Signs of Top Quality Cannabis Buds

09 Apr 2023

Oftentimes unless you are purchasing your personal smoke from a coffee shop, dispensary or social club, knowing what the quality of the flower is like in advance, can be hit or miss. What defines a flower as good or bad quality will ultimately determine the smoking experience. In this article we break down the good and bad qualities of indoor grown flowers, what to look out for and 5 top tips on how to get the best tasting and smoothest taste possible.

Signs of top quality Cannabis buds

When it comes to high grade Cannabis flower, you will usually be able to find it from well known Dutch coffee shops or popular social clubs in Barcelona. The cost will usually be between 12 euros upwards per gram, with the more exotic and rare flavors from the US being the most expensive, hyped and sought after. 


The way the buds look when presented in a bag, will be a well trimmed thumb size bud that is hard to squeeze and does not fall apart, until breaking with your fingers. The pistils will be an orange or brown color, and the calyx will be swollen. When examining the bud under a microscope, you will notice a perfect set of trichomes covering the calyx, and the maturity of the trichomes will be a milky silver or amber tinted color. 


The essential oils and terpenes present in the trichome heads of top quality flowers will be full of terpenes and have a head turning smell. When grinding open a bud, there will be an onslaught of aromas ranging from fruity, floral, earthy, tart, fuel and gas. Depending on the cultivar itself, top quality Cannabis buds can test as high as 4-5% terpenes.


The flavor and taste of a bong, joint, pipe or blunt when smoking top quality grade flower is what makes the world of difference as far as the smoking experience is concerned. You should be able to pull on a rolled joint and without lighting, already have a strong and clear taste coming through the filter, and when lit will ignite with a splash of lip - licking terpenes that will coat the lips on the exhalation. 

Smoking experience

If you are with your friends in a social scenario, or sat at home smoking alone, the way the joint burns, the color of the ash and how smooth each toke of the joint is, will ultimately make or break the experience. When smoking top quality flower, lighting the joint should only need to be done once, and as the ember seems to effortlessly burn without needing relighting, the ash is a white or light gray color with a soft and light structure. You will be able to taste the terpenes until the very last toke, and will want to roll another joint immediately after. 

Signs of bad quality

Poor quality Cannabis can be found at street level, and will be grown on a commercial scale with little care from the grower. Badly home-grown Cannabis can be down to giving the plants too many nutrients and not undergoing the 14-day flushing period. The way the harvested plants are dried, trimmed and cured will also determine the final outcome.


The buds may be darker color than the typical shining green buds we typically associate top quality with, and will be on the spongy side, as opposed to dense and hard to squeeze. Just by looking at the buds you will see the trichome coverage is questionable, and combined with a poor trim job, the bag appeal of the flowers is very low. You will struggle to find any consistency amongst the buds, and most will be pop corn sized. Low quality means low price and paying anywhere between 2-4 euro per gram will be expected, especially in Spain.


You will know immediately from the aroma of bad quality Cannabis, as when squeezing a bud to inspect, the smell will not be pleasant. There may be a faint smell coming through, which is a combination of low resin production and being incorrectly dried. Most times there will be a musky smell indicating the crop was sat around for some time before being sold and has almost no essence of life. 


Similar to the way the aroma leaves you disappointed, the flavor will usually be a reflection of the lack of essential oils and bad drying conditions. When lighting a joint or bong, the immediate taste will usually be harsh, spicy and when exhaling cause you to cough non-stop. At no point is there a cocktail of terpenes washing over your taste buds and when finishing the joint, you are left with an unpleasant spicy sensation and potential sore throat.

Smoking experience

Unless you are absolutely desperate, and it is an emergency situation, the smoking experience obtained from bad quality flower is something you don’t want to live out again as a fellow connoisseur. From the moment you light up the joint, and endure the chemical, hot and harsh smoke, you will be looking forward to putting the joint out, without any desire to want to roll another one immediately after. The ash will burn unevenly, need constant lighting, and amongst a circle of friends can become annoying. The ash will have a dense consistency and will reveal a charcoal black color when stubbed out.

5 Top tips on growing Tasty Buds

Top Tip #1 - Organic nutrients will always produce the best tasting and most terpene rich buds, compared to using chemical base feeds. The plants will also produce more flavonoids, terpenes and essential oils, which is why outdoor organic flowers are still the most sought after flowers in the US.

Top Tip #2 - Make sure that you flush your plants for at least 10 days before harvesting. The plants will begin to fade and produce an array of rainbow colored leaves. This is a sign the plants have used up all their nutrients and will be as smooth as possible once dried and smoked.

Top Tip #3 - Organic compost tea and cold water extracts are an excellent, cheap and effective way to provide the growing medium with a tonic of beneficial microbes and fungi, primary nutrients and trace elements. Teas and extracts will take the aroma and flavor to another level.

Top Tip #4 - Harvesting your plants at the exact time when the terpenes and essential oils are at their peak, is the best way to achieve the ultimate aroma, taste and effect. Do not harvest the plants early or late and pay close attention to the trichome development, color of the head and how swollen the calyx has become.

Top Tip #5 - The drying room plays a massive role in the final outcome of the crop. Properly dried Cannabis buds will have no fresh smell that reflects chlorophyll, and should have a pungent and lingering smell when handled. Make sure you dry your buds out consistently in a room that is around 50% humidity and 15 degrees Celsius, taking between 10–14 days.


The very best way to ensure you are smoking top quality flower is to grow it yourself, and follow all the protocols to make sure the final smoking experience is worthy of a cup winning entry. Nobody really enjoys smoking low quality flower, but needs must sometimes and when you do visit an Amsterdam coffee shop or Spanish social club, you will truly appreciate what top quality flower, hash and extracts really is!