by Nicole Flanigan, Peak Supply Co
As the nation’s largest wholesale terpene provider, we spend a lot of time getting to know the needs and wants of our customers. One of the biggest questions our new clients have refers to the flavor profiles of our terpenes. More specifically, people are wondering why our strain-specific terpenes (like Banana Sherbet, Cherry Pie, and Cookies & Cream) don’t taste like the real sugary sweet confections that go by the same name.
There is a slight misconception when it comes to terpenes. Many people expect terpenes to work like e-juice in a vaporizer to make whatever you’re smoking taste like something else. While it isn’t uncommon for vape juice to taste like Skittles, cinnamon rolls, mojitos, and orange juice, terpenes don’t. There are no additional additives like sugar or artificial flavors in the terpenes that’ll make a hash pen or oil taste just like fruit, candy, and cake. It’s best to only use what nature gives us!
Here’s the difference between isolated terpenes and wholesale versus e-juice for vaporizers, as well as a quick rundown on flavor enhanced terpenes to help you or your customer make a more educated purchase:
What are terpenes?
Terpenes are organic compounds found in all plants that are responsible for giving the plant – from blueberry bushes to pine trees – its distinct smell. The unique smell helps plants existing in the wild to attract pollinators and ward off predators. Terpenes are the primary source of the resin and trichome production in cannabis, and they are created in the same glands that produce CBD and THC. That being said, marijuana can create its own combinations of terpenes. No two plants smell exactly the same.
Terpenes are also responsible for several medical benefits and adult uses. When they’re combined with some of the different cannabinoids found in cannabis, they can create what is known as the entourage effect. The entourage effect is what gives strains of cannabis a variety of different effects since the flavor profiles can come about from an almost infinite number of terpene combinations.
In layman’s terms, terpenes are so useful because they can be blended seamlessly with each other. This gives enthusiasts more control over what they taste and feel when they vape. Cannabis contains over 100 different terpenes that offer unique effects.
Liquid terpene products and extracts typically contain a combination of terpenes found in cannabis. Some products will have more of an indica profile (like Blackberry Kush) while others will have more of a Sativa (Clementine) or Hybrid (Banana Kush) profile. This helps to encourage the specific physical effects you’ve come to expect from cannabis.
What is e-juice?
The e-juice, vape juice, and e-liquids can be used in vapes and electronic cigarettes to create actual vapor. Most of the time, e-juice contains nicotine though many flavored e-juices don’t contain any. E-juices come in a ton of different flavors that cater to just about everyone, from people with intense tobacco cravings to people with a sweet tooth. E-juice is made with propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin, flavoring (often with terpenes, but usually artificial) and water. Vape juices that are made with propylene glycol are more likely to irritate your throat while you smoke it. On the other hand, e-juices made with vegetable glycerin are more likely to add a thick layer of sweetness to the vapor.
This is where a lot of the misconception kicks in. Since some vape juices made with vegetable glycerin are sugary sweet and taste like candy, many people assume that terpenes by themselves are responsible for the flavoring. By adding terpenes to e-juice, you can achieve a variety of different and new flavors. However, the terpenes won’t add anything artificial.
Natural terpenes vs. artificial flavors
E-juice, hash oil and CBD isolate can all benefit from adding terpenes and flavonoids to the mix. While marijuana has one of the most extensive ranges of flavor profiles in the plant kingdom, it will never naturally taste like cake, blue raspberry, or piña colada. Those are artificial flavors that have no natural terpene representation in the plant kingdom. Essentially, that just means that if you want blue raspberry vape cartridges, you’ll need to get artificial flavoring and avoid terpenes. Terpenes won’t be able to come close in taste and umami to that artificial flavor that doesn’t exist anywhere naturally.
Natural terpenes are becoming increasingly popular to add to cartridges, oils, and vaporizers. These are natural flavors that mimic the natural terpene profiles of cannabis strains. Natural terpenes are an excellent option if you’re trying to give your products an extra burst of flavor. For example, a processor wants to make the perfect Blue Dream cartridge, though the cannabis used for the extraction didn’t taste as vibrantly blueberry as the processor hoped. To achieve that ideal Blue Dream flavor profile, they could add a close match of terpenes found in the Blue Dream strain profile. The terpenes can add the sweet, summer-berry flavor the cannabis extract may be missing to the mix. That will allow the processor to create a tastier product with no side effects.
Overall, you should choose terpenes if you want to mimic natural flavors found in cannabis. You should select artificial flavors if you want something to taste like something unnatural or extra sweet.
What are flavor-enhanced terpenes?
Flavor-enhanced terpenes are the best of both worlds. While e-juice is more often artificially flavored, it often tastes better than terpenes alone. Flavor enhanced terpenes are terpenes extracted from cannabis with extra flavoring added in. Flavor enhanced terpenes offer the natural health benefits of natural terpenes but with the added benefit of tasting delicious. Our line of flavor enhanced terpenes includes fruit flavors like Ripe Strawberry and Berries and Cream as well as non-fruit flavors like breakfast cereals and pastries.
Do strain-specific terpene flavors really taste like the strain they’re based on?
Flavor is subjective and depends on things like classic tastes, aromatic chemicals, and the taster’s mood and physiology. Strain-specific terpenes are scientifically formulated to mimic the real strain’s natural terpene ratios.
To create strain specific terpene extracts, we primarily identify the terpene ratios commonly found in the strains and reverse engineer the process while removing the cannabinoids from the mix. It’s best to start by testing real cannabis at a certified lab. Then recreate that flower’s terpene profile in the lab and test the formula against real cannabis flowers. If the terpene profile doesn’t make the cut, it doesn’t get sold.
Our strain-specific terpenes are designed to match the terpene profiles of the flowers we extract these essential oils from. Just because they’re named Birthday Cake and Biscotti doesn’t mean they’ll taste like the real thing. However, they do taste like the real cannabis strain since their terpene profiles match.
Terpenes Vs. E-Juice: TL;DR
If you’re just here for a quick answer, here’s the difference between natural terpenes and vape juice.
- All plants naturally produce terpenes.
- E-juice or vape juice is often artificially flavored
- Artificial flavors are not terpenes. They don’t exist anywhere naturally and are created synthetically.
- Strain-specific terpenes are reverse engineered to mimic natural terpene profiles of cannabis strains
- Strain-specific terpenes contain no artificial flavorings
- Strain-specific terpenes will taste like the cannabis strain, not the food or fruit it’s named after. For example, Chocolate Cookies tastes like hash, spice, and coffee, just like the cannabis strain. It doesn’t taste sugary sweet and chocolatey.
- If you want the best of both worlds, try flavor enhanced terpenes to get the benefit of terpenes and the flavor of e-juice.
Everyone has different taste and smell preferences, but now you should be able to find the best fit when looking for that perfect terpene blend.
Nicole Flanigan is one of the newest additions to the Peak Supply Co family. Her knowledge base on terpenes and cannabinoids has helped throughout the educational process. Nicole is a Colorado-based content marketing professional who has dedicated her life to cannabis awareness, advocation, and education. When she’s not writing or developing something groundbreaking for her clients, she enjoys growing cannabis organically and hiking all over Colorado with her two huskies. Peak Supply Co provides the first true all in one solution providing terpenes, vape cartridges, package design and production, helping clients progress from starting creative to finished product.