What is a green dragon tincture?
Green dragon tincture, or golden dragon tincture, is a term referring to cannabis tinctures in general. Cannabis tinctures are liquid cannabis products made with high-proof alcohol. Tincture making is one of the most ancient cannabis processes still used today, and it's particularly popular with medical cannabis users. Tinctures are made by soaking plant materials in alcohol to dissolve the cannabinoids and terpenes and infuse them in the liquid.
Typically, cannabis tinctures are made with alcohol between 50-to-120 proof, or 25-to-60% alcohol content. The higher the proof, the better, as the higher alcohol content both more effectively dissolves the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material and has a higher shelf life, up to 10 years. Other solvents such as vinegar or glycerin also can be used, but they're typically less effective at removing the cannabinoids from cannabis plant matter.
While green dragon can refer generally to any type of cannabis tincture, many online sources point to Master Wu's Green Dragon recipe — a specific tincture-making process that creates a final product in significantly less time than other methods. Many tincture recipes require weeks for the alcohol to extract cannabinoids from plant matter — Master Wu's Green Dragon takes 20 minutes total.
Read on to learn how to make both traditional and Master Wu's Green Dragon tincture.
What you need
To make your own green dragon tincture, assemble the following tools and ingredients:
- ⅛ ounce of cannabis flower.
- 2 ounces of high-proof alcohol, 50-to-120 proof preferred.
- An oven.
- A baking pan.
- A saucepan (Master Wu method).
- Aluminum foil.
- A Mason jar.
How to make green dragon tincture
To begin, chop your cannabis flower into very fine pieces - the smaller the better, as it makes for faster extraction. A coffee grinder usually works well to achieve this. Place the cannabis on a shallow baking pan covered with a sheet of aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes — this decarboxylates the cannabis and turns the THCA into the active THC.
Remove the cannabis from the oven and place both cannabis and alcohol inside the Mason jar.
The next steps are a matter of preference: the so-called “traditional method” and Master Wu's 20-minute method.
Seal the alcohol and cannabis mixture tightly and place it in a cool, dark place. Allow the mixture to sit for a few weeks, shaking once per day. After about a month, filter the plant matter using a coffee filter and strain the liquid into a storage container of your choice. You now should have one ounce of dark, brownish-green tincture that's ready to use.
Master Wu's method:
Pour the alcohol into the jar and place the lid on it. Lower the jar into a pot of shallow hot water. The water should just come part way up the side of the jar. Allow the water to simmer for 20 minutes. Use a thermometer to make sure the heat level stays at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
After 20 minutes, remove the jar from the water bath and allow it to cool. Strain the cannabis mixture to remove the excess plant material and pour the tincture into a storage container of your choice, typically a dropper bottle. You now have one ounce of dark, brownish-green tincture that's ready to use. A standard eyedropper transfers about 1 ml of liquid — with 29 ml per ounce, you should have about 30 ml of green dragon tincture. Tinctures can be taken sublingually, orally, or dropped into edibles of all types.
Why do people like green dragon tinctures?
Many people prefer green dragon tinctures over other cannabis consumption methods for a variety of reasons from effectiveness to personal preference. For some, tinctures are very simple to consume and require little else in the way of effort besides filling an eyedropper with liquid.
Others appreciate green dragon tinctures' speedy nature, as effects typically begin in around 15 minutes and last for up to five hours — much faster than an edible. Because the THC is absorbed directly into your bloodstream from tissue under your tongue (as opposed to being processed by the liver and transformed into the much more potent 11-hydroxy-THC), tinctures may have fewer of the unpleasant side-effects of consuming edibles. Green dragon tinctures also are a low-calorie option compared to edibles like cookies, pastries, and other sweet treats.
Compared to smoking cannabis, using a green dragon tincture also avoids the risk of inhaling toxins associated with combusting plant matter. It's also much more discreet than smoking, as tinctures leave no odor and require zero cleanup.
Why do people hate green dragon tinctures?
While many appreciate their speedy effects and discretion, green dragon tinctures aren't for every cannabis consumer. It's sometimes uncomfortable to place any liquid under your tongue and try to avoid swallowing — some users do, and thus their bodies process the tincture through the liver, resulting in much longer and more potent effects.
Dosing also presents a challenge with green dragon tinctures. Homemade recipes can be difficult to measure, as potency varies based on the THC in the cannabis used, alcohol proof, variability in the cooking process, and how each person's body reacts to the cannabis tincture. When self-dosing, common best practice is to start slow with 1 ml at a time and wait to see how your body reacts. Professionally made tinctures created by licensed cannabis businesses help to mitigate this problem.
Finally, making green dragon can be dangerous in and of itself, which is why many people follow the traditional method, which doesn't call for heating the mixture. Alcohol is flammable and heating it can be risky. Use a thermometer to ensure it stays below the boiling point and DO NOT leave your green dragon mixture unattended while it's cooking.