What are terpenes anyway?
What are terpenes anyway you ask?
Terpenes are active organic compounds. They exist in different tissues of most plants. Have you ever noticed the intensity and richness of the aromas of essential oils? That’s the terpenes! These powerful biosynthetic messengers do the heavy lifting when making the cannabis plant potent and flavorful.
You can find terpene compounds in flowers, pine trees, mint, and other herbs, and of course, the star of all of our shows, the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids, that is CBD, THC, CBN, and CBG are terpenes. These compounds are unique to the cannabis plant. Like mitochondria, terpenes are truly the powerhouse of the plant. Creating the flavor and aroma profiles for the plants.
Each terpene brings its own flavor profile to the table, however, terpenes can be mixed and blended to make even more complex flavors when manufacturing cannabis products.
Roughly 200 different terpenes exist in the cannabis plant. This is exciting news as it opens up the potential to create ever more variety of different cannabis flavors. That being said, I am not about to list off all 200 terpenes and their properties. What follows, however, is a rundown of the most popular and utilized terpenes that you will probably come into contact with as a consumer of cannabis products.
Terpenes greatest hits
Open up a cannabis plant and the most likely terpene you will find is Myrcene. You may notice hints of lemongrass, thyme, cardamon, or hops as these plants also contain high amounts of myrcene. Herbal and earthy, you may have noticed that some try hopped IPS’s smell and taste a lot like cannabis. Myrcene is why.
This terpene is also found in the rinds of citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and the like. It brings a lot of zest and pineyness to the forefront of the flavor. Fun fact: This terpene is commonly used in cleaning supplies.
This one is a bit controversial. Caryophyllene is a commonly found compound whose origins are unknown. Therefore, while it is generally considered a terpene, some would argue it is not technically a terpene. By definition, terpenes have 12-15 carbon chains. Caryophyllene does not. However, it does have a mushy peppery flavor profile that brings nice woody and earthy dimensions to enjoy. You’ll also find this compound in clove, pepper, and cinnamon.
As time goes on, more complex terpene profiles will be produced through Pheno-Hunting campaigns in the Cannabis grow rooms and farms across the US and world. There will be a time where cannabis varietals will match the wine industry in complexity and richness.
We live in a wonderful time. Enjoy the journey!
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