So, what are terpenes, and why are they important in the hemp and cannabis space? Well, technically, a terpene contains multiples of 5 carbon units joined together. Thus, a terpene contains 5, 10, 15 or more carbons. The basic building block is the isoprene molecule, which has 5 carbons and is the smallest true terpene. The many ways the isoprene unit can combine leads to the huge variety of terpenes found in nature. Now, all true terpenes contain only carbon and hydrogen: however, many of the common terpenes contain oxygen: these aren’t “true terpenes” but are classed as “terpenoid” molecules. No matter, we will call them terpenes for this discussion.
Most people don’t care about the molecular structure of plant compounds, including terpenes. So, let’s dive into some of the more common terpenes and the plants that produce them.
- Myrcene. The most important terpene in hops, myrcene contributes to the taste of beer. Mangoes also contain this terpene, and it is prevalent in most cannabis and hemp strains.
- Limonene. Found in limes (hence the name) and most citrus fruits, limonene is the main flavor in limes, oranges and lemons.
- Linalool. Found in many flowers, including lavender.
- Menthol. The main constituent of peppermint, it’s abundant in all mint species.
- Pinene and camphor. Both these guys are found in conifers (pine trees) and have a very strong odor.
- Geraniol. The odor of roses and geraniums.
- Terpinoline and Alpha-Farnesene. The flavor of apples.
- Beta-Caryophyllene. The spice base. Basil, oregano, rosemary. The terpene of Italian cooking.
- Thymol. Thyme, and to a lesser extent, oregano.
- Eugenol. The odor of cloves.
- Anethol. The licorice taste found in fennel and anise.
Most of our foods are flavored with various terpenes, some listed above, some rarer, and some not discovered yet.
Terpenes are the spice of life. And also, the spice of cannabis and hemp. Our unique process preserves many of the hemp terpenes: this is what provides the full spectrum extract that is second to none.