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Cannabinoids like THC and CBD may take center stage in the cannabis conversation, but terpenes are quickly catching up. These compounds greatly enhance our overall cannabis experience, influencing how cannabis smells, tastes, and even how you experience it. The Travel Agency’s terpene guide will take you through what terpenes are, how they work, and some major cannabis terpenes you should look out for when shopping in the dispensary.

A list with red text on a cream-colored background. An image of a blue sky with fluffy white clouds is embedded in the middle. Overlaid in red text, the headline says: "7 Most Common Cannabis Terpenes". The seven items on the list include: "Myrcene", "Beta-caryophyllene", "Limonene", Pinene", "Linalool", "Humulene", and "Terpinolene".

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are plant-based compounds that make plants of all kinds, including cannabis, smell or taste a certain way. If you ever picked up a package of Super Lemon Haze and its scent transports you to a citrus grove, that’s thanks to terpenes.


In nature, terpenes play important roles in the plant’s life cycle, warding off predators, protecting against bacteria and diseases, attracting pollinators, and more. More than 20,000 terpenes have been identified in the plant kingdom, and anywhere from around 150 to around 400 terpenes have been identified in cannabis so far.

What’s considered a high amount of terpenes?

Terpenes are quite sensitive to temperature and have low boiling points. This means much of the terpene profile in a cannabis cultivar may not ever make it to your rolling tray — and that’s expected. Keep this in mind when reading a cultivar’s terpene profile; terpene amounts as small as 1% or 0.5% may be considered high, depending on the terpene and the cultivar.


For example, myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis and is considered present in high levels when present at around 1%. Other terpenes, like linalool, are considered significant around 0.5%. This may seem miniscule when compared to THC content, but it is still significant enough to influence your consumption experience.


How do cannabis terpenes work in your body?

When you consume cannabis terpenes, they circulate and interact with hormones and receptors in your brain and body. Terpenes also influence neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are linked to mood, appetite, energy levels, and sleep. That means terpenes can offer therapeutic benefits in addition to enjoyable tastes and smells. Some offer energizing and uplifting feelings, while others promote relaxation and stress relief.


Terpenes can also change the way you feel after consuming a cannabis product. Some terpenes can influence the way cannabinoids work with your body’s endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS), which in turn influences your experience. This is known as the entourage effect, and it makes it important to understand which terpenes are in a cannabis product and how they may affect you before buying.

Do terpenes influence the endocannabinoid system?

Most terpenes do not directly influence the ECS but instead produce their effects in other ways. There is one exception to this rule in beta-caryophyllene, though. Beta-caryophyllene interacts with the CB2 receptors of the ECS, activating them and prompting effects much like a cannabinoid would. Beta-caryophyllene can reduce inflammation and offer pain relief, and may be a useful tool in addressing metabolic disorders, mental health conditions like depression, and chronic pain.


7 common cannabis terpenes that influence your experience

The terpenes listed here are among the most abundant and common across cannabis cultivars. Here’s a quick overview of each, along with the flavors, aromas, and effects you can expect when they’re present.



Get ready for a deeply relaxing journey with myrcene in the mix. Try a high-myrcene cultivar or cannabis product when you’re ready to unwind. As the most abundant terpene in cannabis, myrcene pops up in many cultivars, including classics like OG Kush.


Myrcene has an herbal and fruity smell with a sweet, spicy flavor. In addition to cannabis, it can also be found in mangoes, hops, and thyme.


  • What does myrcene smell like? Earthy, cloves, tropical fruits
  • Which effects may myrcene have? Sedating, relaxing
  • Cultivars high in myrcene: Grandaddy Purple, OG Kush



Exploring a spice market comes to mind when smelling beta-caryophyllene, with its spicy and peppery tastes and aromas. It comes as no surprise, then, that this terpene is also abundant in black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. In cannabis, beta-caryophyllene can be found in high levels in some well-known cultivars like Sour Diesel and White Widow.


  • What does beta-caryophyllene smell like? Spicy and sweet
  • Which effects may beta-caryophyllene have? Calming, anti-anxiety, pain relief
  • Cultivars high in beta-caryophyllene: Sour Diesel, White Widow



There’s a reason bath bombs and lotions smell like lavender. Just the scent of the linalool terpene, abound in lavender flowers, may be enough to gently send you into a state of relaxation.

Linalool offers the sweet, floral smell of lavender with a taste to match, adding just a hint of spiciness. In cannabis, linalool is found in strains such as Amnesia Haze and the aptly named Lavender Kush. Try cultivars with linalool for relaxation, stress management, busting anxiety, and trying to get to sleep.


  • What does Linalool smell like? Floral and spicy
  • Which effects may linalool have? Stress relief, sedative, sleep aid
  • Cultivars high in linalool: Amnesia Haze, Lavender Kush



Recognizable by an earthy, hoppy scent and notes of bitterness in its flavor profile, humulene is a shining star in the cannabis terpene bouquet. Humulene, which is common in hops, coriander, and sage, pops up in cultivars like GSC and Skywalker OG. This terpene has been linked to pain relief thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, mood elevation, stress relief, and its influence on appetite, among other effects.


  • What does humulene smell like? Wood and spice
  • Which effects may humulene have? Anti-inflammatory, appetite suppressant
  • Cultivars high in humulene: GSC, Skywalker OG



There are actually two varieties of pinene in cannabis: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. And if you ever noticed a slight Christmas tree smell when checking out some cannabis, that’s thanks to this terpene. Alpha-pinene is recognizable by its earthy, herbal scent and flavor, while beta-pinene is known for a more minty, woody character.


Look for high levels of alpha-pinene in Blue Dream and Pineapple Express, and expect beta-pinene to appear in strains like Blueberry. Alpha-pinene promotes relaxation and pain relief, while beta-pinene may boost mood and energy levels, making them a great combination.


  • What does Pinene smell like? Earth and pine
  • Which effects may pinene have? Anti-inflammatory, bronchodilator, memory enhancer
  • Cultivars high in pinene: Blue Dream, Pineapple Express, Blueberry



While it may not take center stage like other terpenes, terpinolene is still an important, even if minor, player in the world of cannabis terpenes. Terpinolene often comes along for the ride when myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, and pinene are present. If total relaxation is your destination, a cultivar high in terpinolene like Clementine or Jack Herer is your ticket to get there.


  • What does terpinolene smell like? Herbal, citrusy, pine
  • Which effects may terpinolene have? Relaxation, sedation, antioxidant, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • Cultivars high in terpinolene: Clementine, Jack Herer



Expect an uplifting start to your journey when limonene is involved. A cultivar high in limonene takes your senses through markets with baskets brimming with grapefruits, oranges, and lemons. It brings a flavor profile to match, with predictably sweet and sour notes. In cannabis, limonene appears in significant amounts in cultivars like Wedding Cake and Tahoe OG. Studies show limonene offers antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Outside the cannabis realm, limonene is found in citrus fruits, as well as dill and caraway.


  • What does limonene smell like? Zesty and citrusy
  • Which effects may limonene have? Mood enhancer, digestive support, antibacterial, antifungal
  • Cultivars high in limonene: Wedding Cake, Tahoe OG


Understanding how terpene content is listed on the product label

In New York City, cannabis products are required to include a label listing the three most abundant terpenes in the product by weight in milligrams or as a percentage of volume by weight. For example, if there is one milligram of myrcene in one gram (100 mg) of cannabis, that would be 1% myrcene by volume.


Use the label or protect test results as a roadmap for your sesh. Assessing the terpene profile as a whole helps you gain a better understanding of where precisely this journey will take you. It may take some trial and error to determine exactly what terpene profiles you prefer, so don’t be afraid to try new cannabis products to see what you like most. At The Travel Agency, our budtenders are always happy to help offer recommendations, as well.


Take terpenes into account in your next NYC dispensary trip

Terpenes are so much more than the way a strain smells and tastes — they can drive the direction of your entire cannabis experience. Stop by The Travel Agency and check out our selection of cannabis products with diverse terpene profiles. Want to travel without leaving home? Order your weed for local NYC delivery, now available throughout Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

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