Cannabis product appreciation has taken a leap into new dimensions in recent years, with weed-lovers across the planet using a wide host of new tools and methods to determine quality with more depth, precision and objectivity.
But how does one learn to determine what ‘good weed’ is?
A certified Cannabis Sommelier would insist on starting any journey into quality grading with a blind tasting.
Blind tastings involve physically analyzing and consuming a particular flower or extract without looking at the price, producer, cultivar name, cannabinoid or terpene content in order to minimize bias in determining quality and noting features that are indicative of provenance.
When it comes to tastings, smoking is considered the best-suited form of consumption because it is easier to detect imperfections like a dark burn and harsh smoke that shows off flavors, often due to excess feed.
Why Not Vape?
Although considered to be healthier by many, vaporizers are simply too forgiving as off-flavours tend to become muted and it can be harder to distinguish the good from the bad.
Keep in mind that when a single tasting session includes several flowers, the cannabis sommelier may choose to taste the smoke without ingesting it into the lungs in order to minimize the chance of intoxication.
This technique is referred to as the ‘cigar style puff’, where smoke is ingested only as far as the esophagus and then released slowly through the nose and mouth in order to gauge smoothness and flavor while reducing risk of overconsumption.
Tools of the Trade
Rolling a half to one gram joint in unflavored rolling paper would be the number one choice for cannabis tastings because it allows the taster to physically see the oil resin build-up and ash color as it burns.
Typically a pipe would not lend itself well to cannabis tastings because they are difficult to clean and the resin build-up between flowers muddles the flavor of the tasting.
However, the Genius Pipe is becoming the smoking accessory of preference for many certified cannabis sommeliers looking for a quick way to conduct tastings because sometimes joints are simply not time and cost-effective.
This innovative pipe is officially endorsed by CannaReps—the world’s oldest Cannabis Sommelier school—as their ‘official tasting pipe’ due to its unique design which filters and cools air without the use of water, allowing the taster to experience the full essence of the flower.
The other key feature that attracts cannabis sommeliers to the Genius Pipe is its unique magnetic locking system which allows for quick, easy and thorough cleaning between tastings. Even the fastest joint rollers can’t beat the speed and ease of this device.
The Cannabis Sommelier Edition Genius Pipe
Assessing Cannabis Flower
Before the burn, the cannabis sommelier must carefully examine the physical attributes of the flower. For this reason, the Cannabis Sommelier Toolkit includes a hand-held microscope for looking at trichomes up close and personal.
After all, trichomes are where the bulk of the terpenes and cannabinoids are contained and hence, it is key to develop a good understanding of what healthy trichome expression looks like according to cultivar type.
To the cannabis sommelier, practice is really the key to expanding their sensory skills, and having a toolkit to work with is essential.
The CannaReps Cannabis Sommelier Toolkit provides you with 3 identical air-tight jars, a microscope, tweezers, portable rolling tray and storage pockets for your papers, grinder and lighter.
The Cannabis Sommelier Toolkit
Quality Grading Exercises
The increase in overall quality in the cannabis industry makes it so that everyone (not just those that are ‘well connected’) can access the most important tool required to be able to learn what excellence means in our field: good weed.
Quality is most certainly not defined by cannabinoid or even terpene content. These are factors to be weighed and considered but they do not in themselves define the endeavour of cannabis quality grading. Quality grading is a complex multi-factor analytical process.
Aroma strength will always be the most important indicator of quality, alongside the inhalation experience which is judged by a multitude of factors like flavor, endurance and smoothness.
Other factors like trim, bud integrity and moisture are also hugely important indicators of quality, but these types of factors are somewhat easier to determine and grade due to their more obvious physical nature.
CannaReps provides a free Quality Grading Tool for anyone wanting to learn the basic steps of quality grading.