The phone alarm goes off at 5 AM, but True Terpenes co-founder Ben Cassiday is already awake. He couldn’t sleep last night. Cassiday just tasted his great white whale.
All hunters have the one quarry they’re still hunting. Captain Ahab had Moby Dick, King Arthur had the Holy Grail, and for Cassiday it’s a candy-sweet, berry scented cannabis that he got from a Columbia University botany professor when he was 18 and involved in the Michigan medical cannabis program.
Those early days in medical cannabis also led Cassiday to Oregon and True Terpenes co-founder Chris Campagna. Cassiday and Campagna founded True Terpenes to educate patients about terpenes at the medical cannabis clinics they ran. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the flavor, scent, and effects of cannabis.
The demand for terpenes in cannabis products, food, drinks, and cosmetics quickly outpaced the medical clinic market and True Terpenes, as you know it, was born.
True Terpenes has become the household name in terpenes by replicating the flavors and effects of cannabis. Their strain profiles are created from triple-distilled isolated terpenes and use industry-leading analytics to make blends that are as close to the original flower as humanly possible. The strain profiles are developed using botanical terpenes such as linalool from lavender or beta-caryophyllene from hops which have been formulated to recreate the taste, aroma and effects of cannabis without any of the legal concerns.
However, in order to recreate something you first have to find it. Like all great hunts, hunting for terpenes starts with scouting.
Cassiday’s expeditions have taken him to Hawaii, Israel, and beyond in search of rare cannabis and terpene profiles to bring to True Terpenes audience and the world. Cassiday knows more growers than he can count and speaks with researchers like Ethan Russo routinely, but often it’s the unexpected moments of life that bring the greatest results.
A decade and several states after his meeting with the Columbia University botanist, Cassiday found himself at yet another cannabis convention. Thankfully this event featured an after party at a mansion with open consumption. That’s where the smell of berries drew him to a dark, cloudy section of the mansion and a gentleman with two very pungent zip lock bags.
A couple joints later and they had drew up plans to deliver samples to a lab for a custom terpene profile formulation project. Cassiday has to secure multiple harvests or vintages of a strain for testing to give the formulation team the best picture of what he experiences in the field.
The strains that caught Cassiday’s nose that evening? Strawberry Cheesecake and Blueberry Cookies.
“Usually I am evaluating for the bag appeal, the smell once the nug is broken, and then how that does or does not transfer to the experience when smoking,” Cassiday said. “I like to break it up with a grinder to get the most scent activation.”
These techniques showcase an important fact about terpenes and cannabis. Terpenes are volatile and will evaporate at different temperatures depending on their mass. As such you’ll mostly be smelling the monoterpenes that have evaporated and built up when you open a jar. As such it’s important to have a process like this to experience the entire profile in the flower.
“I’m always mentally taking notes of what terpenes I’m tasting,” Cassiday said. “I like to be able to compare that to what we see when we get the data back.”
It was thoughts of this data that were dancing in Cassiday’s mind as the alarm again went off. Time to catch the plane back to Portland.
Finding unique cannabis is only the first step in the process to develop True Terpenes Strain Profiles.
The True Terpenes formulation team gets to work piecing together the terpene and volatile profile of the strain once the analytical data comes in from the lab. But not before Cassiday takes a moment to compare his blind terpene tasting to the numbers coming from the machine.
“I knew these would have high linalool and terpinolene,” Cassiday said. “Those two are responsible for that floral, sweet, tart taste in blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. There’s definitely some surprises though.”
The surprises came in the form of a ketone this time. Most of the tastes, aromas and effects we love about the plant are created by terpenes. However, there are some other interesting compounds in cannabis from alcohols and esters to ketones that provide unique mouthfeel, scents and flavors. True Terpenes tests for and utilizes these compounds to create a mirror of the cannabis experience. These volatiles provide a next level of flavor for True Terpenes profiles and their new custom formulation services.
Despite utilizing cutting edge science, the process often requires several iterations to find the best recreation of the profile. Just like with cooking from a recipe, it’s always important to taste before you serve. The formulations team at True Terpenes serves as our terpene sommeliers. Our team makes sure our profiles or your custom project go beyond matching the analytical data from cannabis, to matching the experience of cannabis.
If you’re ready to level up your cannabis experience, or want to bring the flavor of cannabis and terpenes into your food, beer, or skincare find True Terpenes. True to the plant. True Experience. True Terpenes.
Written by David Heldreth