By Joe Sokol
I looked over at a man and a cashier in a head shop. They were bagging up this material that looked like green dirt. I eventually meandered on over to the transaction inside the head shop. As I was rudely hovering around eavesdropping on the two people who were in the middle of a purchase, I was very interested staring at a wad of money in the buyers hand. The head shop cashier was bagging up this green dirt.
Eventually I made my way over to the cashier and he took advantage of my interest. After the buyer had left, he called me over. He said, "do you know what kratom is?" I immediately responded with, "what is that? Is that some sort of spice." The employee giggled an said, "No. Just google kratom, then come back and buy some." I kind of shrugged it off as I walked out of the store. I sat on a bench and did just what he asked of me. I googled kratom.
What I found in those digital footprints, was amazing. I couldn't believe that my whole life I would let this information be available, and never know about something like kratom. That day searching, I saw many posts, websites, and articles on this leaf. In my quick research looking into the history of this plant, I found it littered with a strain we call "Maeng Da." Every where I looked I saw the words 'Maeng Da.' Of course, I had no idea what 'Maeng Da' was that day. But, with the internet telling tales of this amazing strain, I rushed back into the head shop to go buy some Maeng Da.
The cashier was smiling as I walked in. He immediately said the magic words, 'Maeng Da'. He started off by pointing at some boxes that carried the green dirt, and said "This is White Maeng da, this is Green Maeng Da, this is Red Maeng da, along with Red Borneo, and Red Bali." He then began to summarize the popularity of the 5 strains he carried. With the 'Maeng Das' being the most popular. I immediately asked for the one he said was the most popular. Red Maeng Da.
I finished paying 14 dollars for the 14 grams of kratom. I hustled outside and took half that kratom out of the bag, and did what you do with it. My journey was on. Kratom hasn't left me since. But, 'Maeng Da' has lost its luster for me. I'll tell you why.
Becoming a vendor was the funnest most informative journey a kratom enthusiast could take. I wasn't your normal buyer though. I did so much research. Before I became a vendor I was actually employed by a very successful kratom company. Again Maeng Da was by far the most popular strain. I was very successful selling kratom for that company, but, I ended my employment for the company, only 20 days after it started. I sold $11,500 in kratom for that company and got permission from my future wife to start my own company.
This is where the research really got interesting. I wanted to know what all the strains were, what the veins were, and the most intriguing thing I wanted to know was, what the hell was Maeng Da?
I ended up befriending about 15 or so Indonesian vendors. I utilized a bunch of applications that translate English to Indonesian and vice versa. I became very good friends with 4 vendors. Those 4 vendors, to this day speak to regularly.
In my journey buying kratom, I have tested out about 15 Indonesian vendors kratom. Every single vendor carried this famous "strain" everyone calls Maeng Da. I didn't really know how to break this anomaly down. From what I understood, strains were the names of specific regions where they came from. I eventually found out, there is even strains named after specific kratom species, such as, "Elephant, Horned, etc." I also ran into some strains named after the kratom farmers wives. A popular wife named kratom is "Zareena." I just couldnt understand, or fathom what made what name and how they differentiate each strain.
With common sense on my side, I started digging. I asked every single vendor/farmer this question: "What is Maeng Da?" All of them had the same answer. They all put it in a different way. But the every single person connected to kratom, that was from Indonesia, said the same thing.
The answer I got was that Maeng Da is just the strongest strain. Not one vendor could give a good reason why they marketed a strain Maeng Da. When I ordered samples from vendors I would always get a "Maeng Da". Sometimes I even got a regions title before Maeng Da. Such as "Jong Kong Maeng Da", or "Sulawesi Maeng Da'
I couldn't just take the words of someone trying to sell me kratom. So I eventually took to the internet armed with motivation and an endless journey to find out what the hell this mysterious 'Maeng Da' was.
I ran into articles claiming it was a farm raised plant, who had grafted the plant onto another plant from Thailand and grew a hybrid type of tree. I had a hard time believing that Maeng Da was a "Franken-Tree". The article is one of the most popular articles out there decribing the origin of Maeng Da. And, it has proved to be bulls@#@. There was one common thing in my hours of research looking for this plants origin. Inconsistency. Not one article made any sense to me. How could it be? How could the strains be so confusing. I mean if strains were named after regions, than why were some strains named after the kind of kratom leaf it was, like "Horned or King."
I began really pressing the Indonesian vendors I know. Now, I wanted to know, just how they came up with every strain name they had. Well, your not gonna like what they told me. Before I go any farther. I want to let you know why I chose my vendor. My vendor is a huge kratom hustler. He travels all over South Asia collecting certain harvests, and buys his stuff from other farmers and kratom hunters. He spends about $5 a kilo over in Indonesia and he sells over 5 tons a week worldwide. He tells me exactly what I'm getting and where it came from.
Now, back to the definition of strains.
Most Indonesian salesman, don't really hold integrity that high. Most salesman, cut the throats of there brethren, and will say anything to make the sale. The most popular phrase when asking about a specific strain is, "I can make any strain." I would pass that statement off as english to indonesian translation error for a couple months. But, farther into this journey I found out they were dead ass serious.
I just want to ask you a serious question. Do you really know what makes a strain name? Do you really know the different species of kratom? Well, I do. It's simple.
The strain name comes from a region. Period. That's it. Nothing else can make a strain a name. The confusing thing is the actual leaf itself is commonly thrown into the mix. Like "Elephant" and so on. There are only 4 species of kratom that I am aware of. "Elephant, King, Horned, and Regular." So, many times I have gotten a "Jong Kong Elephant, or a Papua Horned". It's time I let the cat out of the bag.
If you have a vendor who does not network with any other vendors and they only live in one region, lets say, Papua New Guinea, he can only grow "Papua" kratom. Now you might have 4 different types of leafs from him. Four different species. And, those species have 3 different veins. So, at most, a farmer who does not network with other farmers can only have 12 distinct, original strains. There is now way for a farmer to grow, "Bali" in the Sulawesi islands. If they grow a "Horned" leaf that strain should be named "Horned Bali".
You will not see these names usually. You will never find a vendor only carrying 12 strains. Well, most experienced vendors in Indonesia has bypassed educating naive american buyers, and just attempt to sell them the damn leaf, no matter the name. I'm about to tell you something very sad. It pains me to tell you this because if you don't believe me, I won't say your silly, but I will say that you have no logical way to know your kratom strains are. You are at the mercy of Indonesian sellers that are in a huge competition with one another to grab the sales of American vendors. Do you honestly think that these Indonesian vendors hold integrity as a number one priority, or something far more meaningful, like money.
If you told a vendor that you would only buy Bali, Malaysian and Thai kratoms. It's funny. Most vendors magically have all those strains. Can you please explain to me, since there is only 4 different kinds of actual leafs, how in the hell you can have a Maeng Da kratom. Where in the hell did you ever see, read, or hear about a strain called Maeng Da? Oh yeah, the Indonesian farmers/vendors said it was Maeng Da. Well, no shit. Every single f@##ing vendor has a Maeng Da. Do you know ever think how the heck this is possible. Let me tell you again.
The only difference between a strong Bali and a Maeng Da is the damn title. If you wanted a Bali strain from the farmer in Sampit, Indonesia, how the hell did you magically just get a kratom from Bali? Do you seriously think that these farmers label their product with honesty? Now, let me mention again, my vendor is a kratom freak, and even sends me pictures when he is traveling to go pick up different harvests. He is somewhat honest. I definitely tell him to send me his top 25 strains every time I order. I don't specifically ask for strains. Half my strains are always "Maeng Da". He keeps the title to it. If he was sold a "Malaysian Maeng Da" then he sells it to me with the confusing title "Malaysian Maeng Da"
The word "Maeng Da" is a actually a derogatory name. It means, "Pimp Grade" in Thailand. It is not a classy name. Its equivalent in America would be, "Fine Ass Hoe". What it really means, is "Premium." And what premium usually indicates is, middle of the tree leaves, that are large, from an older tree. They are double milled and then double filtered. Most premiums should be dried inside a room with proper ventilation. That is also called "Super." So if someone calls their strain a "Super Malay" That means you are getting premium leaf. Thats it. The only thing Maeng Da means is premium. All my leafs are "Super" so I don't waste the font on it.
I've asked plenty of farmers/vendors about this mysterious "Maeng Da." The only way the differentiate strains, is region, strength, and sometimes species. The region is what gives the leaf its characteristics.
For example, Hulu Kapuas, is pretty new to the kratom game. They have had most of the farmers swith the perferred crop from Rubber and Palm Oil to Kratom. Why does the region matter? Well, for instance. A palm oil crop will ravish the earth. After 20 years of harvesting Palm Oil at maximum harvest the earth left behind is severely damaged. So, if you have a plantation kratom plant that had palm oil production in that area before kratom, well, that kratom will be a little different then say a wild kratom plant that hasn't had the soil hurt by a very damaging crop such as Palm Oil. I'm not saying that all farm grown kratom from Hulu Kapuas is bad. As a matter of fact, I love one specific farm in Hulu. And, wild Hulu Kapuas is one of my favorite green and white veins out there. But, if you happen to land some farm raised Hulu Kapuas that has housed a Palm Oil crop before the kratom was planted, chances are it isn't as good as a farm that didn't have damage done to the earth by the previous harvests. There is some great Hulu out there, and Im not saying that all farm raised kratom from Hulu is bad. I'm simple making a point that the region, weather, soil, species, age of the plant and climate all changes the 25+ alkaloids in the plant.
Each of those alkaloids are interdependant on each other. And there is no magic number that makes Maeng Da. As a matter of fact, kratoms alkaloids are so symbiotic that no one can figure out what makes it work. There are various ways to test Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymytragynine in labs and you have some vendors claiming to have very strong numbers from lab tests. but, even that doesn't mean s#$%.
Think of Maeng Da being a song, and the alkaloids are the symphony. There are many different ways to play that song. Science really has no clue why each song sounds the way it sounds. Meaning that, science has no clue how a different set of alkaloids can create one feeling in someone versus another in someone else. Any vendor telling you that they have the only real Maeng Da is a dirt bag liar, or just uneducated. There is many ways to have Maeng Da.
As a matter of fact, most Maeng Da's are just surface tested out by the farmers before being titled Maeng Da. I've heard some farmers can just smell, look, and taste the "Maeng Da strength." There is no scientific method that titles your strains. The only thing that makes a strain, a strain is the damn region. Or, if we could organize our species, and educate the Indonesian farmers, we might be able to even know what kind of leaf it actually is, like horned, king, elephant, or regular. That won't happen because Americans are taught to just accept knowledge as its given and run with it. The reason these lies have spread so vast, is because most vendors don't give a sh#@ what they are selling you. As a matter of fact, most don't test for contaminants. So they could care less where it came from. They are living in the age old saying, "ignorance is bliss." They ask for one strain and most of the farmers give it to them, based of mixing one of the 12 strains they could possibly have.
Very few vendors/farmers, do what mine does. Actually if your vendor buys from a farmer, I'm sorry. That farmer cannot give you different regions kratom unless he is trading or buying it. It's not logically possible.
Sadly, most Indonesian vendors, make your strains and pass it off to you as anything that your vendor asked to buy. Very few vendors will even care enough to question their source because they are scared to get bad product, or know the truth. Let me say this one more time.
There is no way you can grow a Bali in Sulawesi, or vice versa. There are only different species and then they have different veins. The strain is based on the region. If you know where it was grown, then you know the true strain name.
I challenge you to browse the internet and find the true origin of Maeng Da. When I grew up we used to be taken on trips into the orange grove to hunt a ficticious bird called "Snipe." It's sad to say but there was no Snipe. And it's even sadder to say this: There is no Maeng Da.
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