Why can’t I taste my weed?

Lorena Cupcake, named “Best Budtender in Chicago”, has answered hundreds of questions from cannabis buyers and patients during her time as a budtender. And now they are turning that experience into a monthly column of advice. Ask a budget tender. Do you have a question for Cupcake? Send your questions to askabudtender@weedmaps.com.

Hello cupcake.

I’ve been a long-time cannabis user and I use a bong almost exclusively. I giggled for a long time when budtenders and online cannabis resources discussed the taste of buds. “I don’t care about the taste,” I said to myself, “I just care about the high!”

But I keep hearing more and more about the taste of different varieties and how important it is to some people. So I started to wonder if I was missing something.

I’ve heard that when the smoke filters through the water of a bong, some of the terpenes can be washed out, but I don’t know if that’s true. Am I doing something wrong or am I just genetically predisposed to not being able to taste my weed?

Many Thanks,


Dear Marc,

Have you read the old fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes? Sometimes I wonder if the flavors of “light chewing gum” and “grape candy,” which supposedly come in different flavors, don’t really exist, just like the Kaiser’s chic new fit. By pretending to try them, we all fall for the trick.

I’ve never smoked a Blueberry OG that really tasted like blueberries, but I notice distinct differences in smell between the varieties. Although humans use different organs to taste and smell, all of the information we ingest converges in the orbital cortex. If you’ve ever lost interest in food due to a stuffy nose, you know how important your sense of smell is to taste.

I shared your question with John Maden, a cannabis sommelier who offers strain pairings and educational programs for dinner parties through his Boston-based company Buddha Som. “If you can identify the bouquet of the bud, you can begin to identify the effect as you familiarize yourself with different flavor profiles over time,” he said. “You will learn how to effectively anticipate the chemistry that has controlled your high.”

Below is how to separate the unique aromas and scents of different cannabis strains from one another.

Do a taste test

At the beginning, Maden suggested that they enlist the help of a budtender. Choose three types of flowers with very different terpene profiles. After bringing them home and storing them in airtight containers, possibly with some moisture control packs, pull them out daily for a blind test. “Get a small piece of coffee grounds or fresh coffee beans to clean the roof of your mouth between inhalations and stick your nose full into the container one at a time,” he explained. “At some point you will be very, very familiar with the bouquets of the three varieties you bought and be on your way to figuring out which bouquet suits you best.”

Gina Coleman / Weed Cards

Another technique he suggested is that Dry transport or dry train. Before it lights up, suck air through your smoking device to see the bouquet of unroasted flower meet your nose and tongue. Try to dry each new strain you try at least once.

While a bong may not be the best candidate for dry shipping, most terpenes aren’t particularly water-soluble. When I use low temperature dabs of terpene-rich live sauce, I can taste the garliciness of GMOs right through the rig. Unfortunately, I suspect that the problem with your aqueduct isn’t the water, but the plumbing.

How burning can affect taste

Since humans have controlled fire since the caveman days, it’s easy to forget that combustion is a complex chemical reaction between fuel and oxygen.

We are surrounded by organic materials made up of carbon-based compounds. Cannabis follows the same laws of thermodynamics as any other organic material, be it campfire wood or pure platinum. To use an example we’re all familiar with, I picked butter in a pan.

Gentle heat leads to organic compounds evaporate or evaporatewithout changing significantly from their original shape. When you heat butter in a pan over low heat, you smell sweet, rich notes of creamy milk long before something boils off or burns.

Gina Coleman / Weed Cards

After evaporation / evaporation, a step is called Pyrolysiswhich is just a fancy Greek word for “fire failure”. During this step, the chemical composition changes significantly. Brown butter is partially pyrolysed – sugar molecules in the butter have been caramelized, creating caramel-colored polymers and releasing nutty, roasted volatile compounds.

When exposed to higher temperatures, organic materials begin to break down in processes known as oxidation and carbonization. When heat breaks the bonds between molecules, a gas of atoms and energy is released that sometimes reacts with oxygen to form flames.

Some carbon creates the gas and particles that make up visible smoke. The rest remains as a charred residue. Whether it’s burnt butter, a redeemed bowl, or the last dregs in a coffee pot, you’ve got something blackened and bitter.

Why vaping creates the best taste

Over a hundred beneficial compounds, each with their own boiling point, have been identified in cannabis. Terpenes, the essential oils that give cannabis its natural smell and taste, begin to activate at temperatures as low as 264 ° F. By comparison, the flame on an average lighter is around 600 ° F – hot enough to burn off terpenes before you ever try them.

“I’d say anyone who really wants to appreciate the bouquet of a bud should vaping,” said Maden. That’s because vaporizers make it easy to maintain even heat at around 330 to 365 degrees, which creates an aerosol of airborne droplets of oil. Unlike smoke, which is unfortunately full of things like carbon monoxide, benzene, and soot, there is no burning cellulose between you and the taste of your flower. When you light up, “you’re letting that burn hinder your appreciation of the terpenes you’ve vaporized.”

Gina Coleman / Weed Cards

As someone who likes Roor and Volcano alike, I know that a cold turkey switch to vaping is easier said than done. If you want to smoke, Maden said, “Don’t use a lighter – get a hemp wick and carefully light the bowl with hemp wick. If you’ve ever had issues with dry puffing or dry pulling, don’t just torch it because all you are going to get is butane fumes. “

When you’ve scrubbed out your bong and filled it with sparkling clean water, fill it with a familiar flower from your blind tests. Take a dry stretch and see which notes of the bouquet come through. Check if you can spot any of these aromas in your smoke. If you’re still missing the taste, it may be time to experiment with alternative recording methods that emphasize terpene profiles.

For example, if you attend a dinner like the one that Buddha Som is hosting, you will try combinations of ingredients that complement and highlight selected varieties. When you’re not ready to dab, live rosin oil cartridges are an easily accessible way to enjoy concentrated cannabis-based terpenes. Remember – it doesn’t matter whether you’re simmering cannabutter, torching a blast, or setting the temperature on a tabletop vaporizer. Preserving the taste means staying at temperatures just high enough to decarboxylate THCa, and appreciating the taste means taking an extra moment to appreciate a strain’s unique scent fingerprint.

Featured image by Gina Coleman / Weedmaps

Do you need advice on how to incorporate cannabis into your lifestyle? Write cupcake at askabudtender@weedmaps.com.

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