The Rise of Cannabis Tea
Cannabis is currently enjoying its time in the spotlight, and this positive interest has many people wondering how they can incorporate this miracle plant into their healthy lifestyle without dealing with its “less savory” characteristics. Marijuana-infused products bridge the gap for individuals who want to try weed but have been hesitant. Unlike the sugary sweets that make up much of the edibles market, however, cannabis tea is a soothing and effective consumption method gaining ground for a host of reasons.
There’s no dressing it up – cannabis tea is what it sounds like (cannabis leaves steeped with water and drank as a hot beverage), and it has been brewed for centuries by folks around the world, in countries like China, India, Egypt, and the Caribbean. When consumed in this way, you experience a full-body high that, though slightly delayed, brings calm and relief from pain and stress without exposing your lungs to harmful chemicals and carcinogens.
Boiling Down the Facts of Cannabis Tea
Way back when, indigenous folks somehow figured out that boiling the leaves of the cannabis plant would result in a potent potable. Thanks to science, we now understand the mechanism by which this works within our bodies.
For starters, we know that cannabis works on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (the normal, balanced function of processes and sensations like sleepiness, mood, hunger, memory, libido, and more). When cannabinoids flood the bloodstream, they act like some neurotransmitters created by our own body, in essence tricking our ECS into believing that more chemicals are present to be used for producing the desired effects (euphoria, happiness, hunger, pain relief, etc).
Traditionally, marijuana leaves were dried, cured, and smoked to unlock their medicinal potential. But in countries like China and India, where tea is a large part of the culture, it makes sense that practitioners would brew cannabis-infused tea and other beverages, to take advantage of the plant’s particular restorative qualities.
We’re all a little bit misguided in believing that raw cannabis plants contain the cannabinoids THC and CBD, among others. In fact, raw plants contain acids – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A for short) and cannabidiolic acid (CBD-A) – which, once they undergo the process of decarboxylation (when heated) are converted to the popular cannabinoids we know and love.
These acids are not psychoactive – they won’t get you high. While some people (like Dr. William Courtney) believe that raw plant material is more nutritionally beneficial to your health than dried and cured cannabis, it should be noted that these acids do not provide the same kind of relief from symptoms of pain and depression as their by-products.
If you boil freshly harvested cannabis leaves, you’ll end up with an interesting but weak brew. For a relaxing cuppa, you’ll want to use marijuana leaves that have been dried and cured – ones you saved from being rolled into a joint, for instance.
So, you’ve boiled your THC-rich cured cannabis leaves but you aren’t getting that “high” you desire? That’s because psychoactive THC is not water-soluble – the cannabinoid will not attach to water molecules. To benefit from THC tea, you must first infuse fats like butter or coconut oil, or create a THC tincture with alcohol, and then add these ingredients into your tea.
If you haven’t been introduced to the myriad ways cannabis can be incorporated into your healthy lifestyle, you are truly missing out.
Marijuana has been credited with many successful clinical applications, including reducing the number of seizure episodes persons with debilitating epileptic diseases experience and allowing patients with mental health conditions like PTSD, bipolar disorder, stress, and anxiety cope with the daily effects of their conditions.
Here are several ways people use cannabis tea to improve their wellbeing:
- Reduce chronic pain: a key argument in the fight for cannabis legalization is the plant’s natural analgesic properties – it effectively fights pain and reduces inflammation both locally and system-wide. Because cannabis tea is ingested as opposed to inhaled, the cannabinoids are absorbed through the digestive tract and liver, where they are broken down further into chemicals that are even more potent. This typically takes upwards of an hour and a half to two hours, but the effects are much longer lasting.
- Relieve depression and anxiety: happiness, euphoria, creativity, and focus are among many of the beneficial mental effects experienced when dosing with marijuana, and consuming this herbal medication as tea provides the same result – if done so properly and preferably with the guidance of a medical professional, of course.
- Promote lung health: inhaling cannabis smoke can be damaging to the lungs (especially when paired with bleached rolling papers, do-it-yourself filters, or tobacco) but interestingly, cannabis can help decrease resistance in the respiratory tract and increase airflow. Tea infused with marijuana cannabinoids is a great workaround that allows you to benefit from this remedy without causing any more damage.
- Reduce tummy troubles: cannabis is already considered an antispasmodic and has been successfully used to treat epileptic conditions for years now, but this ability to reduce muscle spasms can also be beneficial to people suffering from stomach issues like IBS. This is especially true when the plant is swallowed as an edible or tea, rather than smoked or vaporized.
Dosing with a traditional herbal remedy like marijuana is notoriously hard – everyone and every experience is unique! Start with cannabis tea in the same way you might start with any other infused edible: slowly.
Choose your favorite recipe, or one that seems the most interesting, and follow the directions to the letter. Then, we recommend starting with at least half a cup a day, slowly increasing until you are comfortable and happy with the results.
Remember: it’s possible to develop a tolerance to cannabis; only use when needed and if you start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to take a break!
You can always increase or decrease depending on your desired effects, but remember that, specifically with cannabis that is ingested, you’re probably not going to experience the full-blown effects until 30 to 90 minutes after drinking, so don’t keep filling your cup or you may end up in an uncomfortable situation!
How long does a cannabis tea high last?
You’re likely to start experiencing the onset of your cannabis tea high within 30-90 minutes of your first sip, but the effects will usually peak around the 2 to 3-hour mark, and most often wear off between 4 and 8 hours later. Ingested cannabis takes longer to set in because, although some cannabinoids will inevitably pass through the G.I. tract on their way down, they are converted to a more potent form in the liver before being passed into the bloodstream to do their work.
Now we get to the fun part – making marijuana tea. While purists choose to brew their cannabis tea “black”, others like to have a little fun with it and add extra ingredients. Whatever you choose comes down to personal preference, but popular recipes include:
- Boiling dried leaves or flowers and water (Don’t forget! Cannabis tea brewed straight from the fresh flower or leaf will be much less psychoactive because THC is not water-soluble.)
- Add in cannabis-infused fat like butter or coconut oil and tea leaves for a cannabis latte of sorts
- Add some drops of a cannabis-infused tincture (alcohol-based), as well as tea leaves
Fan favorites include adding a cannabis infusion to golden milk (a traditional Indian combination that includes turmeric and other spices and widely considered a rich anti-inflammatory and antioxidant beverage), or your favorite herbal concoction.
If you’re the kind of kitchen creative who likes to use every last scrap, you may be interested in learning a little bit about cannabis stem tea, a practice that gets you all the bang for your buck if you grow your own marijuana.
Cannabis tea made from the leftover stems is a gentle and mellow alternative to tea brewed from resin-covered leaves and buds, but it is packed with its own medical benefits. Simply gather together what you would consider the “leftovers” of your harvest, your favorite tea for flavor, and – as with regular cannabis tea – a fat or alcohol for the cannabinoid molecules to attach to.
Note: Some folks like to grind their stems before brewing their tea, but it is not necessary to reap the benefits of the cannabinoids.
- Fill a saucepan or kettle with 3 cups of purified water, being sure to add your fat before the water starts to boil, or the alcohol-based tincture after the water has boiled (so it does not evaporate off).
- When the water has boiled, add your cannabis stems (about 1/4 – 2/3 of a cup), stirring continuously for 8-12 minutes.
- Once time has elapsed, remove the pot from the heat (now would be the time to add the tincture if you want it) and strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove the plant material.
- Dress up your cannabis tea as you would any other cup, and enjoy!
Marijuana is an extremely versatile plant with many health benefits, and regardless of how you choose to consume, we always recommend starting with the highest quality marijuana grown by your own two hands. Find your favorite cannabis seed strains and more when you shop online with Growers Choice – from CBD-rich medical strains to super potent, THC-packed seeds for the master toker, we have what you’re looking for, and more!