To truly appreciate the finest cannabis flowers, one must smoke a joint. The process of inspecting, smelling, selecting and grinding a flower and then rolling that joint is as important to the smoking experience as inhaling, enjoying and exhaling the smoke. That is the mindfulness of smoking. One of the best ways to increase your appreciation for the magical herb is to do a blind cannabis tasting.
Simply purchase three or four different varieties and pack them in numbered containers. The less information you have, the easier it is to let the cannabis speak for itself.
Now comes the inclusion of all five senses.
The eyes don’t lie
First is visual assessment. In good light, describe the overall shape and color of the bud. Note the length, body, and color of the hair. Is it well cut or too shaggy or too tight? Is the bud dense and hard or loose and open?
Finally, use a 60x miniature microscope to check the trichomes and look for any clear, cloudy, or amber color. If the stems of the trichomes don’t have rounded tips, the cannabis has likely been machine trimmed or mishandled in some way.
Follow your nose
Second is the scent rating. Squeeze the flower bud and take a deep breath. Now break the bud apart and smell it again. What associations come to mind immediately? Take your frame of reference from smells outside the cannabis world, like the smell of butterscotch or motor oil or dirty armpit, etc. If you break the bud, examine the inside for mold or discoloration. Your fingers give a measure of the hardening: too damp, too dry, or just right. Now grind the flower and smell it again.
When having a tasting with friends, don’t say anything until everyone has smelled so as not to spoil anyone’s nose. The scent comes from the terpenes, volatile organic compounds that give aroma to most vegetative substances. They range from earthy, musty, moldy and pine antiseptic to citric lemon, tutti fruit and blueberry. As jurors for the Emerald Cup, one of the world’s largest outdoor cannabis events, we are looking for so-called terpenes, which are referred to as “jump jumping” and which will immediately fill your room with their olfactory delicacies.
Over the years we’ve tried entries on the cup at the end of the game that smell of mothballs, moldy rags, new car interiors, old sneakers, and the high school gym. There’s also the sweeter choices, including sunscreen and chewing gum, tangerines, strawberries, pineapples, and so on.
Remember, as a judge, it’s not about whether you like the smell or not, but how well it represents that strain. What does it tell you about the flowers? The effects of smell and taste are much stronger than we generally think. So stay with them for a while.
Having a good grind of flowers is just as important for rolling a good joint as it is for making a good cup of coffee. We prefer the Mendo mulcher with round-edged teeth that grind rather than cut the flower. The mulcher also delivers a homogeneous texture which helps create a joint that burns better.
Get your role up
Roll papers are also important. We use Elements Rolling Papers, which can withstand a lot of manipulation while rolling and will not tear. Plus, they don’t leave ashes behind. A clean burn is essential to improve your smoking experience. The less paper, the better. If you were rolling a very thin joint you would use 1 inch papers, while a real Swami joint would need the full 1 ¼ inch papers.
As you roll, make the final healing assessment. If there is a lot of “dust” on the tray, it is too dry. If it’s too sticky, it can still be too damp. A really strong bud will feel slightly oily or greasy, not damp.
Enjoy the taste
Before igniting the rolled joint, take a “dry” blow. So take a big pull on the unlit joint. Pass it on. Enjoy it. This is the final verdict on the fragrance. Most often the dry taste reflects the smell, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker.
Catch a fire
Now comes what everyone has been waiting for: smoking a really high quality cannabis joint. It will be a journey – a hearty, olfactory, tasty adventure that offers new insights with every additional centimeter of smoking pleasure.
The advanced way of lighting a joint is with the hemp beeswax cord. Light the joint like a cigar and twist it to make sure it is evenly lit. When lighting the joint, don’t rate it until the second hit from the detonator and wait again for everyone to try before commenting.
Check the color of the ash. Fine white ash indicates purity. Black ash can mean contamination.
Inhale slowly and carefully and feel the smoke fill all the breathing chambers, but don’t take too big a hit. Check for lung expansion: is it barely possible to hold the smoke? Breathe out slowly through your nose and mouth, taste and taste and smack your lips. Does it taste like aroma, nose or is it different? Let your culinary imagination run wild again with a free association of flavors – the name of this taste is right on the tongue!
Can you feel it
After a few hits, while puzzling over the taste, adjust for the effect the herb has on your body. Take an appeal to your limbs: are there any tingling sensations, hot or cold spots? What’s going on behind your eyes, between your ears, on the back of your neck?
Now move on to the metaphysical stimuli: is it a body stone or a head up? Social, giggling, quiet, couch-lock, creative, musical, intellectual, introspective, getting up and doing some tasks? How do you feel? Are you inspired Combine this inspiration with your heightened sensory, spiritual and social awareness.
May every joint be a journey for you!
Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.