When most people conjure up an image of cannabis, they picture plumes of smoke or inconspicuous brownies. But there’s a method of cannabis consumption gaining popularity that might surprise you: tea.
While it might sound odd at first, cannabis infused tea makes perfect sense. Humans routinely enjoy other botanicals – tea leaves, chamomile buds, pine needles, etc. – steeped in hot water. What’s so unusual about putting cannabis through the same treatment? More people are asking themselves that question, and with companies like OlliBrands curating specialty cannabis infused teas, interest in this method of consumption has skyrocketed recently.
In this article, let’s take a closer look at cannabis infused tea. Is it a contemporary invention, or has the application existed throughout history? What are the effects of cannabis tea, and can it have health benefits for users? What does cannabis tea taste like, and where is it legal? This article will answer all your burning questions – or rather boiling questions – about cannabis infused tea.
Cannabis use has a long and storied history that dates back at least 5,000 years. According to archaeological evidence, its hemp was used for rope, textiles, and food sources as early as the pre-Neolithic age. It was also used as a form of medicine since antiquity.
The history of cannabis tea is about as murky as the tea itself. Some sources suggest that cannabis was used as a tea as far back as 10,000 years ago in China. Others contend that the history traces back to ancient Egypt over 17,000 years ago when cannabis was boiled for medicinal purposes. And others place the point of origin in India, where cannabis tea (called bhang) is still widely enjoyed.
The only thing researchers know for sure is that cannabis tea isn’t a new thing. It was an important beverage in cultures worldwide far before it hit the shelves in North America.
What are the effects of cannabis infused tea?
To answer this question adequately, let’s first discuss the two main cannabinoids, the organic chemicals found in cannabis:
- THC: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most notable component of cannabis. It is the cannabinoid responsible for the infamous “high” you experience. THC is mainly fat-soluble (as opposed to water-soluble), which is why many edibles implement cannabis butter.
- CBD: cannabidiol, or CBD, is the other notable organic chemical in cannabis. It is non-psychotropic and is responsible for the relaxed, peaceful feeling of cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is water-soluble.
As you can see from the breakdown above, only CBD is fully water-soluble, meaning that a tea infusion includes the non-psychoactive element of cannabis with little or no high-producing THC. This is excellent news for people who want a relaxing beverage. Unless you process your cannabis tea through a fat first (like butter or oil), the drink will produce a mild, calming, anxiety-ameliorating effect.
The benefits of CBD are thoroughly researched and plentiful. Studies show that CBD is effective in reducing anxiety and stress. It is often used as pain relief for people with chronic illness and has even shown promise as a cancer cell growth-inhibitor. To match its benefits, it has also shown little in the way of adverse side effects: because it’s non-psychoactive, it is generally considered a safe and worry-free pain relief alternative.
Whether you are stressed at the end of a workday, having trouble sleeping, having difficulty managing minor pain, or just need a relaxing way to start your morning, cannabis infused tea is a tasty delivery system for beneficial CBD.
Speaking of taste, what can you expect from cannabis tea flavour-wise?
Welcome to the wide world of cannabis “terpenes.”
Terpenes are organic compounds found in various plants that give off strong, distinctive odours. Think of them as essential oils.
Many plants have characteristic terpene profiles. Rosemary primarily features a woody, pineyterpene that makes it a perfect accompaniment for mushrooms or red meat. Black pepper is chock full of the spicy “caryophyllene” that gives it its distinctive oomph. And cannabis encompasses a wide range of terpenes, like the following:
- Myrcene: Also found in hops, mangos, and lemongrass, this terpene is slightly sweet and funky.
- Limonene: As its name suggests, this terpene can be found in lemons, as well as other citrus fruits. If you’ve ever scraped the rind of a lime or orange, you can call to mind to this bright aroma.
- Pinene: Found in pine needles and the rosemary mentioned above, this terpene is sharp and woodsy, evocative of walks through the forest.
- Linalool: This terpene is often used in shampoos and other soaps for its sweet, floral smell. In the wild, you can find linalool in lavender and rosewood.
Choosing exactly which terpenes fit which tea profiles best is the job of a master curator. Quality cannabis infused tea makers will put a lot of thought into which strains they choose according to which terpenes they want to feature. At its best, cannabis tea isn’t just a relaxing experience; it’s also a balanced, flavourful drink.
Depending on where you are in the world, cannabis infused tea may or may not be legal yet. Because of its low levels of the psychoactive THC, it is legal in some countries where cannabis is otherwise illegal. If you’re unsure, check your local laws.
In Canada, where cannabis was legalized in 2018, you still have to wait for the best cannabis infused teas to hit the market, but the wait shouldn’t be long.
Cannabis tea isn’t new. Cultures around the world have reaped the calming benefits of this CBD-forward beverage for millennia. It can help with stress, pain, and perhaps even cancer. Quality makers of cannabis infused tea go to great lengths to pair different terpene profiles with various other botanical blends to create pleasing flavour combinations. If you want to try cannabis tea, but are unsure of its legality in your country, do your research.
Cannabis tea is surging in popularity, and hopefully, this article has answered some of the questions you had surrounding this oft-misunderstood drink!