When you hear the terms Cannabis Tea or Marijuana Tea what is meant is actually one of these two things:
1. Marijuana flower, leaves, or stems steeped in water.
2. Leaves of the Camellia sinensis/assamica tea shrub steeped in water infused with cannabinoids from the marijuana plant.
#1 is not really tea. In order for something to be a tea it must include leaves from Camellia sinensis/assamica. #1 is technically what is known as a tisane. The difference between tea and tisane is very important, but rarely addressed by many authors of beverage recipes. You’ll find a ton of these ‘marijuana tea’ recipes online and in my opinion it would seem that few of the authors have actually tasted what they are writing recipes about.
Cannabis brewed in water tastes downright awful. It’s bitter and grassy. Whole cannabis flowers are used in traditional Indian bhangs, but these beverages also have other ingredients. And it’s not tea, it’s bhang. Tea is Camellia sinensis/assamica, always.
Cannabis brewed in water will result in the essential oils and cannabinoids of the material to float and stick to the cup. The active chemistry in cannabis is not water soluble. You cannot make a tisane of cannabis in water, and you sure as heck can’t make a tea out of it either.
#2 Is the correct definition of cannabis tea. Or rather, cannabis-infused tea. Cannabis product + emulsifiers + leaves from Camellia sinensis/assamica make tea which has been infused with cannabinoids and other essential oils from the cannabis plant using emulsifying ingredients that distribute the non-water soluble chemistry throughout the beverage.
Making cannabis tea appealing involves controlling the overpowering terpenes and ‘green’ flavors of the plant material. Tea leaves are delicate and have their own set of terpenes–many of which can also be found in cannabis and that complement the cannabinoids in cannabis. For this a more purified form of cannabis is suggested–such as a cold water hash.
But what about tisane? Cannabis tisane can be made with any form of cannabis as long as an emulsifier is present in the water to distribute the non-water soluble chemistry throughout the beverage. But again, cannabis alone, infused in water is not very tasty. To make a really lovely cannabis tisane you need some more herbal ingredients that complement the cannabinoids, herbs with many of the same terpenes found in cannabis like mint leaves, lemon, clove, and florals like rose and lavender. Cannabis is a wonderful plant but the flavor can be overpowering when it is brewed as a single herb tisane or if too much of the green plant material is used in herbal tisane blends.
Flavor is important in any cannabis beverage. That’s my opinion. Remember the old saying, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down?” Cannabis needs an entourage of flavors to be really tasty in tea and tisane! But of course, you are free to enjoy cannabis-infused beverages how you prefer.
Now, let’s make a cup or two of delicious cannabis tea!
Chai is probably the easiest and most convenient way of making marijuana-infused tea for most people who have never attempted this before. Traditional chai is typically a black assamica variety of tea paired with the milk of your choosing (dairy or any milk that has some fat content). This tea can be spiced or not–or sweetened or not. The tea is very bold and the flavor of the tea really shines through the creamy milk.
Infusing this with a small amount of cannabis oil adjusted exactly to the dose that is best for you could not be easier. You’ll want to select a cannabis hashish or extract that is low in the kind of terpenes that give off a “skunky” odor and select something with low or no odor, or select a concentrate with pronounced limonene (citrus) fragrance for the best results with flavor. Simply select your hashish or concentrate and decarb this in a small amount of camellia seed oil or rice bran oil for best results. I prefer camellia seed oil. 1/2 gram of any concentrate or hashish dissolved and decarbed in 1 tablespoon of oil will make multiple servings based on the percentage of THC. My rule of thumb has been to calculate this based on how much “dab” it might take me to experience effect in a vape session–and then measure the portion of decarbed oil into each tea cup based on that. You can always try more in an hour if you don’t feel anything–but be sure to wait an hour or two before serving more of the oil in tea!
In my book, High Tea I make some recommendations for the best tea brand to use for beginners just starting out–I have two favorite bagged black teas. Lipton Yellow Label is much different from the Western Lipton and is a much loved brand for Chai in the regions of the world where this beverage originates. You can order on Amazon or find it in any middle eastern grocer. Red Rose is my other favorite bagged tea–but not quite as rich as Lipton Yellow Label. Red Rose has a unique fragrance and flavor as a humble bagged tea which has made this a favorite for almost a century! It’s my second choice for making Chai. If you plan on spicing your chai, I would recommend Lipton Yellow Label.
A favorite cannabis chai recipe of mine goes like this:
- 2 bags of Lipton Yellow Label
- 2 cups of boiling water
- 2 tablespoons of any fatty milk you prefer (dairy, coconut, hemp, almond, etc.) One for each cup.
- Two servings of the cannabis oil as described here. Combine with milk before adding to the tea.
- 2 saffron rock candy stirrers, One for each cup (these are my favorite ones, available on Amazon)
Boil the water and add the teabags. Let this brew in the cup until very dark and rich–at least a minute or so. Remove the bags before adding the milk that has been combined with the cannabis oil–the tea bags will retain oils if you leave them in the cup while adding the milk and cannabis oil so don’t do that. Serve with a saffron rock candy stirrer. This makes an impressive tea to serve even for the fanciest event! I love this as an everyday sort of chai it is so flavorful with the saffron.
If you’d like to spice this tea you can add some whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and star anise to the boiling water and let that brew for a couple of minutes before adding the hot water to the tea.