Strains & products

Tasted It! Leafly Tries the World’s Hottest Cannabis Debut

Published on April 5, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Go grab these limited edition award-winners at a club near you. (Elise McDonough for Leafly)
Go grab these limited edition award-winners at a club near you. (Elise McDonough for Leafly)

The world’s hottest new strains are coming out in California this spring—specifically, the strains that won the biggest awards at last December’s Emerald Cup, the world’s most prestigious cannabis competition.

Six award-winning, small-batch cultivars from the 2018 Emerald Cup have dropped this week at a California dispensary near you, as part of a limited-edition series from cannabis brand Flow Kana. Each strain is specific to a family farm in the Emerald Triangle, Northern California’s famed cannabis heartland, and can’t be found anywhere else.

We got a chance to taste the entire lineup. Here’s what we found.

Strain #1 — Green Lantern by Ridgeline Farms — Emerald Cup 2018 1st Place, Overall

(Courtesy Flow Kana)

Imagine winning the “Top Chef” cooking competition with a random recipe you found stuffed in a book. That’s what happened to Ridgeline Farms, who took first place with Green Lantern, a strain that comes from a mysterious seed found in a random bag of grass.

“It’s an older strain that my buddy found—one seed in a bag,” says grower Jason Gellman, “It’s kind of a mystery.”

Hailed by the event’s judging panel as the best overall cannabis at the Emerald Cup in 2018, Ridgeline’s Green Lantern also got special props from Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake as his personal favorite of all the hundreds of buds entered in the competition.

A pungent, skunky cross of Skunk, Berry, and an old-school OG Kush, Green Lantern is strong, with THC percentages topping 21%. Musky buds smell of fuel with a hint of fruit and lime, and a peppery flavor in the background, providing a welcome change from the sweet hybrids dominating the California market these days.

Where to Find These New Strains

(Elise McDonough for Leafly)

Flow Kana’s limited-edition strains are at select dispensaries now (see below), and will be available in other areas in mid-April. Only 900 to 2,000 jars exist of each variety, making this something rare and special for seasoned smokers to savor. Find Flow Kana Limited Edition at:

Strain # 2 — Double OG Chem by Rebel Grown — 2nd Place

(Courtesy Flow Kana)

This stuff is OG all the way down.

With intense odors of tangy fuel, these chunky dense buds exude whiffs of aged cheese, skunk, and kelp. This powerful varietal boasts incredible resin production and THC levels at 23%, making this suitable for smokers with a high tolerance.

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Specializing in crosses of OG Kush and Chemdog, Dan Pomerantz at Rebel Grown combined his best-selling cultivars to create the Double OG Chem.

Starting ten years ago with a seed collection that included five OG Chem beans, Pomerantz ended up with one favorite plant that tested over 32% THC. He preserved this variety by cloning it, and then passing it around under names like Twist OG and Kush Dog.

This cloned variety of OG Chem suffered from a weakness to pests, though, so Pomerantz improved it over the years, “making all of these hybrids and back-crosses, trying to create something that had the sheer potency and really incredible flavors, but also an easier, better plant to grow.”

Succeeding in this quest with a cross of a OG Chem Dog mother with a Double OG Sour father, the Double OG Chem was born.

Strain #3 — Orange Creamsicle by Esensia Farms — Sungrown Category Finalist

This remarkable flowers smells exactly like its namesake frozen treat!

As you inhale the citrus and creamy vanilla aroma, you can almost hear the tinkling bells of the ice cream truck in the distance. Besides powerfully nostalgic sense memories, this unique cultivar also conjures up a calm and active high with 24% THC.

A cross of Orange Tahoe and Cookies n’ Cream, the experience of smoking this varietal is complex and nuanced.

Ben Blake, cultivator at Esensia Farms, describes the experience of Orange Creamsicle as containing “a treasure trove of complex, layered flavors including Valencia and Mandarin orange on the initial inhale, that evolves into gasoline and fuel as the flavor washes over your palate and finishing with satisfying notes of creamy vanilla ice cream.”

Strain #4 — Strawberry Valley by HappyDay Farms — Regenerative Farm Award Recipient

(Courtesy Flow Kana)

Combining fruit and fuel flavors to create a bouquet described as “fruitroleum” by its grower Casey O’Neill, this cross of OG Strawberry, Chemdog, and SFV OG smells like damp earth and ripe berries.

“We emphasize a proper cure so the terpenes really pop,” O’Neill says, “It’s a farm favorite.”

The most popular cannabis variety grown at HappyDay Farms, Strawberry Valley is strong and flavorful, with 25% THC and prominent terpenes including caryophyllene, limonene, and humulene.

“This was a cross that we made on farm,” explains O’Neill. “This is an old heritage Strawberry Afghani that was crossed with an OG Kush, and then was crossed with Chem Valley (which is Chem Dog x SFV OG) so it’s got a lot of different fuel strains lurking in it with Strawberry Afghani as the base.”

As recipients of the Emerald Cup’s Regenerative Farm Award, three of Flow Kana’s featured producers—Sun Roots, Radicle Herbs and HappyDay farms—were recognized for going “beyond organic” by using time-honored techniques to build topsoil, retain water and nurture vibrant microbial life that contributes to a sustainable cycle of production.

Strain #5 — Velvet Purps by Sun Roots Farm — Regenerative Farm Award Recipient

(Courtesy Flow Kana)

With a mild THC percentage of 15%, this is cannabis that can be used moderately throughout the day without making you feel overwhelmingly high.

The product of heirloom genetics and many years of breeding by the Gauder family, these dense little nuggets smell of sweet jasmine, musky grape, and a hint of cocoa.

Deep purple flowers with lime green hairs, the Velvet Purps is a unique cross of Jah Goo and T2 only found at Sun Roots farm.

“It’s a magenta purple, it’s very lovely bud,” says Patricia from Sun Roots, “It has this earthy, sweet, floral, deep taste—it’s indescribable.”

Sun Roots goes beyond organic with its farming methods and it paid off.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure how we grow is benefitting the earth and our communities.” says Patricia from Sun Roots, “It’s exciting that Flow Kana is putting out this limited-edition line because the Velvet Purps is definitely an original strain and no one else has anything like it.”

Strain #6 — Blueberry Pie by Radicle Herbs — Regenerative Farm Award Recipient

(Courtesy Flow Kana)

Frosty buds with purple hairs exude aromas of tart berries, pine, sweet flowers and deep fruitiness, making this one of the best-smelling strains available at Radicle Herbs.

Delivering an active and inspiring high, this Blueberry Pie boasts 23% THC and prominent terpenes myrcene, terpinolene and caryophyllene. A cross of Blueberry x OG Kush that Radicle Herbs has been working with over the past five years, the Blueberry Pie is intensely flavorful and it rolls up and burns perfectly.

“It’s really important to support small farmers and know more about where our cannabis comes from,” says Blaire from Radicle Herbs, “sharing genetics preserves the diversity and uniqueness that’s been cultivated throughout this industry.”

What Is the Emerald Cup?

California’s entire cultivation community gathers to determine the state’s best growers of outdoor, organic flowers. What began in 2003 as small private underground affair up in Mendocino County, attended by a few hundred grizzly growers come down from the hills, has now transformed into a world-class two-day event that draws 25,000 people to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

One thing hasn’t changed, however. Many of the winning farms remain small and remote, their highly prized heirloom strains so hard to find they often take on the stuff of legend.

Many of these farms were begun by back-to-the-land homesteaders in the 1960s, and are now maintained by the children and grandchildren of those True OGs. Along the way, they’ve improved and acclimated their heirloom cannabis by selecting for favorable traits, while continuing to steward the land through eco-friendly farming practices.

This traditional culture is being threatened by a rapidly evolving legal cannabis marketplace, where consolidation, automation, and industrial-scale farming results in giant mono-cropped fields of just a few types of cannabis.

“There’s so many heritage strains out there,” says Blaire AuClair from Radicle Herbs, which won the Emerald Cup’s Regenerative Farming Award. “You’re looking at the second and third generation of farmers showcasing these strains that their families have been growing for a long time.”

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Elise McDonough
Elise McDonough
Elise McDonough is a cannabis edibles expert and author of the Bong Appétit cookbook and The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook, and Leafly's Product Specialist for Northern California. A veteran of the cannabis industry since 2002, McDonough has sampled over 500 edibles as a judge for the Cannabis Cup.
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