What are your favorite flavors in a beverage? Perhaps you want something crisp and refreshing with fragrant, fizzy notes that delight the palate and invigorate the senses.
All these sensations are the result of delicate terpenes creating flavor profiles we associate with quenching thirst.
It’s not just preference — it’s science! There are so many tasty terpenes, but which are the most crave-able for creating an irresistible beverage?
Emulsion First, Flavor Second
Terpenes and cannabinoids are not water-soluble. Their oily nature means they don’t play well with water and will separate.
The resulting products aren’t shelf-stable and will likely leave bits of sediment at the bottom of the beverage, or worse yet, leech into the packaging or float on the top.
Choose terpenes and cannabinoids that have already been through an emulsion process, or emulsify your products, so they blend seamlessly into the final beverage.
Fun, Fragrant Flavors
Some of the industry’s best-selling cannabis beverages rely on tried and true flavor profiles. Headset reported one of 2021’s best-selling beverages was Sunset Pink Lemonade from Major.
Who doesn’t love Pink Lemonade? It’s fruity, uplifting, a tiny bit tart, with a subtle sweetness to balance it out.
Terpenes in the “Pink Lemonade” family include limonene, beta-caryophyllene, linalool, and myrcene.
Cannabis technology company Eybna specializes in terpene science. It offers a breakdown of each of its signature flavors so producers can see which terpenes create a seemingly simple flavor like Pink Lemonade.
Unlike other drinks, cannabis beverages aren’t popular strictly because they taste appealing. People are buying them for the effects!
This could be another reason why Pink Lemonade is in such high demand. Limonene, beta-caryophyllene, and myrcene are all stimulating terpenes, beloved for their mood-boosting properties.
Research conducted by several terpene providers, including Abstrax and Eybna, determined myrcene has sedative and motor relaxant effects, giving the user a feeling of calm and relaxation.
What pairs better with barbeque pork and a hot summer day than an ice-cold root beer?
Its malty sweetness transports you back to grandma’s house, diving into a frothy root beer float.
Headset reported Keef Cola’s Bubba Kush Root Beer was the third best-selling beverage in the first quarter of 2021.
The dominant terpenes in root beer are pinene, myrcene, cymene, and geraniol.
Pinene has a spicy, woody aroma.
Studies with mice have shown pinene to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties with some sedative effects.
This relaxing yet spicy terpene is present in OG Kush, which Eybna classified as the “most popular phenotype in the world.”
Cymene is abundant in cumin and thyme oil. It’s valued for its woody notes.
Research on human cells indicates this terpene is anti-inflammatory and has pain-relieving properties.
Geraniol is a versatile terpene. It’s often used in scented candles and hygiene products for its rose-like scent.
It can also reproduce the fruitiness of plum and watermelon. While these notes may be subtle in a flavor like Root Beer, it’s the effects that make this terpene so powerful.
Numerous studies have shown Geraniol to have antifungal and antioxidant qualities. It’s also being studied for its ability to fight cancer cells.
Something for Sipping
Uncle Arnie’s Sweet Peach Iced Tea is another top-selling favorite, according to Headset. Sweet tea is nostalgic, at least for those with some Southern heritage.
Add delicate peach undertones and the result is one of America’s most enduring flavor combinations.
Perfecting a flavor profile that’s so well known can be a challenge.
If everyone knows how it’s supposed to taste, any unusual notes will stand out on the palate.
Terpenes include caryophyllene, limonene, and humulene.
Many of these notes are available in other tea terpene formulations, like Abstrax’s Green Tea Terpene blend.
The peach notes are fruity and a bit sour, with heavy concentrations of myrcene and trans-beta-ocimene.
Caryophyllene brings a peppery element noted to have anti-anxiety effects. It’s also the focus of several studies researching Alzheimer’s and diabetes prevention.
Limonene is, you guessed it, sweet and citrusy. Eybna reports it is one of the most common terpenes in nature and it’s laden with therapeutic effects ranging from antiviral to anti-inflammatory.
Humulene was named after the plant from which it was first extracted, Humulus lupulus, otherwise known as hops.
It’s what gives IPAs their distinctive aroma. It’s also a dominant terpene in the Pineapple Express strain that’s risen in popularity since the debut of the 2008 film of the same name.
An International Taste Sensation
Sometimes it’s not nostalgia or familiarity that generates excitement. Novel flavor pairings entice the adventurous and appeal to more international sensibilities.
CANN Blood Orange Cardamom Social Tonic was the second hottest selling product in America in the first quarter of 2021, reported Headset.
Cardamom is a popular flavor in Indian cuisine and is quickly gaining a toehold in U.S. spice cabinets.
While cardamom may sound like it’s loaded with unique terpenes, it’s actually a common source for extracting limonene terpenes.
Limonene helps other terpenes absorb more effectively and is being researched for mood regulation.
Berry Tasty Beverages
One of this author’s favorite flavors is berry. Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry — each is unique but conveys the same floral, fruity, tangy notes associated with “berry” flavor.
Headset reported Ray’s Huckleberry Lemonade was America’s fifth favorite cannabis drink in the first quarter of 2021. Ray’s specializes in lemonades, but this huckleberry version is a top seller.
While Ray’s doesn’t offer a terpene breakdown of its flavors, berry-based beverages typically include the following: myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, limonene, linalool, and humulene.
These terpenes are generally associated with mood elevation, relaxation, and anxiety relief. In today’s turbulent times, it’s no wonder these flavors and effects are in peak demand.
A Toast to Good Taste!
Finding the right flavor profiles for your palate (or your customer’s preferences) can require a lot of sampling and taste tests.
Enjoy the process and take your time so as not to overindulge and spoil the fun. While everyone’s taste buds are unique, the top-selling flavors profiled in this article have risen to the top for good reason.
While these terpene formulations are excellent in beverages, exercise caution before putting flavors into other cannabis products like vape oils.
Many blends are food safe, but not recommended for combustion and inhalation. As with any cannabis product, enjoy responsibly and start slow — you never know how quickly your body will metabolize the compounds.