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What is Top-Shelf Hemp Flower?

You’ve read it before – top-shelf hemp flower. Sounds pretty alluring, no doubt. But what many buyers don’t truly realize is that top-shelf is an actual designation that tells you about the quality of a certain strain.

Unfortunately, most retailers throw around that term too loosely these days, causing some confusion among buyers who are in search of the best hemp their money can buy. The fact is that ‘top-shelf’ is a measurement of quality, and not all hemp strains will meet the parameters necessary to qualify as top-shelf.

So, what exactly does it mean when a particular hemp flower is top-shelf? Here’s everything you need to know.

top shelf hemp flower buds


The Criteria for Measuring Hemp Quality

There are certain aspects that you can look into to measure the quality of a specific hemp product you’re interested in. By figuring out where its qualities stand in reference to these criteria, you can determine whether or not it’s right on the money or a total waste of cash.


You can tell a lot about hemp based on the extent of the effects that it brings. Hard-hitting effects that you can feel after just a toke or two indicate that your bud contains higher levels of the cannabinoids. Lower quality hemp won’t have the same complex, colorful CBD profile as a top-shelf sample. So, anything that just doesn’t feel like it produces the prominent effects you’re looking for might not actually be top-shelf.

Flavor and Aroma

Premium quality hemp flower should demonstrate intricate, multi-dimensional taste and fragrance that begs you to stick your nose into the jar. Top-shelf strains are often particularly strong in their scent, delivering powerful wafting fragrance that can easily fill up your space after cracking open the container. Flavor-wise, a top-shelf strain should demonstrate pretty much the same taste as its aroma, with some room for minor changes like smokiness and bitterness which are typical when smoking hemp.

Feel and Aesthetic

Top-shelf hemp should look and feel the part, letting you pick it out of a line-up with nothing more than a glance. Colorful, dynamic, saturated nugs showcase the complexity of its trichome and terpene profile, which ultimately tells you the quality of the hemp overall. In essence, the brighter and more attractive a specific hemp flower, the better its quality should be. In terms of feel, top-shelf hemp should be sticky, leaving a mild layer of tacky trichomes on your fingers.

Cannabinoid Content

Of course, there’s no way you can go wrong when you take the time to read into the lab results. Any retailer that promises excellent hemp flower should be able to provide a lab test result with each strain, providing buyers an idea of the cannabinoid profile of their products. The higher the CBD, the better the hemp should be all together. Presently, any hemp that meets or exceeds the 20% CBD mark falls within the top-shelf category, and should definitely warrant a much higher cost.

understanding hemp flower quality ratings


What Makes Hemp Flower ‘Top-Shelf?’

What exactly produces top-shelf hemp? As you might have expected, it’s not simply an accident that some sellers are able to sell hemp flower that’s a higher quality than others. The truth is that producing top-shelf hemp takes more effort and costs more which is also why it tends to come at a steeper price than typical, lower quality hemp.

To produce top-shelf hemp, growers are careful to ensure optimal conditions throughout the growing process. That means the selection of top-quality seeds from top-shelf strains, the use of premium, high-quality fertilizers, careful calibration of heat and humidity, and of course, the perfect timing for harvest, drying, and curing.

Most of the time, top-shelf hemp is grown in controlled conditions, away from the potential dangers of contaminants, mold, and mildew. That means that most of the top-shelf choices you’ll find will often either be grown indoors or in greenhouses where their cultivators can fine-tune conditions to produce the best hemp.


How to Tell If You’re Buying Top-Shelf Hemp Flower

Now that you know what top-shelf really is, you’re probably interested in copping a bag to experience the true-blue effects of premium grade hemp. But be careful – some unscrupulous hemp vendors will tag a batch as ‘top-shelf’ even if it isn’t. sometimes, the sellers themselves don’t know what top-shelf means, thinking it’s just a way to describe good hemp. But there are some that will deliberately use the term to throw off unsuspecting buyers.

So how can you be sure you’re getting the real deal? Here are some markers.

locating the best top shelf hemp flower for sale


It Should Be Top Shelf – Literally

It’s an unspoken rule in the world of hemp dispensaries that top-shelf hemp should be placed, well, at the top. That’s just how it works. Some say that the system started way back, when top-shelf hemp was often considered ‘too expensive’, leading to higher sales with lower cost choices. So, to ease the process of retrieving high selling products, sellers would arrange their shelves so that the more affordable products that always got picked would be easily within reach.

These days, the top shelf seat is a designation of quality. That said, you might want to ask to see the products at the topmost shelf if you want to dip your hands into premium quality hemp that won’t disappoint.


It Should Look the Part

One of the easiest ways to tell if you’ve got your hands-on premium top-shelf hemp is by checking its appearances. Good quality hemp should look complex, demonstrating a blend of colors and textures that betray its complicated chemical profile. The more intricate it looks, the more flavorful and potent it should be.

At a glance, you should see a coating of powdery white trichomes glazing the exterior, with yellow, orange, or red hairs interspersed between the leaves. The nugs themselves should showcase a blend of green colors, backed by purples, blues, and other hues from the spectrum. If you look at a nug and it looks dull, dry, brown, and monochromatic, beware. It’s likely one of those bad Reggie weed samples that no one wants to mess with.

It Shouldn’t Have a Lot of Seeds and Stems

Seeds and stems dampen the experience, lending a bitter flavor that doesn’t only impact the taste but also the effects of the hemp flower you’re using. Take some time to look into the jar at your local dispensary and check for seeds and stems. If there’s an overwhelming amount of either, then you might want to steer clear.

It Should Come with the Paperwork

If a top-shelf strain really is top-shelf, then it should have the paperwork to prove it. Those who produce top-shelf hemp are often proud of their product, so they’re more willing to go the extra mile to back up their prized growth. Most top-shelf hemp flower choices should come with the appropriate paperwork, telling you more about the strain’s chemical composition and its cannabinoid profile.


top shelf hemp vs other grades or flower


Can’t Go Wrong with Top-Shelf

The next time you walk into a dispensary or visit your favorite online hemp retailer, don’t be fooled. ‘Top-shelf’ isn’t just a fancy way to say good hemp – it’s an actual ranking that measures the quality of a sample, ensuring that you get the best quality whenever you make a purchase. Get informed and make better choices the next time you shell out to replenish your stash and discover the benefits of truly premium hemp that works hard to earn its spot at the top of the shelf.

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