When it comes to cannabis, most people are familiar with big chemical hitters, THC and CBD. These are cannabinoid compounds who give cannabis their healing and relaxing properties.
If THC and CBD are the foundation, the bread and butter of cannabis, then terpenes are the florid bells and whistles which elevate it from mere consumable to a delicacy.
Terpenes are chemicals which are not unique to cannabis, but can be found throughout the botanical kingdom. Lemons, for example, contain limonene, the same terpene which gives Do-si-Dos it's signature scent and flavour. Pinene give that distinct bracing smell to pine and coniferous tress, as well as to Granddaddy Purple.
Terpenes play into how your cannabis feels when consumed too- some preliminary research is suggesting that terpenes actually influence the effects of certain strains, challenging the long-held cannon of Sativa vs. Indica.
Terpenes add depth and nuance to a bud, and allow the bud enthusiast to approach cannabis as a connoisseur and develop a pallet for it. It also allows you to pair terpenes and flavours together to maximize the integration of flavours in your cannabis dish.
For example, matching a limonene-rich bud with a fresh grapefruit salad? Perfection. Want to jazz up that peppercorn sauce? Consider a strain rich in the peppery caryophyllene family like Girl Scout Cookies.
Below is a helpful quick hand diagram which outlines the five most prominent terpene flavours found in cannabis.
Getting to know your terpenes is a great way to hone and develop your cannabis pallet, not only in terms of flavour but in effects and feel.