Cannabis growing closeup
Terpene-filled resin oozes from the trichomes of a cannabis plant. Credit: Visit Hollyweed / Visit Hollyweed

The data and information in this post is provided by Emerald Cup x SC Labs based on “PhytoFacts,” as published online in February, 2022.

The Emerald Cup is a longstanding cannabis competition that has taken place in Northern California for decades. The Emerald Cup seeks to award the very best cannabis in the Emerald Triangle region.

Classification of Strains

Strain classifications were created by applying scientific chemical analysis combined with the knowledge and experience of California cultivators and Emerald Cup judges.

The class names are based either on common strains from that group or else from its common smells.

Although intended for use by judges of the Emerald Cup, this classification scheme is based on analysis of tens of thousands of unique genetics, making it universal for categorizing weed. In other words, whether participating in the Emerald Cup or not, all weed can be described using this classification model.

The Emerald Cup’s Six Classes of Strains

  1. Jacks & Haze
  2. Tropical & Floral
  3. OGs & Gas
  4. Sweets & Dreams
  5. Dessert
  6. Exotics

Terminology used

Each of these classes are defined by the following variables: strain type, tasting notes, effects, terpene profile, and common cultivars.

The class is the Emerald Cup’s scientifically determined category as defined by the set of variables above. These classes are meant to be used when judging the best weed from the Emerald Triangle.

The strain type is whether it is a sativa, indica, hybrid, or combination. This is how the Cannabis plant’s subspecies are categorized.

Tasting notes are based on the scents that the plant’s terpenes give off. You can smell them from the unsmoked bud and taste them while you smoke it. Sometimes referred to as flavors.

Effects are the common experiences that a strain with this terpene profile and genetics would usually give. According to SC Labs, the Emerald Cup classes are more useful for describing the effects of a particular strain compared to the tradition of referring to indica, sativa, and hybrid to describe the effects.

Terpene profile refers to the combination of terpenes that define this category. Strains in this category would tend to have this combination of terpenes (usually a top 2-4 terpenes make up a terpene profile). Terpenes are molecules in the resin of the plant that add medicinal effects to the THC and CBD of the plant. Terpene profiles are what make cannabis smell strongly and are what define its effects and categories. The terpene profile can be determined through testing. Tests sometimes report the total terpene content as a percent (from 0-6%). Unlike THC, terpene content degrades over time from its peak point just after curing.

Common cultivars are the popular strains that best exemplify this category; and/or they are the traditional strains that this category is based on. You may still see these strains on the market, or you might see strains that descend from these popular ancestor strains.

Class: Jacks & Haze

  • Strain type: mostly sativa
  • Tasting notes: Fruity, Pinesol, Haze
  • Effects: Energizing, Cerebral, Artistically Inspiring
  • Common cultivars: Classic Trainwreck, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, Super Lemon Haze
  • Terpene profile: Terpinolene, Caryophyllene, Myrcene

Class: Tropical & Floral

  • Strain type: indica
  • Tasting notes: Sweet, Floral, Tropical Fruit
  • Effects: Calming, Soothing, Relaxing
  • Common cultivars: Super Skunk, Hawaiian, In the Pines, Dream Queen
  • Terpene profile: Ocimene and Myrcene

Class: OGs & Gas

  • Strain type: hybrid
  • Tasting notes: Gas, Fuel, Sweet, Citrus and Pepper
  • Effects: Uplifting, Stimulating, Analgesic, Relaxation
  • Common cultivars: OG Kush, Chem Dawg, Sour Diesel, Gorilla Glue
  • Terpene profile: [Any shifting codominance of] Limonene, Myrcene, Caryophyllene

Class: Sweets & Dreams

  • Strain type: indica
  • Tasting notes: Fruity, Sweet, Woody, Hoppy, Herbaceous
  • Effects: none provided
  • Common cultivars: Tangie, Cherry AK, Purps, Blue Dream
  • Terpene profile: Myrcene, Pinene, Caryophyllene

Class: Dessert

  • Strain type: hybrid
  • Tasting notes: Desserts, Doughs, Citrusy & Spicy
  • Effects: Stimulating, Racy, Uplifting, Comforting
  • Common cultivars: Classic Bubba Kush, GSC, Gelatos, Cakes
  • Terpene profile: [Any shifting codominance of] Limonene & Caryophyllene

Class: Exotics

  • (despite popular usage, defined by Emerald Cup as a rare terpene combination)
  • Strain type: any
  • Tasting notes: varied based on chemistry of entry
  • Effects: varied based on chemistry of entry
  • Common cultivars: rarest terpene profiles entered into the Emerald Cup Competition.

Card Deck by the Emerald Cup, 2022

Terpene Profile Classification system. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Jacks and Haze Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Tropical and Floral Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile OGs and Gas Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Sweets and Dream Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Dessert Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Exotics Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Jacks and Haze Class description card. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Tropical and Floral Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Tropical and Floral Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile OG and Gas Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile OG and Gas Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Sweets and Dreams Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Sweets and Dreams Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Dessert Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed
Terpene Profile Dessert Class Example of test results. Provided by SC Labs and the Emerald Cup. Credit: Emerald Cup / Visit Hollyweed