Tidal Wave[i][ii] is a strain of Psilocybe cubensis—a hybrid of two of the most potent strains around, B+ and Penis Envy. Not surprisingly, then. Tidal Wave has a reputation for extreme potency, but the picture is more complicated. The short version is that the strain is unusually variable.
Most cube strains are genetically consistent, that’s kind of what “strain” means. The idea is if you grow certain spores, you’ll get mushrooms that closely resemble other mushrooms of the same strain in appearance, growth habits, and potency. But Tidal Wave is an exception. It’s not genetically stabilized. Weird mutations, including blobs, are common, and a single tub of Tidal Wave can yield mushrooms of multiple shapes and sizes. It’s as though where other strains have rules to follow, Tidal Wave only has habits.
The best way to identify Tidal Wave is to ask the grower “is this Tidal Wave?” These mushrooms can look like almost anything. However, they are generally well-pigmented—not albino or leucistic—with caps that have wavy edges at maturity. The caps are often a little narrow, reflecting the Penis Envy heritage, but not to the same extreme. Bluing is common. The name, Tidal Wave, is largely a reference to the wavy cap edge, not the strain’s effects on users.
Because Tidal Wave can look like anything, almost anything can be its look-alike, including most cube strains, a good many other psychoactive species, and, to a lesser degree, almost any little brown mushroom in the world. And since some little brown mushrooms can kill humans who eat them, mistakes in identification can be serious. Except that Tidal Wave isn’t a wild strain, so nobody is going out foraging in the woods for them anyway.
The best method of identification is, again, to ask the grower.
Tidal Wave is reputed to bring euphoria, pleasure, and intense hallucinations while leaving the mind clear, however there are so many factors besides a mushroom’s biochemistry that can direct the course of a trip—the user’s biochemistry, mindset, circumstance, and experience level and, of course, the dose—that it’s hard to know whether the choice of strain has any influence at all.
What we can say is that the effects of Tidal Wave are largely those of psilocybin: alterations in mood, in cognition, and in perception. Alterations in mood usually mean euphoria and a feeling of connectedness, though the substance does seem able to amplify whatever mood the user brings to the situation, so less-pleasant results are possible, too. Alterations in cognition can mean insights of great personal and spiritual value, but generally only if the user does the work to prepare for them, learn from them, and integrate them. Psilocybin is not an easy way to spiritual enlightenment for the lazy, and people who treat it as such tend not to get anything better than entertained. Changes in perception means hallucination, but these may not be present in low doses, and only begin to seriously compete with reality at very high doses. To refer to psilocybin as a hallucinogen, as though giving visions were the only, or most important thing that it does, is misleading at best.
Psilocybin also has other, less enjoyable effects. We’ll cover them under “Side-Effects,” but it’s worth noting that the mushrooms don’t differentiate between primary and secondary effects. It’s just that some of the things they do are things some people like, while others are not. If someone wants only mood elevation and insight and not distracting or potentially scary hallucinations (some people find hallucinations inherently frightening), then the visions would be a side-effect that could be mitigated by controlling dose size.
Potency and Dosage
Tidal Wave has a reputation for extreme potency because of the several samples tested, one had the highest total tryptamine level of any cube ever measured—close to four times the average for the species. However, the average of the tested samples is much lower, only slightly over the average for cubes as a whole. And, logically, for the average to be so much lower than the highest measured sample, there must be some samples that are below below the average as well. It seems fair to say that Tidal Wave is a highly variable strain in terms of its potency as well as its appearance, and that while it is often more potent than average for a cube, sometimes much more potent, it can sometimes be weaker than average, too.
And that can make dosing tricky. The single greatest risk factor for having a bad, or even dangerous experience is a large dose, especially an unexpectedly large dose. It’s always important to take the minimum necessary to get the experience you want, and no more. So how do you achieve the right dose size when there is a chance—but only a chance—that the mushroom you’re holding might be one of the most powerful in the world?
The way to do it involves drying and mixing multiple mushrooms, enough for many trips. Once you have a powder made from a whole batch of mushrooms mixed together, you can use cautious trial-and-error to establish the potency, and thus the dose sizes, of the entire batch.
While Tidal Wave isn’t necessarily recommended for beginners, it’s fine for growers with only a little experience. Cultivation time and fruiting time are both short, and the strain is relatively resistant to contamination. Almost any cultivation method will work, PF Tek, shoebox, whatever. There are no special substrate requirements, as all the mixes normally used for cubes will work, from various grain mixes to large animal dung.
Toxicity, Safety, & Side Effects
Technically speaking, Psilocybe cubensis (of any strain) is a poisonous mushroom, it just has a poison whose most common effects many people enjoy. If this sounds like an odd statement, imagine somebody tripping who did not intend to, and perhaps did not know what a psilocybin trip is—the experience would be terrifying, possibly dangerous (what if the person were driving when it started?), and would impair the person’s ability to take care of daily business for some hours. Anyone who does eat a Tidal Wave mushroom, or any other psychoactive mushroom, by accident, including pets or children, must be treated for mushroom poisoning.
That being said, psilocybin is a relatively safe way to get altered, since if you do want to hallucinate and think odd thoughts for a few hours, most of the other things that will happen to you will likely be pretty mild; you may yawn a lot, and may feel a bit nauseated. Your sense of balance may go a bit off. Maybe stay seated for safety? It’s less likely, but you could also vomit or develop debilitating anxiety—the latter is by no means mild, but there are ways to lessen the risk of that anxiety and to deal with it if it happens. But more serious problems, though very rare, can occur, including convulsions. There have even been fatalities, though very few.
Finally, the most dangerous thing about psilocybin is that is illegal in most jurisdictions, and penalties can be severe. Know the law in your area, and do not risk prison.
[i] Brand, D. S. (2023). Tidal Wave Mushrooms Are Among the Most Potent Ever Tested: But Are they Always a Total Knockout? Double Blind
[ii] Lubiano, K. (2023), Tidal Wave: Psilocybin Cup Winner 2021 for Highest Potency. Tripsitter