STRAIN REVIEW: White Tahoe Cookies from Emerald Frost
WHITE TAHOE COOKIES / EMERALD FROST / AMERICAN CANNABIS CO.
The brooding and savage Pacific Northwest autumn is upon us, its cheery predecessor summarily dispatched by driving rain and impenetrable gloomy fog. Such is the timeless rhythm of this place.
Now is the season for warm fires and deep thoughts. I find fading embers and fresh memories are especially pleasing to the mind’s eye this time of year when the leaves are ablaze in their seasonal hues and the delirium of long days breaks like a fever. It’s here I find the proper space amongst the bare branches and time amongst the Madness to assess, reflect, reset.
Naturally, this affects my choice in Cannabis. It’s usually around this time that I make one of the few good decisions I’ll make in any given year. To that end, it’s White Tahoe Cookies season. Because seriously: fuck pumpkin spice.
This week I’d like to discuss an extremely small garden, situated on an idyllic peaceful road in the country, owned and operated by two of the best humans I’ve known, producing truly exceptional Cannabis. While they’re not the hippest or hypest on the market today their flower is undeniably amongst the best anywhere or anytime. To my mind: small batches and individual attention are almost exclusively how this occurs, and this grow in particular is no exception.
This brings me to a paragraph or two of didactic self-righteous politicking, and I hope you’ll be patient enough to indulge me here. It’s important, goddamnit! Pipe down in the back, and gather ‘round close.
There is an increasingly narrow pyramid dominating the flow of Cannabis from producer to consumer these days. Fewer farms, bigger grows, fewer options, far less wisdom in the game. While production may be more standardized, fewer spills, less mess, more sterility: heirloom knowledge and heirloom culture are every bit as important as heirloom genetics and both of these entities are rapidly facing the wayside. This new system has by no means guaranteed preservation of quality; oftentimes much to the deleterious opposite is true and undeniable. Wine rarely does well when forced into boxes. The same holds true for Our Thing.
Oregon has an almost mystical reputation for its standout, incredible herb. Truth be told this has been built on the sore backs, arthritis-racked hands, and imaginative independent spirit of small farmers isolated in deep hills, focusing solely on what they love at the expense of quite a lot. No matter what a magazine or news story tells you: farming is not glamorous work. You don’t haul a truckload of llama shit up a dirt road, risking your axles and your sanity, because you’re gonna be famous. You do it because it fucking WORKS and you measure the success or failure of your year by the quality of the packs you’re stacking.
I encourage everyone reading this: we are already seeing overall quality slip in the rec marketplace. Next time you’re making a dispensary purchase don’t focus on dry and meaningless concepts like ads or stickers or number of IG followers. Try a different approach: see how many jars your nose and eyes pass by before they find something truly standout, something on par with the best weed you remember seeing, ever.
If you’re not finding that level of Magic consistently, the industry is stagnant. Shop around accordingly until you find dispensaries and growers who fit the bill. This is a brave new day and we possess the ability and the tech to do this thing better. Experiment with this approach and you’ll see it, clear as day. We can improve the marketplace as consumers and determine for ourselves what’s worth our time and our lungs.
Reach out to your growers! Look past the flashy marketing and foster communication directly. Get to know your Cannabis, intimately. It’s your right and your dollars. I guarantee you: the smaller the Pharm, the sweeter the flower. A joint should keep you lifted for a couple of hours. If the grower clearly gave that flower the same amount of time and individual attention you do, you’re well on your way to fostering a better day for yourself. And in the end: that’s why you’re reading this, yeah? At any rate, it’s why I’ve written it. Give it some thought.
...As I was saying, tonight’s subject is one of the smallest, most absurdly boutique grows I’ve ever encountered, a stalwart of the medical days where quality was everything and it was indeed profitable to engage in passion over world domination. That passion survives to this day and it’s a genuinely heartwarming thing to know this Level is out there still.
Tonight’s featured grower is Emerald Frost, out of Grants Pass in the sunny southern hills, nestled on the banks of the mighty Rogue River. This outfit is proprietored by my dear friends Mike and Jamie, two lovely fellow upstate New Yorkers that I’ve known in one form or another for … holy sweet fuck I’m old apparently, let’s just say quite a while. Yes, there’s favoritism and a dash of nepotistic sweetness to this article. Try their flower. You’ll see that fact’s only a garnish and by no means a central component. They’ve spent the last decade or so in Bend, Mike doing the medical thing there.
Ten years ago I was whiskey-chugging my way through the restaurant industry in the pleasant and snowy hamlet of Lake Placid, New York. I’m reasonably certain it was a good time. My boss went out to Bend for a visit, Mike having been in the restaurant game in our town also, and came back with wild tales of Cannabis that might as well have been fucking Godzilla stories. This was, of course, Mike’s weed he was referencing.
Fast forward: I was living in Portland again, and visited some other fellow upstaters who had relocated to Bend, and...they had some of his work. I had been curious for a long time.
I say this as delicately as possible: Gorilla Glue #4 has by and large taken a turn for the decidedly midsier in the last couple years; that initial rotten peanut butter gasoline offensiveness and will-stick-to-itself-and-not-fall-out-of-an-upside-down-jar quality of three or four seasons ago is all but gone to somaclonal drift and bad practices in many grows and on most dispensary shelves these days.
Not Mike’s. Know That.
Shit was off the goddamn chain. Still is, matter of fact. Although I couldn’t find any for this review, I can conclude this mini-story thusly: Mike’s shit does THAT thing that GG4 can do. There’s a rare and inimitable ability some growers have to speak to a cut; it can’t be taught and that’s what you’ll find in this guy’s work.
I talked to Mike over the phone recently. I’ll let him tell the rest of it.
Me: So, how long have you been growing rec for now? Sorry, I lose track of this shit.
Mike: One year. I was a medical grower for about ten years, and it was about time to buck up and go rec or get out of the game.
Me: Excellent, indeed. So, what attracts you to this particular genetic and makes you want to grow it out?
Mike: I like the end product of White Tahoe Cookies. Just a smell / taste / potency combo. From a grower’s side, it’s not the greatest (laughs), really slow and finicky. But finished product: yeah, it’s great. I really like the smell and taste of it a lot. It’s just a TERRIBLE grower, but the final product is really, REALLY good. I can’t run it with anything else because it grows so slowly. Veg for cookies strains always goes a little longer but I try for no more than 20 days and 65+ days of flower. The LEAST pest-resistant strain I’ve ever encountered, but we don’t really encounter that problem, so...
Me: Right on. Speaking to that, can you give an overview of your grow methods?
Mike: I use double-ended HPS and ceramic metal halide lighting, coco pots with a coco and perlite mix medium. We only really spray preventatively. Plant Therapy, realistically rosemary oil, nothing hardcore like cedar. It’s enough to keep things down and doesn’t get noticed in the finished product. And, also: never during flower.
Me: Gotcha. So, what do you find as newer challenges and what do you find is easier about growing in the rec market versus your time in medical?
Mike: Challenges are adapting your growing and processing and harvesting method to interact smoothly with METRC and tracking [editor’s note: METRC refers to the software used by the state to track all the Cannabis from the grow to the dispensary in the rec system. Its functionality is legendary; quite analogous to the concept of Donald Trump operating flawlessly in his role as a totally stable genius. If you need further confirmation of this just pop by your local shop and ask to see the intake manager and once you’ve got them in front of you casually mention “The Spinning Wheel Of Death” and watch their eyes carefully. You’ll almost be able to see the blank dry pits of despair where all the Gelfling Essence was sucked out of them over the course of thirteen hours one shift long ago]. One of the easier things is, how to say: it seems that if you have a quality product you have access to a very large market. All in all, rec market’s tough, no two ways around it. But if you’ve got good indoor, boy: these big outdoor producers, I mean is anybody selling outdoor flower that hasn’t been established for at least 10 years?
...wise words indeed. I’ll say it again: support your small pharmers. Please and thanks.
Whenever you’re in Medford I’d suggest doing so by stopping into American Cannabis Co.; they carry Emerald Frost regularly and are quite possibly the friendliest shop in the universe. Say howdy, eh?
Onto the smoking portion of tonight’s entertainment…
Not quite as dense and nodally as your classic GSC but certainly steeped in that tradition. Calyxes are luscious and defined, trim job accentuates the positive and leaves the overall structure intact. A rare thing these days, eh? How many times do you find something reeeeeal easy on the nose but ground down to these obscure lil' niblets that offer few clues as to the plant that produced them? Too often, I say. Side rant but an important one. I appreciate you tolerating.
Yep. Springy like a memory foam mattress, dry to the touch. Satisfying stem snap. All about it.
This is the dark and earthy side of gas, though well EQ-ed throughout. Behind the diesel, there's some rosehip, rye bread, menthol. This is how Vicks Vaporub would smell in a reality predicated on decency and virtue, where people looked out for each other and the Patriots get their asses just fuckin’ handed to them out there a lot more often.
The gas holds true. This is a subtle yet important distinction in the category, I feel: terpinolene especially I find to be exceedingly volatile amongst its peers, this holds nicely through the smoke. Malted chocolate, rich earth, maybe a bit of red Twizzlers. The darker and richer notes of a Cannabis palate I find to be the most fleeting and hardest to preserve under flame; when the whole spectrum survives unscathed it's a rare and appreciable thing.
Ok. You the reader deserve the caveat of full disclosure here. Just like when you're test driving cars and occasionally there's rain on the road: I turned 40 today and have been rectifying an ongoing midlife crisis and in a more immediate sense hand-to-hand combatting an ongoing panic attack, dodging text messages and society, in general, to stare at some remote wilderness and silently talk my way through the whole ordeal. My pulse, breathing, and general outlook have spent the day existing markedly outside their standard parameters.
That said: holy shit I haven't felt this calm or centered or rational since I can’t quite remember when. The nervous tic of aimlessly driving across the high desert of Washington in existential purgatory has faded to a long, deep, calmly upbeat reappraisal of the gentle rain descending on a cheap tent nestled in the endless mossy shire downstream from Mount St. Helens. I don’t know if I can say it much better than that. After some mechanical confusion and the discovery of a large spoon amongst my retinue, I even managed to procure some food. I’ve had some instant potatoes in my day but never felt the full gravitas of their being this fully or with such cheery appreciation. I’m breathing, taking stock, enshrined in a cathedral of douglas fir and bathing in the glow of a screen and a purpose and the muted tintinnabulation of keystrokes and raindrops. There could certainly be worse things.
Fast forward a week and to the last of this bud:
Palate still rings true, and we're off. A short stroll around the neighborhood… kiiiiiiiinda rethought the grander Odyssean journey I had initially envisioned... then back inside to get after some electric bass guitar.
Something I forgot to mention before: a lot of the physically sedative cultivars I encounter leave me a bit wobbly and disoriented; this buzz follows more of a fully functional pain relief sort of path. I'm taking a methodical, measured approach, working through scales in a manner probably far more rational and effective than the boisterous silliness I engage in generally. Fuckin' Al Gore of the low end over here...
Ok, that's it. I've officially gone too cheesy for public consumption. Forgive me if you can! Onward we coddiwomple. Signing off, thanks for reading, talk to you soon...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DICK FITTS - GUEST CONTRIBUTOR - BEARD BROS. MEDIA
Jesus, this fucker is still talking? I guess there’s still a bunch of those molly-spun 45-year-old Phish Phart idiot crusties out there that are just too spun at this point to ever shut their obnoxious “heady” mouths. Friggin dinosaurs like this should stick to terrible dancing at dad-rock cover bands in the back of sports bars rather than tell us all how to live our lives. I bet he always goes on and fucking every time he sees his budtender about why don’t they carry Skunk #1 and Neville’s Haze and how much better everything was from Sensi Seeds in 1995 than anything that’s around today. What a goddamn prick...I bet if you slush his PATREON with some “Just fucking stop it already” money he really just might. Might as well try, eh? (Seriously tho: Big Thx if you can)