Tasked with the assignment of reviewing one strain per week, it's hard to pick just ten favorites from 2018. The ever-expanding web of cannabis genetics provides buds that smell and taste like everything from cornbread to papayas and nearly everything in between. Those variances extend to effects on the mind and body, too, with some strains glueing us to the couch and others making the heart race.
In a grueling effort, we picked ten of our cannabis reviewer's favorite strains of 2018. This skunky mix of indicas, sativas and hybrids look, taste and feel like every color of the rainbow — and make you feel just as magical.
Each bud of Mandarin Cookies hits your nose like a gust of wind, pumping out sour, earthy and Diesel notes with a doughy, citrus-heavy back end. The sweet, gassy combination is intoxicating before you even pack a bowl.
This indica-leaning strain certainly relaxes and soothes the body, while effects on the mind are both vigorous and uplifting without annoying sidekicks like anxiety or inattention. The strain instantly impressed when I experienced its caressing high and rubbery, sweet stank for the first time last year, and it's been on my most-wanted list ever since.
A heavy indica-leaning hybrid of Cherry Pie and Grape Stomper, Grape Pie offers sweet, doughy flavors similar to Cookies variants, but with a syrupy-grape addition. The strain is gaining steam among home growers and dispensaries in California and Colorado since its introduction a couple of years ago, and is growing in popularity thanks to breeders like the Jungle Boys and Cannarado Genetics.
Cornbread’s parents are both formidable indicas, so expect the same melting high from their child. This can be dangerous given Cornbread’s unique mix of citrus, honey, doughy, herbal and soil flavors, which made it hard to tap out after my first session. Sure enough, I took about ten collective steps in the following hours, most of which I don’t remember.
Papaya is known to create a productive spark of concentration, but that can peter out within a couple of hours — and that’s when the lull comes. I’d argue that Papaya is a hybrid, with the daytime/nighttime designation depending more on the user. The strain’s relaxing effects have been used to treat pain, stress, mental anguish, physical fatigue and nausea.
Rich and complex, Ecto-Cooler is a rare sativa-leaning hybrid with a high that would make you think you’re smoking electrolytes except for the impending dry mouth. Its sensory characteristics might be even more powerful, carrying a blend of pungent citrus and pine notes topped off with a strong Chemdawg-like whiff of kitchen cleaner. The upbeat effects pump up the body like a car jack, and the flavor profile is the weed equivalent of a double IPA: juicy, resinous and extreme.
A child of Gorilla Glue and Tangie, Citrus Sap is a sativa-dominant strain that revels in each parent’s most popular aspects: heavy resin production and stark orange flavor, respectively. Experienced users and growers alike enjoy the strain’s high THC potency and strong yields, but novices can find themselves in too deep for the same reasons.
The strain itself is both funky and sugary-sweet, with a fruity, doughy flavor similar to Froot Loops and vivid purple colors to match. Bred from Girl Scout Cookies and Wookie 15 by Bodhi Seeds, Granola Funk’s striking visual and aromatic qualities make it a top-shelf cut at most dispensaries, and its relaxing, potent effects are gaining a reputation on the West Coast for versatile medical use.
Add Wedding Cake to a long list of potent indica-dominant hybrids bred from Girl Scout Cookies, which in this case was crossed with Cherry Pie for a true nighttime delicacy. It's highly advised that you don't touch the strain until after the sun goes down and dinner is cooked, because this slice of dessert will be the final thing you consume before hitting the hay.
I personally love Cactus Breath’s intense funk, with sweet, grainy flavors and a creamy back end that remind me of tomato sauce and lemongrass. The weird combination of characteristics can be an acquired taste, but any seasoned toker will appreciate the strain’s full-course flavor. With roots tracing back to British Columbia and California, the strain typically sticks to the West Coast and doesn’t stray much.