over 400 terpenes have been identified, leading to an almost endless variety of tastes, aromas and effects.
What’s a Terpene?
Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds that are responsible for the way plants smell and taste. More than 30,000 terpenes have been identified in nature, with over 400 of those occurring in cannabis plants in some form – though experts have only linked a handful of them to specific effects.
Terpenes occur naturally in cannabis in various concentrations and combinations. A cannabis strain with less than 0.5% terpenes would be considered to have a low concentration and would be very lightly flavoured, whereas cannabis with 3-5% or higher terpenes is considered very high, with very rich aromas and flavours.
It’s not uncommon for a cannabis strain to have dozens of terpenes or more, but typically a strain is most influenced by its top 1-3 terpenes, which we refer to as the “dominant terpene.” For example, a very common terpene is Limonene, and there are many strains such as Sour Tangie where Limonene is a dominant terpene. These strains tend to have strong citrus flavours with notes of lemon and orange peel. By reviewing the dominant terpenes in each strain, you should have a good sense of what kind of flavours to expect.
The Entourage Effect
Cannabis users find that different strains of cannabis affect them differently. Some energize, while others sedate. This is believed to be caused by the “entourage effect,” which describes how the complex cocktail of compounds work in concert to uniquely affect the physiology of the user.