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Leafly staff picks: The best-tasting cannabis strains

February 28, 2017
Some people choose a cannabis strain based on its name. Others by its THC content. Personally, I’m a sucker for aroma and flavor; whether it’s a flower, dabbable wax, or an oil cartridge, bad/bland/harsh flavor is a big turn-off. And with flavors ranging from sweet roses to earthy diesel, who wouldn’t want to explore the vast spectrum of tastes and smells cannabis has to offer?

Although flavor has everything to do with how a product is grown, cured, stored, and processed, genetics play a role as well. Over the years, these strains have proven to be top contenders in the flavor game, consistently showing off rich terpene profiles that not only govern a strain’s smell, but enhance the strain’s effects as well.

Tangie

Tangie is a citrus dream crafted by the masterminds at DNA Genetics. There’s no strain I’d sooner rely on for good flavor than this sativa; popping the lid of a jar of Tangie and filling your nose with the smell of fresh orange zest can be somewhat of a religious experience of wonderment. With the sweet smell of citrus and fruit medley, Tangie lets you drift upwards slowly and steadily into euphoria, where bad moods don’t stand a chance.

Strawberry Cough

Kyle Kushman never would have guessed that the sad-looking clone he held in a paper bag would one day become the famous award-winning Strawberry Cough. But thank goodness he passed this one to his left and shared the strawberry goodness with all of us. This uplifting, creative strain smells like it grew wild in a strawberry patch, radiating with the distinct aroma of ripe berries and rich earthy soil.

Blueberry

Speaking of strains that smell exactly like fruit, this list would never be complete without the mention of Blueberry. Without Blueberry, there would be no Blue Dream, no Blue Cheese, no Blue Cookies; “Blue” hybrids simply wouldn’t exist. You’ll notice all of these strains carry a blueberry-like smell, but few can match the original Blueberry’s uncanny resemblance to a bushel of overripe blueberries plucked straight from the branch.

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Dutch Treat

Flavors of lemon candy, sharp pine, and fresh herbs twist together to create the complex aroma of Dutch Treat. A budtender has never had to twist my arm when upselling Dutch Treat; it’s been hard to find a lackluster example of the flavorful strain after all these years. Beyond the obvious notes of citrus and pine, this strain endlessly offers subtle nuances of sage, mint, and pepper.

XJ-13

xj-13 cannabis strain

Bursting with flavors of lemon, lime, and pear, XJ-13 is a strain I can hardly ever turn down. Its aroma has a sour bite that seems to almost fizzle in your nose like a fruity spritzer on a hot summer day.

Lavender

Lavender is a beautifully intricate strain that smells like–oh, you guessed it–lavender. Like an all-in-one bouquet, Lavender also offers up sweet accents of wildflower, rose, and violet underneath a layer of woody earthiness.

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Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a fantastic wake-and-bake strain not only because of its awakening, high-energy high, it also tastes like a bowl of ripe red grapefruit sweetened with honey. I don’t often see it on dispensary shelves, but it’s a cherished rarity, especially when enjoyed on warm summer weekend mornings.

Red Headed Stranger

Red Headed Stranger is a strain I’ve loved getting to know in both flower and oil form. Upon inhale, the palate is dowsed with sweet flavors that seem citrusy at first, but then you notice some of the quieter flavors of mint and pine giving the strain a fresh, herbaceous finish. Coupled with effects that soothe the body while letting the mind run unencumbered, Red Headed Stranger is a perfect afternoon smoke that can easily replace or enhance your favorite citrusy, hoppy beer.

Schrom

Schrom is somewhat of a local legend here in Seattle, but I simply can’t find it in my heart to neglect mentioning this glorious sativa strain that smells exactly like 7-Up. Herbal notes subtly underscore the pungent, unmistakable flavors of lemon-lime so strong, they monopolize the palate.

These are the strains that have been kindest to my nose, but what strains have a smell and/or flavor that make you swoon? Let me know what I’m missing out on in the comments section below!

Bailey Rahn's Bio Image

Bailey Rahn

Bailey is a senior content manager at Leafly, specializing in strains and health. She's spent 7+ years researching cannabis products, spreading patients’ stories, and exploring healthy ways of integrating cannabis into daily life.

View Bailey Rahn's articles

  • This is a great introduction to different Cannabis flavors and smells. Terpenes play an important role in not just the tastes and aromas, but the entourage effect suggests these smells and tastes may have more benefits than just sensory.

  • Highway 69

    I never gave much thought to the flavors and smells until I stopped burning (smoking) and started vaporizing my flower.
    I have a “Mighty” vaporizer, and now enjoy all the flavors and aroma that I was missing before.
    And it’s healthier!

    • Loki Sigurdsson

      Grow organic if you want the best flavor and smoothest smoke from your flower.

  • Brian Goode

    What about fruity pebbles you got my other two faves my top 3 to date are fruity pebbeles, gorilla glue 4 , and blue cheese. I try to match flavor with medicinal qaulity as it aint bout being stoned which is fun dont get me wrong but taking an adventure seeing what marijuana has to offer. I wish there were marijuana tastings like wine tastings that would be awsome.

  • Punk Rock Nate

    Try Tillamook strawberry, it’s my fav, smells like a strawberry patch next to a gas station. I hear it’s a cross of strawberry cough x sour Deasle, but I’m not completely sure

  • Bend14

    Sugar Black Rose is by far the best smelling and tasting herb I have ever had.

  • Juan Dope

    Too bad all these dispensaries on Leafly sell bud that smells nothing like marijuana, let alone like the strain it is. I have never smelled a skunk or diesel aroma from any dispensary in Arizona. The entire thing is a sham. And Leafly is a major part of that scam. Nasty fake chemical weed. They dont even grow from clone.

    People are afraid its them that can’t identify these aromas and flavors that Leafly speaks of, so they just stay quiet and accept GARBAGE that, again , smells nothing like Marijuana, but like snake oil scent additives and unflushed synthetic fertilizers,nothing but contaminants in 95% of the weed and the other 5% smells and tastes like reggie, not even mid grade aromas!

    • Greenleaf910

      You must have accidentally bought and smoked some of that mean weed, I hear its a hybrid, a combination of anger and hostilities. Be careful it may bring you down.lol.

    • Mike D’Onfro

      Juan your a Dope

    • dan Tilman

      I agree one hundred percent, im from Washington state and have lived there for half of my life and Arizona the other half. They dont have any clue how to grow here in AZ. they dont flush anything or cure it at all and like you said its just garbage.

  • Loki Sigurdsson

    The breeder of strawberry cough did grow the strain in a strawberry field. The strains original name was strawberry killing fields, but strawberry killing fields is a whole new strain now with different genetics.

  • Joseph Fortunak

    Well grown Columbian Gold (don’t know the region beyond that, but I’m referring to some acquired from The Church of Costa Mesa dispensary in Orange County, CA), as well as, to a lesser extent, some a fellow DMV resident cultivated prior to the availability of dispensaries in our area, but [although I’m the cliche that sails for calmer waters towards the best coast…] can have a pleasant taste a bit like citrus fruit upon smoking it; somewhat like halfway between a mango and a nectarine, with a smooth, silky aftertaste reminiscent of the flavour profile of kumquat; that blend of pleasantly-complex and genuinely enjoyable [to that extent] taste and feel on a strain with such beautifully uplifting effects is quite uncommon. The terpene profiles of things even of the same strain, even in Landrace strains, can seem to vary a lot based upon a multitude of complex factors.

    DMV Diesal (Relatively strong sativa-hybrid; but personally, I prefer it to NYC Diesal any day, and having severe chronic pain, it’s more useful than Sour Diesal) and Escobar OG (a high-THC strain that I would guess is a lightly Indica dominant or close to true-hybrid strain, the exact genetic origins of which I am completely unaware which is similar looking to The Doctor; lots of purple and relatively large-sized buds redolent of earth, sour cherry, and lavender) are two brilliantly cultivated strains with aroma, flavour, and growth profiles that make it very worthy of more widespread attention, that I have yet to encounter outside of the D.C. area that I think definitely deserve to have spread far beyond the boundaries of the region.

  • Dean_the_Human

    I’ve been digging some recently-acquired Apple Jacks from a local place near Fresno, CA. I’m normally a huge Tangie fan but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try this weed….it literally smells like a fat red apple mixed with some earth. And the high is a dream, energetic and creative with a light body buzz, but as “present” as I am when I’m smoking this, it’s still hard to keep my eyes open…the high just settles in your eyelids. I’ll definitely be picking this up whenever I find it.

  • Drew Schlosser

    great article, good perspective. absolutely loving the overall organization of the website and app, really highlighting each aspect of something we all love! well done keep it coming

    ps the list is great, hard to say what id add and subtract as flavor is subjective from person to person but i love some of the ones on here, grapefeuit and blueberry particularly! two awesome parents

  • Brock Cannon

    All great strains and great flavor descriptions! Thanks for a great article! Going to definitely play around with these in my pairings!

  • BeWise Sean

    Orange cookie and Super Lemon Haze could join the list as well !