Photos by Justin Cannabis.

Welcome to our second annual installment of “The Best-Tasting Buds on Earth.” These rankings are derived from our Cannabis Cup competition data, culled from lab reports for each of our events held in the previous year (2016).

This year, we have a different look to the rankings for the terpene content in our featured strains, organizing them by Cannabis Cup competition rather than a rolling list as we did last year. The reason for this is twofold: First, each lab in the various Cannabis Cup competition tests for a different number of terps—some for more, some for less. How many and which terpenes are tested for obviously affects the percentage of mass for the terp content observed in the flowers, so each section will note the lab and the number of terpenes tested. Second, this new system of ranking helps to demonstrate which strains are performing well in terms of flavor and aroma in each distinct region of the United States, showing us what growers, patients and recreational users prefer in various areas of the country.

Additionally, we rank the strains first in order of their overall terpene content within that competition and then again using a national ranking (the number in parenthesis) to show how the strain compares across the country. With more and more interest and research being done on the overall effects of particular strains (versus the isolated effects of specific cannabinoids or terpenes via extraction), the importance of broader terpene profiles is starting to come into focus. So when you hear people say they still prefer smoking a joint of flower to taking a (much stronger) dab of a concentrate, this is the reason why.

The List

Cannabis Cup competition: Southern California Cannabis Cup, February 2016
Testing lab: Canna Safe Analytics (CSA), Murrieta, CA
Terpenes tested: Alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bisabolol, caryophyllene, caryophyllene-oxide, geraniol, humulene, linalool, limonene, myrcene, terpinolene (11 total)

Notes:

  • Majestic-12 is an indica-dominant cross between Obama Kush (OG) and Space Queen.
  • The God Father OG from the folks at California Herbal Remedies is an indica-dominant hybrid of Cherry Pie x Granddaddy Purps x OG Kush. This strain was recently named “The Strongest Strain on Earth” (HT, May 2017), reaching 34.04% activated
  • This is the second consecutive year that Strawberry Banana has appeared on our “Best-Tasting Buds on Earth” list. In 2015, the Banana OG x Bubblegum hit 1.75% in total terp content.

Durban Poison

Cannabis Cup competition: Southern California Cannabis Cup, April 2016
Testing lab: Canna Safe Analytics (CSA), Murrieta, CA
Terpenes tested: Alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bisabolol, camphene, carene, caryophyllene, caryophyllene-oxide eucalyptol, geraniol, humulene, linalool, limonene, myrcene, nerolidol, p-cymene, terpinolene (16 total)

Notes:

  • The Durban Poison from TJ’s Organic Gardens was the top terp strain in our inaugural “Best-Tasting Buds on Earth” feature last year at 4.1%, and it climbed over two percentage points this year to 6.35%—good for second place overall in 2016.
  • Schlemons = Gorilla Glue #4 x Schrom, where Schrom = Romulan x Colombian and GG4 = Sour Dubb x Chem’s Sister.
  • The Ghost Train Haze #13 is really a GTH #1. Turns out a typo on the cover of a certain pot magazine (ahem) a few years back led to some packs of seeds being marketed as GTH #13 to correspond with the error. In fact, there is no GTH #13.
  • Speaking of the Ghost Train Haze, she has topped our “Strongest Strains on Earth” list twice—in 2011 at 25.49% THC, and again in 2014 at 27.46% THC.

Golden Goat

Cannabis Cup competition: Michigan Cannabis Cup, June 2016
Testing lab: PSI Labs, Ann Arbor, MI
Terpenes tested: Alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinene, beta-ocimene, beta-pinene, bisabolol, camphene, 3-carene, caryophyllene, caryophyllene-oxide, eucalyptol, gamma-terpinene, geraniol, guaiol, humulene, isopulegol, linalool, limonene, myrcene, nerolidol 1, nerolidol 2, ocimene, p-cymene, terpinolene (23 total)

Notes:

  • The little-known Golden Goat, a sativa-dominant cross (Hawaiian Sativa x Romulan x Island Sweet Skunk), has been around for the better part of this decade and was hitting 22% THC at Cups as far back as 2011.
  • Orange Bangi is reportedly a landrace strain from Tanzania.
  • The Sunshine #4 hit 27.04% THC in the June competition, third-highest in that Cup, taking second place in Hybrid Flowers.

Terps: Flavors, Aromas & Effects

What follows is a list of the major and minor terpenes that play a prevalent role in the taste and smell of our favorite marijuana strains. Listed are the primary flavors and aromas they elicit as well as their medicinal contributions, many of which are also utilized outside of the cannabis industry for treatments and household uses (such as perfumes, soaps, food flavoring, etc.).

On top of their isolated effects as individual compounds, these terpenes combine with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD to create a much broader experience within the user. This total experience is known as the “entourage effect,” which takes into account the overall effects of a particular strain outside of specific metrics like THC potency or primary flavors. The entourage effect will still vary from person to person, but it indicates that a strain has certain qualities when taken as a whole, versus having specific cannabinoids and terpenes isolated and consumed via extraction (such as in hash or concentrates).

Veganic Blueberry Cookies

Cannabis Cup competition: Northern California Cannabis Cup, June 2016
Testing lab: Steep Hill Labs, Berkeley, CA
Terpenes tested: Alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, caryophyllene-oxide, citronellol, humulene, linalool, limonene, myrcene, phytol, terpinolene (10 total)

Notes:

  • Sour Tangie took home a first-place Cup in the Sativa Flowers category at this event, reaching 27.5% THC. Combined with over 4% terp content, this flower possesses intense all-around effects.
  • This is the second time on this year’s List that Durban has appeared. She represents the closest to a landrace/pure strain out of any to make the cut, which says a lot about her genetics.
  • Boss Frost, a.k.a. Grease Monkey 2.0, is an unknown cutting originally thought to be Gorilla Glue #4—but terpene profiles indicated that she was not GG4 at all. The cutting was flowered and produced a few S1 seeds that were also grown and produced new phenotypes, one of which was called the Boss Frost due to her very high trichome content. She took 26th place (first in NorCal) in our latest edition of “The Strongest Strains on Earth” (HT, May ’17) at 27.5% THC.

Sunshine #4

Cannabis Cup competition: Michigan Cannabis Cup, August 2016
Testing lab: PSI Labs, Ann Arbor, MI
Terpenes tested: Alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinene, beta-ocimene, beta-pinene, bisabolol, camphene, 3-carene, caryophyllene, caryophyllene-oxide, eucalyptol, gamma-terpinene, geraniol, guaiol, humulene, isopulegol, linalool, limonene, myrcene, nerolidol 1, nerolidol 2, ocimene, p-cymene, terpinolene (23 total)

Notes:

  • Sunshine #4 (OG x Cherry Pie x Pink Panties) appeared on last year’s “Best-Tasting Buds on Earth” list at #7 with a 2.2% total terp content. Pink Panties is an OG x Burma hybrid.
  • Zprite is an indica-dominant cross of Zkittlez (bred by 3rd Gen Family and Terp Hogz) and an undisclosed NorCal strain from Eddy Lepp.
  • Arborside’s Catfish (an OG-18 backcross) took home a first-place Cup in the 2014 Michigan Cannabis Cup with 20.1% THC. In 2016, she hit 22.57% THC in a Cup competition.

Red Eye OG

Cannabis Cup competition: Southern California Cannabis Cup, October 2016
Testing lab: Canna Safe Analytics (CSA), Murrieta, CA
Terpenes tested: Alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bisabolol, camphene, carene, caryophyllene, caryophyllene-oxide, eucalyptol, geraniol, humulene, linalool, limonene, myrcene, nerolidol, p-cymene, terpinolene (16 total)

Notes: 

  • Mega Hash took fifth place in the Indica Flowers category, with an average judges’ score of 3.5 (out of 5) on “Taste.” Five terps went over a half-percent each: myrcene, linalool, caryophyllene, careen and limonene.
  • Newcomer Zeki Farms took home a second-place finish in Sativa Flowers last October with the Dragon Haze, which hit 23.14% THC. The Dragon Haze is a sativa consisting of Super Silver Haze x Blue Dream x The White.
  • It is rare that an OG phenotype is higher in pinene than limonene, but the Red Eye OG has nearly triple the pinene, at 1.9%, than limonene, at 0.62%. She also hit 29.69% THC in the February Cup in SoCal.

Cali Cure

Best-Tasting CBD Strains

Cannabis Cup competition: All 2016 Cannabis Cups, CBD Flowers category
Testing labs: Steep Hill Labs, Berkeley, CA; PSI Labs, Ann Arbor, MI; Canna Safe Analytics (CSA), Murrieta, CA

Notes:

  • Hermosa Seeds’ Cali Cure hit 19.92% CBD in the October 2016 SoCal Cannabis Cup.
  • Vitamin CBD had nearly a 1:1 THC-to-CBD ratio with 9% THC and 11% CBD.
  • Toci had nearly a 2:1 THC-to-CBD ratio (16:9), which new studies are showing may be the most effective ratio for CBD patients.

See how last year’s buds matched up—The Best-Tasting Buds on Earth 2016!
Keep up with all HIGH TIMES’ grow coverage HERE.

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