Everyone always want you to boil your hops in plain water in order to get a sense for what they taste and smell like, but there's a problem with that - you never experience your hops in just plain water. Malt imbues the wort with a number of different chemical processes that can affect the flavor and aroma contributions from a hop variety.
Here's my simple way of checking out what our hops are going to do. Now I make no bones about this - this won't quite be the same, but.. it's better than the old fashioned way of doing it.
Botanical name: Humulus lupulus (rough translation: "the wolf of the soil," due to the tendency of the roots to spread or range laterally)
Plant family: Cannabinaceae; just a few species exist in the genus Humulus, of which H. lupulus is the only one of value to brewing.