An Introduction to Pairing
Cannabis enthusiasts understand that the experience derived from this versatile plant extends far beyond any basic inhalation or ingestion. With its myriad of strains and terpene profiles, cannabis offers an expansive palate for connoisseurs, who are interested in curating a truly unique experience. In the spirit of elevating your cannabis adventure, we delve into the art of cannabis pairing: a practice that marries strains, consumption methods and even ambiance to create a symphony of the senses, which resonates with your mood, setting and intentions.
The Foundations of Cannabis Pairing
At its core, cannabis pairing is an endeavor of sensory enrichment and intention alignment. By thoughtfully combining strains, consumption techniques and environmental elements, you can design an experience which not only complements but heightens your state of being. Each blended journey can be a brand new experience, with each carefully crafted combination of pairing.
Matching Strains and Flavors
The cornerstone of cannabis pairing lies in the meticulous and careful matching of strains. Combining strains with the right properties, flavors and aromas will enhance your experience. This aligns your desired effects with unique flavor profiles. Each strain will impart different qualities, depending upon your desired effects. When choosing a strain, consider the basic following guidelines:
- Indica/Sativa/Hybrid: Selecting Your Mood
Indica strains are renowned for their capacity to induce deep relaxation and provide a sense of tranquility. In essence, these particular strains are known for their calming effects. They are ideal companions for cozy evenings spent indoors, whether it’s reading a captivating novel, engaging in self-reflection or surrendering to the embrace of soothing music. Thus, the dominant effect of an Indica strain is the deep “body high.”
On the other hand, Sativa strains present an energetic, motivational and euphoric disposition. These strains go hand in hand with activity. Match these with outdoor adventures, which greatly enlarge your capacity for expending that energy. Alternatively, indulge in creative pursuits or lively social gatherings, thereby directing this energy towards either self-improvement or on a collective journey with others. Sativas, therefore, are known for elevating energy.
Hybrid strains contain mixed qualities from both Indica and Sativa. In addition to the variety of terpenes they offer, these strains are blended for complex effects. Some are dominantly Indica/slightly Sativa, some are dominantly Sativa/slightly Indica or strains can be a balanced mix of Indica and Sativa. Hybrid strains are obviously strains that have an endless variety of sophisticated qualities.
- Terpenes: Selecting Your Aroma
Follow your nose and dive into strains that boast specific terpene profiles. Terpenes are essentially aromas which alter our moods. For instance, Limonene is known for its bright citrus aroma, pairing harmoniously with dishes and beverages that feature similar citrus notes. These aromas which terpenes are responsible for influence our moods, by tapping into the receptors in each person’s brain and nervous system. They can inspire feelings of energy, motivation and emotional well-being. For example, coffee has terpenes. Smelling the rich aroma of coffee first thing in the morning as it inspires you to wake up is a perfect example of how terpenes work to alter your emotional and psychological state. Consequently, exploring the olfactory world of aromatic terpenes can significantly enhance your overall experience with cannabis.
- Flavor Profiles: Selecting Your Tastebuds
Delve into the intricate flavor profiles of cannabis strains, ranging from earthy and woody to fruity and floral notes. This wide spectrum is perfect for pairing cannabis with beer, wines or other alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages. Pairing strains with a particular flavor will enhance that flavor and, therefore, increase the depth of your palate’s experience. Moreover, combining the intoxicative effects of cannabis with your favorite liquor can enhance your experience, as they impart these intoxicating effects in alternative ways. As a general rule with wines, pair lighter cannabis strains with white wine and deeper, complicated, full-bodied strains with red.
Furthermore, try complementing these flavors by pairing strains with various dishes or even desserts, which resonate with and augment the cannabis bouquet. Blend cannabis with wines and cheeses, to create a broader sensory experience that a simple joint may provide. This can become a dream experience for the food connoisseur. Pairing a beautifully-prepared gourmet dinner with complimentary strains of cannabis for each course will turn your meal into a delight of the senses. For example, cannabis strains with earthy-woodsy tones pair well with grilled mushrooms or roasted root vegetables. On the other hand, fruity-citrus strains are excellent with citrus-flavored desserts or fresh fruit salads.
Your Consumption Method: Selecting Your Mode of Delivery
The manner in which you choose to partake in cannabis is another vital facet to explore for the perfect pairing. There are a wide array of methods that have become currently available, in addition to the classic “bowl” or “joint”:
- Smoking vs. Vaping:
You can elevate your experience by pairing joints or vaporizers, with herbal teas, culinary dishes or beverages. This combination heightens the aromatic and sensory dimensions of each. Different strains contain distinct aromas. When blending these strains, your cannabis experience becomes a deeper, richer experience. Each mix of aromas presents its own unique environment and as you blend more strains, each environment becomes a brand new experience. Some connoisseurs of smoking prefer the aroma of cannabis, as it reaches a combustible temperature and, therefore, prefer to smoke it when pairing it with food.
However, some cannabis connoisseurs argue that vaping preserves the terpene flavors much better than simple smoking. Smoking (in their view) can alter raw terpenes by giving off, instead, a burned flavor. Therefore, in the eyes of some cannabis inhalers: to avoid altering your original terpene profiles, vaping is highly recommended. This is especially the case if you’re going to pair cannabis with foods and beverages, for maximum terpene enjoyment.
Edibles are food products infused with cannabis extract and come in many forms: baked goods, hard candies, gummies, chocolates, lozenges, meat (jerky), beverages and cooking/baking oils. Interest in edibles has increased exponentially in the cannabis industry, for 3 primary reasons:
(1) edibles are discreet (no skunk odor on your person) and much more convenient to use (just eat);
(2) they offer a “high” which users claim is much more relaxing, intense and longer-lasting than smoking;
(3) they avoid the harmful toxins and health risks to the lungs which are associated with smoking cannabis, at a combustible temperature.
Considering the benefits of edibles, try creating a gourmet fusion by integrating cannabis strains with specific terpenes, with your preferred culinary dishes. Consequently, this will allow for a more harmonious marriage of flavors. For thousands of years, people have used the cannabis herb to increase and widen the capacity of our taste buds. The aromatic benefits of cannabis can significantly add to the “whetting” of our appetites, while the direct herbal benefits in the foods you combine it with can stimulate our palates.
- Tinctures and Oils
CBD Tinctures, CBD Oil, Hemp Seed Oil and THC Oil:
Often the terms “CBD Tincture,” “CBD Oil,” “Hemp Oil” and “THC Oil” are used interchangeably and incorrectly. They are separate products, with different compounds, different onset times and different benefits. Let’s explore the differences between these.
CBD Tinctures are often made from pure isolate CBD extract. The most common solvent in tinctures is often alcohol, in the range of 60%-70% by volume. This equates to 120-140 proof. Alcohol is also used in tinctures because it establishes a longer shelf life for the product. However, honey, vinegar and glycerin are occasionally but rarely also used. Tinctures are produced from CBD-rich hemp or Cannabis Sativa plants. The most common method of consumption is orally, absorbed through the mucous membranes in the mouth. Highly concentrated tinctures should be diluted before they are consumed. CBD tinctures may be more potent and provide quicker benefits and relief than CBD Oil, as tinctures bypass the digestive system and CBD Oil does not. However, this also makes the taste of tinctures much stronger and, to some, bitter and less palatable than oils.
CBD tinctures are often pre-dosed and, therefore, very convenient. Many cannabis enthusiasts pair CBD tinctures with teas, since the relaxing qualities of a cannabidiol match the calming qualities of teas, with their unique terpenes. “CBD mocktails” and traditional alcoholic beverages are also often blended with CBD tinctures. Whether you like your drink steeped, shaken, iced, muddled, stirred or blended, tinctures can improve the quality of your drinking experience, whether it’s tea or liquor. You can also pair tinctures with sauces, soups/stews, salad dressings and even frozen sherberts. Remember though, tinctures mixed with food and beverages will take longer to take effect. The effects will not be as immediate as dosing yourself under the tongue.
CBD OIL (Not an Essential Oil)
CBD Oil is usually a blend of pure CBD extract from the cannabis plant, suspended in an “inert carrier oil”, such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil. Pure CBD oil is not an essential oil, because it is an isolate and doesn’t contain the extract of the whole plant. Essential oils are a part of holistic therapy, which reflects a whole-plant approach to cannabis. CBD is considered pure and distinct from the rest of the effects of the cannabis plant (within .03%). It can be taken sublingually, ingested orally or used topically. Benefits of CBD oil include relief from pain, anxiety, sleeplessness and many other issues. It’s also known to induce a deep feeling of relaxation. Because it has a milder flavor than tinctures, it can be much more easily taken alone or even paired with food and non-alcoholic beverages. CBD oils are much preferred over tinctures because of their zero alcohol content, often because of religious or health reasons. However, CBD oil has a lower “bioavailability” than CBD tincture, being absorbed by the body much more slowly. CBD oil must pass through the digestive system, as opposed to bypassing it like tinctures. Therefore, it can take up to two hours for CBD oil to take effect, even when taken orally, under the tongue.
Hemp Seed Oil (An Essential Oil)
Hemp Oil is an essential oil because it’s produced from whole-plant extract and not a single isolate from the plant. Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts which still retain all of the natural flavor and smell of the original plant, instead of just a single isolate. Each type of essential oil carries with it a unique combination of compounds. The diversity of these various compounds affects their aroma, their absorption rate and how they benefit the body. Hemp seed oil pairs wonderfully with the activity of cooking, as it serves as an excellent cooking oil, rich in linoleic acid and Omega-3 fatty acids. A diet high in these acids significantly lowers your overall cholesterol, reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which, in turn, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke).
Yet, it contains almost no cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The seeds of the hemp plant (which hemp seed oil is made from) are not rich in THC. However, its lack of euphoric qualities doesn’t discount hemp seed oil’s health benefits when you combine the art of pairing with the art of health-conscious cooking.
THC Oil (a.k.a. – Cannabis Oil/Marijuana Oil/THC Tinctures)
THC Oil is also widely known by many names, even THC tinctures. Simply put, whatever its form, it’s a cannabis extract that includes a high dose of THC (along with other cannabinoids). Like CBD tinctures and CBD oils, they’re mixed with either alcohol, glycerin or an inert carrier oil, such as its own oil from hemp seeds. Unlike isolate CBD tinctures and oils, the presence of these numerous cannabinoids combines to create a compound that offers an even greater whole-plant approach to your pairing. THC tinctures and THC oils are becoming highly popular. Many manufacturers offer organic ingredients, including full-spectrum plant extract for those who wish for a more holistic approach to cannabinoids. Highly concentrated forms of THC are now widely available online or in cannabis dispensaries. However, when using these highly concentrated tinctures, be careful to pay strict attention to instructions about dosing.
Slowly Introduce Tinctures and Oils into Your Routine
Stealthily introduce cannabis tinctures or essential oils into your daily wellness regimen. Simply place a few drops under your tongue during your morning coffee or evening tea. Tinctures and oils come in a variety of combinations, available to treat a wide spectrum of needs. They usually come pre-packaged and pre-labeled for easy direction and consumption. If you have your own garden for growing your own cannabis, herbs and possess some know-how when it comes to the rules of dosing, there are recipes available online for homemade tincture/oil-based combinations.
Always remember that each method of consuming cannabis will involve variables addressing how quickly and how thoroughly what you ingest will be metabolized, by your body. Balancing responsible dosing with the benefits of cannabis will help ensure that your journey is a positive and memorable one.
Crafting the Ideal Ambiance
Pay attention to where you indulge in your unique journey. The ambiance and setting in which you enjoy cannabis will significantly influence the overall experience. When it comes to the pairing experience, there are many unique and exciting environments you can combine and explore:
- Nature Escapes:
Find solace and connect with nature by embarking on outdoor adventures. Whether it’s hiking, camping or a leisurely stroll through a park, cannabis can significantly magnify your appreciation for the natural world. Moreover, it creates the opportunity to explore your local, state and national park, forest or beach environments. When blending your natural cannabis experience with a natural environment, the benefits of the whole plant are intensified. A general feeling of well-being is usually stimulated by smelling, seeing, hearing and feeling little things in the natural world. Such as, the smell of pine terpenes in the summer air, a cool breeze on a sunny day, the smell of Petrichor (the scientific name for the way rain smells) on the earth after a storm, the feeling of the sun creeping out and warming the earth in spring or the sound of crickets on a starry moonlit night. Combining cannabis with nature greatly intensifies your experience, increasing your chances that your journey will be a memorable one.
- Nurturing Creativity:
Pair cannabis with educational and artistic interests. Enhance intellectual/educational interests and pursuits with your creative energies, by pairing cannabis with painting, writing or crafting creatively, using your hands. Combining these energies (with particularly Sativa strains) with your creative faculties can heighten and enrich your personal endeavors. For instance, education is something you can blend with your journey. Enroll in a class or join a group to enlarge your intellectual needs, while intertwining the learning path with the benefits of Sativa. Furthermore, hands-on creative expression such as sculpting, pottery or gardening can be a very positive outlet for relieving stress and anxiety. Combining these creative outlets in various ways can lead you towards personal wellness, as well as enrichment.
- Mindful Meditation:
Cultivate a serene and contemplative space if your goal is profound meditation, highly advanced yoga or even just simple relaxation. Avoid settings that cultivate distractions and increase your level of anxiety and/or stress. Select locations which provide ample space, quiet atmosphere and inspiring ambiance. With the proper environment suited to your specific needs, cannabis can intensify your awareness, deepen your practice or make your relaxing moments much more pleasurable. Paying attention to where you center yourself will help you tune out the remaining distractions, in order to enjoy the full benefits of your blended, meditative experience. For example, integrate cannabis into your yoga routine. Cannabis helps facilitate the mind-body connection practitioners of yoga seek, in the attempt to achieve a mental-physical connection based on “wholeness.” Cannabis activates your endocannabinoid system and this system helps regulate homeostasis, in the human body. The effect of Yoga is the same: balance. Therefore, combining the benefits of two homeostatic practices increases your chances of balanced mental and physical “wholeness.”
Social Engagement vs. Solitude: Consider the Social Context and Your Mood:
- Social Settings:
When you’re looking to foster social connections, spirited conversations and shared laughter, pairing cannabis with friends, loved ones and good times can elevate the experience. This can improve social bonding. Cannabis is known for its ability to foster a highly interactive environment, where people harness the power of laughter. This, of course, leads to a communal feeling of shared pleasure. Endorphins, which are known as “happy hormones,” are stimulated when genuine laughter occurs. Including others in your cannabis journey during joyful and upbeat events can create the kind of memories worth sharing, again and again. Creating a joyful environment can intensify the production of good memories. Cannabis can significantly stimulate social enjoyment, via stimulating the simple human love of laughter.
For moments of introspection, self-discovery and self-care, partake in your cannabis experience alone. Try engrossing yourself in activities that help you center your sense of self. The attempt to “solo task” as opposed to “multi-tasking” is the desired goal when trying to center yourself. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years throughout history to try and achieve the task of “centering.” Spiritual centering and balancing your psychological health are often the primary goals of meditating in solitude, despite which philosophy you choose to follow. The calming effects of Indica are very effective for reaching and maintaining a calm psychological state of meditation.
Practicing Responsible Pairing
Remember that cannabis pairing, like any art, requires responsibility. Being well-informed about the strains you consume and their potential effects is paramount. Use moderately, taking into account your personal tolerance and current state of mind. Approach the practice with mindfulness and adherence to local laws and regulations. Nothing can sour an experience like involvement with the legal system.
In conclusion, the art of cannabis pairing empowers you to transform your cannabis journey into a multi-sensory adventure. With the right strains, consumption techniques, ambiance and companionship, you have the tools to craft an experience that is uniquely yours. Align this with your intentions, whether they involve relaxation, creativity or spiritual exploration. Embrace the boundless possibilities of enhancing your cannabis expedition through thoughtful pairing and by cherishing the heightened experiences that follow. Remember to enjoy these elevations responsibly, always respecting the legal framework in your jurisdiction.