Does anyone else regret meeting their heroes? I ran into Chauncey Billups at an NBA event in Las Vegas when I was twelve, right after he won the 2004 NBA Finals. Total dick. No autograph, no hello — he just stood in front of a lobby TV, alone, ignoring the sniveling kid in a Melo jersey asking for his autograph. Michael Jordan stiffed kids, too. If you ask some of my golf-caddying friends, they’ll tell you that John Elway’s a shitty tipper. My point: Sometimes it’s best to only interact with your favorite superstars through a screen.
I’ve experienced similar disappointment with notorious cannabis strains. A trip through Europe promised my first experiences with African, Jamaican and Thai landraces — all of which looked, smelled and smoked like brick weed once I tried them. Purple Thai, either a mix of Oaxacan Gold and Chocolate Thai or a landrace, depending on the source, was even more disappointing; seeing it listed on a Denver dispensary menu brought flashbacks of brown, seedy nugs in a dim Amsterdam coffee shop. But modern American takes on such classics as Colombian Gold and Durban Poison made me optimistic enough to give Purple Thai another shot.
If Purple Thai isn’t one of the forefathers (or mothers) of modern cannabis, it’s just one generation behind. The sativa has reportedly birthed Flo, Chemdawg 91 and Purple Haze, among others. But like most building blocks of chronic, Purple Thai isn’t bred toward today’s standards of taste and potency on a mass scale. It can achieve THC levels of around 20 percent and carries a smooth, fruity smoke, but the versions I’ve come across are dull in flavor and don’t look like anything special.
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I’ve only seen Purple Thai at Diego Pellicer and the Kind Room, and neither turned out to have much punch. Sadly, both were pretty flavorless (I hear it’s not the easiest strain for commercial growers and takes a long time to flower). If you can’t find Purple Thai but are chasing the high, Flo’s effects are very similar, but slightly more sedative. Good Chemistry, Medicine Man and New Amsterdam Organics all carry similar strains with heavy Thai sativa influences, too.
Looks: More of a midnight-purple than mauve, Purple Thai usually has very dark-purple oblong, loose buds. If the lights aren’t on, you might think the buds are black or dyed with food coloring. Forest-green calyxes and a general lack of trichome coverage make it one of the darker strains out there.
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Smell: Purple Thai won’t blow your nostrils away; earthy, floral and chocolate notes combine for a chalky smell. Don’t get too lazy, though, because a skunky, sweet aroma slowly permeates any area once you break up those nugs.
Flavor: While it may seem a little bland compared to intense, high-terpene strains like Tangerine Power or OG Glue, Purple Thai has a creamy, nutty flavor reminiscent of dark-roasted coffee. Earthy, herbal notes come in at the end.
Effects: That reputation of pure sativa should be respected, as Purple Thai’s effects explode like a geyser in your mind. Mental stimulation, energy and appetite are unquestionably increased with each rip, but so is dry mouth and distraction. Paranoia is light, however. Purple Thai has been used to help treat eating disorders, depression, stress and intense boredom.
Home grower’s take: “This is like playing the oldies, man. The basics and quality are there, but it’s just different, because the technology and thrills are not. Tall branches, long and slender buds and a lot of hairs. It doesn’t smell bad, and the high is really strong, but it just doesn’t look that great compared to other strains. You can pull some berry flavors out, which isn’t too bad, but it’s not worth the seventy-plus days it takes to flower. Not for those lanky buds.”