Vape pens are at the top of the list for convenience and discretion, but they often disappoint for a number of other reasons: weird fillers, excessive artificial flavoring, mediocre taste and lack of potency, to name a few. And after 2019’s vaping illness outbreak, consumers are wise to be cautious about what they’re inhaling.
One of the best ways to ensure a safe and enjoyable vaping experience is to stick with a trusted, vetted brand — one that is transparent and tests the hell out of everything they sell. Oregon-based Select manages to do all that while producing a great-tasting, highly effective cannabis oil.
Select bills their new Elite Live oils as having “the ease of oil, the feeling of flower,” and they deliver on that promise. Too often, concentrate and edible makers try to mask the taste and smell of cannabis in their products, which is not only ineffective, but also manages to make the taste worse (cue over-fragranced vape pens that smell like Pine-Sol and Febreze).
Select oils actually taste like cannabis, which is refreshing. The latest trend is blending the flavor and scent of cannabis into the mix, and in these formulations, the pine, citrus or pepper elements are present without overpowering the green flavor. The result is a fresh, natural-tasting vapor with no chemical undertones.
Another distinguishing feature of Select’s oil cartridges is the heating element. Select won early fame for their innovative cartridge design, which includes a ceramic core and organic cotton wick. Not only can you taste the difference in the vapor, but fans say it’s a safer choice than typical heating elements like metal or steel.
Select oils are infused with freshly harvested terpenes instead of cured plant matter, which explains the “live” part of the Elite Live carts. Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds that give plants their distinctive scent. Many terpenes have their own therapeutic value: Pinene is considered anti-inflammatory; linalool and limonene have been shown to have relaxing properties; others, such as caryophyllene and cineole, display neuroprotective qualities. Terpenes are now thought to contribute significantly to the characteristics and quality of a cannabis high.
I sampled four different Select Elite Live oils: Gelato, Lemon Tree, Mandarin Cookies, and Forbidden Fruit. For me, the varying terpene content of these extracts gave each oil a very distinct flavor and effect.
Derived from an indica strain, this oil did what indicas are supposed to — relax the hell out of you. It was like a weighted blanket for my brain that left me feeling super relaxed and grounded (luckily, I tried it in the evening). The flavor was smooth, earthy and peppery. The effects were ideal for deep-body tranquility, solo contemplation and winding down for the night. I wouldn’t recommend this oil for a busy social situation, as I didn’t feel very chatty. (I also couldn’t track anything complex: I tried to watch “Last Week Tonight” and couldn’t follow John Oliver’s arguments, but switched to “The Golden Girls” and was immediately on the level.) So don’t take your MCATs or go on a first date while using this oil. But if you suffer from insomnia or nighttime anxiety, this is the one I would recommend.
2. Lemon Tree
Good for daytime activities, this sativa hybrid oil felt both lightly energizing and head clearing, with a fresh, clean taste and aromas of lemon and pine. It offers a more mellow sensation than the other three. In fact, this is a great ideal starter oil for folks who are newer to cannabis or just want to be slightly high.
But more avid cannabis consumers also enjoy a mellower high sometimes – you don’t always need the cannabis equivalent of four shots of espresso. Sometimes you just want an herbal tea so you can perk up, be a little more present and create a calm, balanced vibe. That’s what Lemon Tree did for me. I recommend this oil for cleaning, organizing, practicing yoga or doing outdoor activities – especially ones where you’ll need some ability to focus.
3. Mandarin Cookies
This hybrid formulation had the citrusy smell and flavor of Lemon Tree, but a much stronger, earthier flavor along with a hint of sweetness. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion from the name, but Mandarin Cookies felt like a dessert oil — a perfect treat on a vacation or after a sumptuous brunch. I tried the Mandarin Cookies while at the beach, and swimming in the ocean never felt better. I was also coping with some intense sinus pain, which this oil greatly reduced. I was high, but totally alert, upbeat and able to carry on a conversation. It’s not always easy to find good moods in 2020, but this oil helped me get there.
4. Forbidden Fruit
An indica-hybrid, this formulation is truly one of the most delicious, full-flavored extracts I’ve ever tasted, with fruity notes of citrus, berries and spicy pine. (If you’ve ever tried chili mango, it’s a similarly delectable combination of sweet and spicy.) It provided a dreamy, magical high, plus relief from nagging disc pain in my neck. The feeling it provided was uplifting, sensory and euphoric. I only wish I knew more about the specific terpene combination of this product, which I’ve already dubbed “the joyful oil.”
I took a (distanced) dance class after imbibing, and every single song sounded like gold. Plus, I was bursting with new ideas for a creative project. I recommend it for both socializing or solo time, as well as brainstorming, creativity, art-making and movement. Going forward, Forbidden Fruit will be a staple of my cannabis cupboard.
All four of the oils sampled here are THC-rich (between 78 and 82 percent THC) with just trace amounts of CBD. If you adore THC as I do, that’s a huge positive. Consumers with lower tolerance may want to start with just a small draw, and keep in mind that “concentrate” means the effects of the plant are concentrated.