Strains & products

We Dabbed the Most Expensive Cannabis Extract in California

Published on July 9, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
(David Downs/Leafly)

Cannabis extracts have come a long way in the last few years, with a whole new set of processes to produce increasingly luxurious (and expensive) dabs. If you aren’t keeping up, you might not even know about the new styles of extracts coming to the market.

So what’s new in top quality concentrates? We searched the hundreds of legal adult-use stores in California for the most expensive, widely available extract in all of the Golden State. Our top pick?

Strawnana Mochi Flan by Synergy X Blue River Terps

(David Downs/Leafly)

Smooth, creamy, and full of flavor, Blue River Terps’ Strawnana Mochi Flan is four times the price of gold and worth every penny. We picked up some from Barbary Coast in San Francisco for the exceptionally high price of $165 per gram, out the door, tax included.

“The melt on the extract is very, very clean, almost like water.”

After one dab, it’s easy to conclude this extract is worth the high price.

It’s a spooky, rare, white color, with a wet, custardy appearance. And this concentrate dabs so smooth, you might not even cough from your hit.

“The melt on the extract is very, very clean, almost like water,” says Tony Verzura, CEO of Blue River Terps. Verzura invented the flan process himself, and named it after his favorite dessert when his fiancé pointed out the similar look.

Each dab unleashes waves of thick, tropical, banana-strawberry flavor that end with a creamy berry Cookies finish and a huge, long-lasting hybrid effect that is multiple times stronger than cannabis flowers.

What Is Strawnana Mochi Flan?

(David Downs/Leafly)

OK, so the Flan tastes great and feels amazing—but why is it so expensive? Well, there are a few factors that lead to the high-end pricing on Flan. You need a rare source strain; an even more rare, time- and energy-intensive extraction technique; and an end product that proves both were worth the extra expense. Let’s break it down.

The Synergy Source Flower

Great extracts start with great source flowers, and there are few better sources than Synergy’s highly coveted Strawnanna Mochi. Mochi is a variant on the bestselling Gelato line. Top-ranking California growers Synergy took Mochi and combined it to their award-winning Golden State Banana strain, plus Strawberry to further elevate its appeal.

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OK, so Blue River got its hands on some elite Strawnanna Mochi flowers. Now what?

Well, Flan is actually a type of live rosin that’s super-purified, which means three things. Let’s unpack them.

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First: Fresh-Frozen

The “live” part of live rosin means that the plant was frozen right off the field, not chopped, dried, and cured like normal.

Then, the freshly chopped, frozen plant was manufactured into extract. Fresh-freezing plants captures many volatile aromas called terpenes that would have evaporated during drying or curing.

“When you really want to have a high-end, connoisseur, top-shelf, upper-echelon dab, the market right now is trending towards live rosin,” explains Kitt Hall, the head judge for concentrates at The Emerald Cup, a global cannabis competition in Santa Rosa.

Second: Solventless

Secondly, the “rosin” part of live rosin denotes that Flan is a type of solventless extract that costs way more to produce than extract made using petroleum solvents.

“It’s a way more labor-intensive process and a labor of love,” explains Hall.

What’s the difference between solvent and solventless extract?

Most cannabis extracts come from solvent-based process. Your typical butane hash oil comes from blasting a stainless steel tube full of ground-up plant matter with the petrochemical solvent butane to dissolve the plant’s coveted, psychoactive resin. Like nail polish remover at work on chipped nail paint, petro-solvents lie butane and propane wash away and dissolve the plant’s external plant glands called trichomes, where the THC resides. The resulting liquid gold butane and THC solution is then purged of butane for days using low heat and low pressure, leaving a concentrated, gold resin behind.

By contrast, solventless extract does not use any petro-solvents. Solventless concentrates are extracted mechanically through methods like ice water agitation and filtration to make ice water hash, or through heat and pressure to make rosin. This can make a big difference. It’s as close to concentrating the pure, unadulterated essence of the plant as you can get.

“What makes mechanical separation unique in this context is that it is the only method which allows a skilled operator to produce a concentrate which is not only highly purified, but actually preserves the anatomical integrity of the trichome head as much as possible,” says Max Lavine, B2B manager and marketing specialist for NUG, a company that produces high-end extracts.

Third: Purified

In California, Your typical live rosin retails for $90 to $100 a gram because of this intensive process—but the award-winning and limited-edition Blue River Strawnana Mochi Flan goes a step further with a proprietary refining process that purifies the live rosin while preserving two to three times more terpenes.

Verzura’s in-house process was “developed to selectively isolate both cannabinoids and terpenes from rosin,” creating a product high in both THCA and strain-specific terpenes.

Thus, we should expect an even pricier product.

Indeed, lab tests of Strawnana Mochi Flan show it is 70% THC, or about three times as strong as flowers. But that other 30% is gobs of terpenes including tons of limonene, pinene, beta-caryophyllene, and myrcene, plus rare terps like ocimene and fenchol.

The price comes with big benefits. Aside from the look, taste, and smell—Flan and other live rosins are prized for their effects.

“You get much more of a body high off of it,” explains Hall, comparing live rosin to extracts made using chemical solvents. “It’s more relaxing. It’s not as intense.”

Prices Staying High

While we’d all like to see these prices come down, the raw costs associated with this high-end product are likely to keep prices in the clouds. When you combine rare flowers with laborious, artisanal techniques, costs skyrocket. Those who want to sample the best will have to save up and pay the most.

As Lavine points out, “the inherently inefficient nature of mechanical separation and the transcendent nature of its best products guarantee that very, very expensive hash will be a part of the recreational cannabis picture for the foreseeable future.”

Indeed. Once you’ve seen the summit of global extracts, it’s hard to go back to life in the valley.

Would you ever buy and dab $165 per gram extract? Let the Leafly community know in the comments below!

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Emily Earlenbaugh
Emily Earlenbaugh
Dr. Emily Earlenbaugh is a cannabis writer and educator. She is the Director of Education for Mindful Cannabis Consulting, where she teaches patients how to find the cannabis options that work best for them. She regularly writes about cannabis science and culture for publications like Cannabis Now Magazine, SF Chronicle’s GreenState, HelloMD, and Big Buds Magazine. Emily has a doctorate in philosophy of science from UC Davis.
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