Why Teas Made with Cannabis May Soon Be Top Sellers

Mar 25, 2021

Keen to stock CBD tea? This is what you should know.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the marijuana plant and an increasing body of research points to myriad health benefits. CBD teas are becoming more popular in many countries, although they’re not available in Australia yet. Here’s what you need to know.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol – or CBD for short – is one of more than 100 cannabinoid chemical compounds in the marijuana plant, Cannabis Sativa. Though advocates claim CBD has various therapeutic effects on the body, it’s quite different to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, also a cannabinoid). THC is the part of the marijuana plant with psychoactive effects, that is, it gets people ‘high’ or ‘stoned’. CBD does not have the properties commonly associated with recreational drugs.

Is CBD legal in Australia?

Sort of! Medicinal cannabis, including CBD, can be prescribed by doctors in Australia, with regard to state and territory laws. The Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently approved low-dose CBD for over-the-counter sale at pharmacies, but no related products have been approved. The TGA has approved one CBD-based drug to treat child epilepsy, but recommends that it be prescribed by neurologists. In the meantime, CBD oil is quietly sold for topical use and as a vape juice in some herb and health food stores and online.

What about elsewhere?

In the US and the UK, CBD is widely available and commonly sold as teas and infusions, often combined with other herbal ingredients such as matcha, turmeric and peppermint. Some cafes, restaurants and bars have also experimented with CBD infusions in menu items, cashing in on its novelty and perceptions as a health aid. It’s been spotted in beer, cupcakes, coffee, ice cream sundaes, cocktails and smoothies.

Why would people want to consume CBD as tea?

Numerous health benefits have been reported following the consumption of CBD. It’s claimed to assist with chronic pain, severe inflammation and seizures caused by conditions including epilepsy and ongoing nausea, as well as psychological conditions such as anxiety, stress, panic disorder and depression. Further research and analysis are needed to prove the purported benefits, but that hasn’t stopped advocates and users pushing the industry forward based on limited studies and anecdotal evidence.

Tea is a simple, palatable way to consume CBD, though there are issues ensuring that oil-based CBD is properly dispersed in hot water. Some people recommend serving CBD tea with a fat source, such as milk or coconut cream, to assist with extraction. CBD doesn’t have a flavour in itself, but some commercially available oils are flavoured, often with fruit extracts.

Is CBD the same as hemp?

No. Hemp is the seeds of the cannabis plant. It’s legal to sell and consume in Australia in seed form and as an oil or tea, but it doesn’t have the same purported health benefits as CBD. Internationally, many tea manufacturers combine hemp and CBD oil in their products.

Hemp is popping up locally in soups, smoothies and breads and in some shelf-stable products. The Cannabis Company recently released a hemp gin, using Tasmanian hemp extracts in the brew, and is a big proponent of bringing cannabis products to market. “We are on a mission to promote the natural healing power of the cannabis plant, challenging the orthodox principles of the big pharmaceutical companies and Western medicine,” says Alexandra Poznyak, Managing Director of Treeline Beverages, a division of The Cannabis Company.

When will CBD tea be on sale in Australia?

The TGA ruling means the pathway is open for product development and pharmacy sales, but companies still need to demonstrate the safety, efficacy and quality of their products to gain approval. We’re unlikely to see much on the shelves in Australia before the end of 2021 and into 2022. When momentum builds, it’s projected to be big. Industry body FreshLeaf Analytics predicts the CBD market will exceed $200 million per annum when products roll out.

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