Medical marijuana dispensary review: Tea Pot Lounge in Denver

This dispensary has closed.

My visit to Tea Pot Lounge started out normally enough. I walked in to the funky bungalow, checked out some "Down to Blaze" T-shirts, then sauntered back to the receptionist. But after checking my ID and red card, she looked at me oddly and said, "I think I know who you are. I mean, you are that guy, right?"

Tea Pot Lounge

2008 Federal Blvd. Denver, CO 80211 303-656-9697 www.wherestheweed.at

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Online menu: Yes. Other types of medicine: Icewater hash, quick-wash ISO hash. Handicap-accessible? Yes.

I've never come across this situation in two years of doing these reviews, so I don't really have a prepared response. "I have no clue what you are talking about," I told her, my red face and deer-in-the-headlights eyes saying the opposite. We went back and forth for a minute until she reminded me that Tea Pot is connected with both Cherry Co. and Pearl Co. and that my reviews of those shops were pretty detailed. Figuring out who I was wasn't that hard, she confessed.

Okay, bound to happen at some point, I guess. But it wasn't going to change how I did the review, and I wasn't going to waste my drive up Federal. After some more awkward conversation in which I acted like she was crazy, my budtender, Lauren, finished copying my paperwork and ushered me back to the bud bar around the corner from the spacious red-and-white-painted waiting area.

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The other two shops received solid marks from us in the past, so I generally knew what to expect going into Tea Pot herb-wise. But that's not to say they're the same otherwise. While Cherry Co. and Pearl Co. fit into the tony shopping areas where they are respectively located, Tea Pot feels at home with its no-frills section of Federal. No fancy signs, no huge edible displays -- just well-grown herb at reasonable prices.

Lauren said the patients she sees at Tea Pot are generally working-class people looking to make their marijuana money go just a bit further. That's reflected in prices generally lower than those at the other two shops, as well as smaller selections of edibles -- a meager selection of baked treats from Dr. J's, EdiPure and CheebaChews quad dose for $10 to $15. People on this side of town just like to smoke, she added. I can dig it; I'm the same way.

The small, red bud bar was decorated similarly to the waiting room, with paintings from local artists. It wasn't fancy, but it was clean and easy to navigate through the different cannabis strains in tall glass jars lined up in glass display cases. Though she had me figured out and kept saying she was nervous, Lauren was nevertheless friendly and talked me through the strains with a little hippie drawl as a Grateful Dead tune played lightly on the stereo in the next room. She knew her stuff, naming off crosses and how each strain worked on her. Member prices run from $25 to $40 for 3.5 grams, with non-members paying about $5 more for an eighth, on average. The shop also weighs out four-gram bags on Wednesday and has been known to drop prices below the $20 mark on some strains from time to time.

I got a look at about a dozen different flowers, including a beautifully frosty and sweet Black Ice OG, some decent Super Silver Haze, the same Super Silver Haze/OG cross dubbed Kizzle that the Cannasseur developed and a few other nose-ticking and mouthwatering OG blends. My budtender pushed me along in the direction of her personal favorites, but even knowing who I was and why I was in there, she wasn't trying to push any one strain on me above another. Most of what I saw on the shelf was enticing and I struggled with what to bring home this week for a good five minutes.

After making your ganja selection at Tea Pot, it is going to be worth your while to check out the concentrates as well. I've written plenty about Selecta Nikka T and his hashmaking prowess, so I won't go back over that ground other than to say Tea Pot is Nik's home base and the shop obviously carries his work. The day I was in, there were about a half-dozen strain-specific hashes on hand, each divided up further by micron screen. All of them looked as waxy and smelled as pungent as usual with Essential Extracts creations.

More intriguing was the selection of hash made using the quick-wash isopropyl alcohol method sometimes called QWISO. While butane-extracted hash has become extremely popular here in Colorado, QWISO, its cousin, is less well known. There are varying methods, but generally all QWISO is made by mixing 99 percent rubbing alcohol with plant material for a very brief amount of time, straining out the alcohol, then evaporating it to leave behind the alcohol-soluble cannabinoids. While still dangerous in comparison to the icewater hash method, QWISO is nowhere near as volatile a solvent as butane and some say much cleaner.

Tea Pot has devoted an entire lab in the back of the shop to this process, and what I saw on the shelves was very impressive. Pretty much the only things left during my visit were small one-third grams, each folded into a piece of butcher paper so as not to stick to the plastic jar. After sniffing through the four or five strains on deck, I settled for the nose-pleasing Double Deadhead. First time patients get member pricing, so I wound up paying around $50 for an eighth of herb and a one-third gram of the QWISO wax.

Page down for strain reviews and photos. Golden Goat: $35/eighth One of the most solid looking and smelling sativa doms in the shop, the Golden Goat was an easy pick for me this week, thanks to its almost eucalyptus menthol finish and sweet, floral aroma. As I've mentioned several times, the source of this amazing strain is a friend, and it's often hard to find samples that compare to what comes out of his garden. The buds I brought home from Tea Pot did, though, burning to a clean white ash. It was a well cured sample as well, with a flavor that mimics the tangy sweet smell. Burning it left a barely discernible haze that lingered for a split second in the nose after exhaling. Not a strain for those of you with high stress, but if you're looking for an energetic sativa buzz more akin to a cup of espresso than anything else, this is where you should be at. I enjoy it for the munchies it produces as well as the happy, perma-grin buzz. Non-member pricing is $35, making this a solid purchase -- one I was happy to smoke on for a week. OG18: $35/eighth This OG stood out from the other four or five Tea Pot had on its shelves due to its deep, earthy smell and frosted appearance. Not that the others were sub-par by any means, but the 18 had to come home to my bowl. Breaking it open reminded me of unsealing a bag of soil, which subsequently reminded me that spring is around the corner and got me excited for some outdoor growing -- hopefully of herb like this. Dense but spongy calyx formation and a tight trim that kept the sugar leaves down without chopping up the bud. Well-cured and dried, giving off a taste similar to the smell, but with a SweeTart-like nose to the otherwise funky, rubbery taste behind most OGs. It offered instant relaxation in the face and neck, making this strain good for tension and pain relief. But it also zoned me out, and I had to be careful about how much I puffed during the day. Like the Goat, this was a well-grown, well-cured sample that I was still enjoying as of this morning. Double Deadhead OG QWISO hash: $50/gram Maleable like a marijuana Fruit Roll-Up, you can roll off bits off this amber goo much more easily than with BHO of the same consistency at room temperature. Keeping it in one place in your fingers for too long made it tacky like rubber cement. Dabs of this ISO put on top of a bowl or sizzled on top of a titanium skillet hit hard and fast, drooping my eyes and relaxing back tension immediately. Two dabs were enough to make me forget about a kink in my back as well as any obligations I may have had for the rest of my Monday afternoon. It burned very clean, but with a somewhat generic, hashy taste to the smoke. From what I've seen, the folks at Tea Pot are the only ones doing ISO on a big scale right now, and it's cool to see this alternative extraction method getting some attention. At $50 a gram, it's spendy, but the shop sells it as sizes as small as a third of a gram -- which is more than enough to cap a few bowls throughout your week.

William Breathes is the pot pen name for Westword's medical marijuana dispensary critic. Read more of his reviews over at Mile Highs and Lows and catch up with all your marijuana news here at The Latest Word.

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