Why most cannabis products taste bad is a question we're asked often. Here we answer that, as well as what we're doing to fix this issue! There are reasons why some edibles you take might have a strong aftertaste, and what this means in relation to the overall quality of the edible you’re taking.
Why Do Most Cannabis Products Taste So Bad?
Let’s be honest. Many cannabis-infused products, both CBD and THC, taste awful. The reason why is simple: cannabinoid extracts are intensely bitter, earthy, and difficult to work with, owing respectively to the cannabinoids themselves, terpenes, flavonoids, and the complex interactions between them and other ingredients.
When the plant material impacts the flavor profile so intensely, formulating infused foods and beverages is a huge challenge. In the past, consumers bought products for their effects, not for their taste – but now consumers are looking for great-tasting, effective products. Companies that can offer both efficacy and great taste will have an enduring market advantage.
In most emulsified cannabinoid products, carrier oils, preservatives, and surfactants intensify the bitterness. When cannabinoids are broken down into small particles for an emulsion, that creates more surface area for the bitter compounds to interact with the taste receptors. Fortunately, SōRSE emulsion allows for masking any bitter flavors with minimal sugars and additives.
Increasing the concentration of cannabinoids increases the bitterness, a particularly challenging issue for product formulators trying to create tasty CBD-infused products.
WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO FIX IT?
Options for dealing with bitterness fall into two main categories: incorporation or masking, which can be thought of as either going with the flow, or fighting it.
Incorporating the Flavors of Cannabinoids
Incorporation means accepting the naturally bitter, complex flavor of cannabis and working with it rather than trying to hide it. It means thinking of the flavor of the extract as an ingredient in the overall sensory formulation. Generally, we experience sweet, sour, salty, and umami tastes positively; however, bitterness is a component in many pleasant tastes.
Flavors that are naturally bitter, such as peppermint, chocolate, coffee, citrus, or beer, trick the brain into incorporating the bitterness into the familiar flavor, such that it doesn’t register as bitter, but acknowledges it as “peppermint, which is a little bitter.”
Many cannabinoids are bitter, and customers can accept that bitterness is the cost they pay for the effect, or even celebrate and cultivate it, much as we do with caffeine or alcohol.
The trouble with this approach is it limits flavor options. The market is laden with chocolates, sour candies, and peppermint mouth sprays. The industry needs to evolve and match the sophistication of today’s consumers with flavors that appeal to them.
Masking the Flavors of Cannabinoids
Masking is a more traditional, low-tech option that works similarly to incorporation but has the goal of completely erasing the taste of the cannabinoids rather than complementing them. The modern version involves bitter blockers as a process aid, which interfere with the taste buds’ ability to perceive bitterness.
Even though we can eliminate the herbaceous, bitter taste of cannabis, should we? Some people argue that cannabis shouldn’t taste good because its bitterness will make people think of it as medicine, or that without the distinctive taste, accidental ingestion will happen. The fact is, most consumers know their limits, and are looking for other means of recreational or medicinal consumption beyond inhalation. In turn, companies have responded to the growing demand for high-quality infused food and beverages, and are creating products that taste great and deliver cannabinoids efficaciously.
If you are a product developer who has an idea for a great infused product and would like some advice working with the flavor of cannabinoids and terpenes, our R&D team is here to help. They are well-versed in all aspects of product development, from ideation to scale, and are experts when it comes to working with the flavors that cannabinoids offer. Book a call today!
Why Do Some CBD Edibles Have a Strong Aftertaste?
More hemp enthusiasts are gravitating toward edibles, as this delivery method offers a uniquely tasty way to explore the properties of the plant compounds like CBD, while offering the longest-lasting effects out of any of the methods, staying active in the body for several hours per dose. There are all kinds of edible formulas on the market, made with various ingredients, hemp compounds, and flavoring agents.
Maybe you have noticed that certain edibles have a stronger aftertaste than others. Well, there are reasons and causes for that.
Depends on the Hemp Extract Used
Sometimes, the aftertaste you’re experiencing is actually just the natural taste of hemp. Those who are still pretty new to CBD may not realize that hemp has a fairly strong and complex plant taste with notes of pine, citrus and herbs, and this can create something of an aftertaste.
This is only the case, however, if the edibles are made with broad or full spectrum hemp extract. These two types of extracts contain every compound in hemp, including terpenes which are responsible for the flavor profile of the plant. The difference between the two is that full spectrum hemp contains a trace amount of THC that naturally occurs in hemp. CBD isolate edibles do not taste like the hemp plant, because they lack the terpenes that inform the plant’s flavor.
Depends on the Strain
Also, some strains of hemp have a stronger or more lingering taste than others. With edibles, it can be hard to know which strain was used, since edibles are usually not strain-specific like flower or vaping products. However, some strains can have certain flavor notes that result from their terpenes, which create an aftertaste.
Depends on the Sweetener
In some cases, the aftertaste may come from the sweetener that was used. Artificial sweeteners are known for sometimes causing an aftertaste, as does stevia, a naturally derived sweetener that belongs to the mint family. If you are unsure, check the ingredients to see what kind of sweetener was used. Cane sugar and other naturally derived sweeteners tend to have less of an aftertaste.
Depends on the Flavoring Ingredients
Other flavoring ingredients in the formula can produce an aftertaste, and companies can choose from endless varieties of flavoring ingredients to use. If the lingering aftertaste is an actual flavor rather than sweetness or the taste of hemp, look at the ingredients in the formula in hopes of figuring out which one is the culprit.
Depends on the Age of the Edibles
How long the edibles have been sitting around on the shelf can play a role. Technically, CBD edibles should last for about two years, as this is how long it takes for the hemp itself to degrade. Ones that are made with more natural ingredients, however, can degrade sooner than that, and this can definitely affect the flavor. Basically, the most plant-based your edibles are, the more likely the flavor is to transform over time.
An aftertaste may indicate that one of the ingredients has gone “bad,” and no longer tastes the same as it did when it was fresh. This is why you need to look at the expiration date before making a purchase.
Depends on the Milligram Strength
How much hemp is in the formula can play a role too. Again, this only applies to edibles that are made with full spectrum or broad spectrum hemp, which contain the terpenes that give hemp its taste. The higher the milligram strength, the more terpenes are in each edible piece, and therefore the stronger the plant-like taste of hemp will be with each portion.
Depends on the Quality
Sometimes, an aftertaste indicates a general lack of quality or attention to detail, as the company just did not bother to work harder to make a clean-tasting product, or even used low-quality ingredients that are known for producing an undesirable flavor experience.
CBD Edibles Should Always Taste Delicious
Regardless of an edible’s strength and composition of hemp compounds, if you’re getting a strong aftertaste, it can indicate all kinds of things, ranging from cheap flavoring agents to expired ingredients. It can also just mean that you are consuming particularly potent edibles that give you a strong hemp-like taste with each dose.
Still, if the experience of taking CBD in an edible form is unsatisfactory due to taste, try to find another on the market that is more appealing to your taste buds.