In future posts we'll discuss where to buy the best hemp flower and what packaging can tell you. For now, we will assume that you have purchased your hemp and are about to open the package.
When you crack the seal, your most immediate response should be "Oh Wow!" The aroma should jump out at you. Premium hemp flower will be bursting with terpenes. As a matter of fact, you should be careful where you open a package of premium hemp flower because it will literally fill the room with its aromatic presence.
If you have to actually stick your nose into the package to smell it, something is wrong. It could be old flower. If it was grown outdoors and you are buying it in the Spring, Summer, or Early Fall, it is anywhere between 5-8 months old. Terpenes will begin to fade in about 2 months, even with proper storage.
It could also be a poor strain, or a good strain grown badly. Not all hemp flower is created equally. We have experimented with strains that had virtually no smell to them at all. As such, we didn't/don't offer them to our customers. Even well-established strains that are grown badly won't exhibit their reputed aromatic level. Terpenes are a result of trichomes, and trichomes are a result of great growing technique. Not all hemp growers are created equally either.
Now that the seal has been broken and you've made your initial evaluation on aroma, it's time to take a good look at your purchase. You should see a mottled combination of colors- primarily green- with other lighter and darker hues of purple, brown, black, and white. Different strains will present different variations. In fact the same strain may demonstrate different variations from harvest-to-harvest. But, all premium flower will have one thing in common- none of them will be completely brown. If your flower looks like old dried-up tobacco leaves,throw it away. It is old-old-old and will only disappoint you. And, although it should neve have to be said, there should be zero signs of mold.
As you are looking at your purchase, squeeze it between your fingertips and roll it around a little. Moisture content in premium flower varies from grower-to-grower (it's a preference thing), but there SHOULD BE MOISTURE. If the flower just crumbles in your hand, there were either shortcuts taken in the drying/curing phase, or it has simply been stored incorrectly. Hemp, like tobacco, needs to be in humidor conditions to maintain its freshness.
So, we have addressed 3/5 senses so far. We have experienced our premium hemp flower through smell, sight, and touch. What's next? Nope, not taste. That comes last. Hearing comes next!
Or more specifically, listening! Listen to the store clerk that just sold you your package. What does he have to say about it? Does he know the grower? Does he know where the package originated? A good store owner will ensure that his clerks know their products. If they give you a blank stare when you ask questions, consider if you want to be smoking something with an unknown history.
And finally, taste it. Or rather, smoke it. I'm going to tell you that a lot of premium hemp flower has little to no taste. It's actually rare to find a strain whose taste will match its aroma. But, there should also be no harsh or unpleasant tastes while smoking. If you do experience a throat-burn, or have some kind of harsh acidic after-taste, the grower probably did not do a good job with flushing the plant prior to harvest. There needs to be a period of time, at the end of the growing period, when the plant is given nothing but water. The idea is to flush any impurities from it, so that when you do smoke the flower, it either tastes like it smells, or tastes like nothing. Another good indicator as to the effectiveness of the flush, is to look at the ash. It should be almost white. The only thing that should be giving it any color would be the paper that you rolled it in.
You decide which brands of hemp flower meet the definitions of "Premium Smokable." Don't be fooled into buying hemp flower that was meant to be processed. Get the good stuff. Use some common senses (get it? get it?).