How to Make Cannabis Infused Tea
Creating pot-infused beverages is easy once you grasp the principles of decarboxylation and overcome solubility issues of cannabinoids – let's infuse some tea with THC and CBD.
What comes to mind when thinking about ways to consume our precious, homegrown herb? Often, it is the image of an accurately rolled spliff, the aesthetic looks of a clean bong, or the alluring smell of freshly baked cookies. Even though technological progress allowed new modes of consumption to arise, including state-of-the-art vaporizers, high potency extracts, and all kinds of THC-infused edibles, there are still a few distinguished old school methods to achieve a long-lasting and satisfying effect - one of them is infusing tea with cannabis.
Before we frantically grind up our weed and pour hot water over it, we need to calm ourselves and take the principle of decarboxylation into consideration, and also, look at the solubility of cannabinoids.
THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS TEA
The concept of demonizing cannabis and outlawing it as a dangerous drug is a very recent construction of mankind. Experts believe that various cultures cultivated cannabis for at least 12,000 years, which makes it one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops.
Historians identified the Indian culture to be the first one to consume cannabis in a tea form, although bhang, the Indian name for a unique drink/edible, is completely different to what we expect when thinking of a nice cup of tea.
Traditional bhang is a green-looking paste that gets converted into ceremonial drinks and edibles in a second step. Indians make it by crushing buds, leaves, and seeds of the mature cannabis plant using a pestle and mortar, and mix in spices, milk, and ghee, the Indian version of clarified butter.
You make a good point when saying that bhang paste and drinks like bhang lassi have limited similarities with the tea we know, but most recipes to infuse tea with cannabis work by that same principle – binding cannabinoids to some form of fat and then infusing the actual beverage in a subsequent step.
The Jamaican culture is also known for brewing ganja tea, which is completely different to bhang. Jamaicans use the leaves of a young cannabis plant instead of fully mature buds and leaves. Consequently, we must be aware of the very low potency of this traditional ganja tea, also due to a brewing method that uses nothing but hot water and no fats.
DECARBOXYLATION AND SOLUBILITY ISSUES OF CANNABINOIDS
If we aim for a tea that ensures a potent effect, we need to do it “Bhang-style” rather than approaching this manner with Jamaican simplicity. The reason for this lies in the principle of decarboxylation and the fact that cannabinoids are not soluble in water.
Think of decarboxylation as a process that transforms cannabinoids from their acidic and inactive form, meaning THCA and CBDA, into the desired compounds THC and CBD. Decarboxylation automatically takes place during combustion and when people apply low heat during a baking process.
Additionally, it is of great significance to give cannabinoids a chance to bind to fat due to the solubility issue – a reason why Indian bhang makers use milk and clarified butter.
TWO WAYS OF INFUSING TEA WITH CANNABIS
1. The Cannabutter Method (easy and convenient)
Ingredients for one serving of 200ml:
• 1 teaspoon of cannabutter
• 1 cup of boiling water
• 1-2 tea bags
One of the best methods to infuse a cup of tea with cannabis is likewise the most convenient – all you need is a teaspoon of cannabutter. If you are in the good position to grow your own weed, the best advice would be to prepare a batch of cannabutter each time you finish a run. You can simply divide your butter into small portions, put them in plastic containers, and place them in the freezer to preserve freshness. By building up a stock of cannabutter, you’ll achieve the flexibility to infuse various dishes and beverages whenever you feel like it.
Dissolving butter in tea seems utterly strange at first, but it is worth it! The decarboxylation of cannabinoids takes place during the upstream process of making cannabutter, which takes its time, but the high fat content of butter qualifies it as an carrier material for THC and CBD.
2. “Cannabis Tea Latte” (made from scratch and great for gatherings)
Ingredients for 4 servings of 200ml each:
• 7g finely ground buds or 14g of trimmings (ideally decarboxylated)
• 15g softened butter (or 30ml of pre-heated coconut oil)
• 400ml full-fat milk (or almond milk etc.)
• 400ml water
• Tea leaves and a metal tea infuser
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 4 tablespoons of honey, hints of cinnamon
1. First of all, we decarboxylate our cannabis at 105-110°C for 1 hour using an oven. This step is obligatory yet recommendable to achieve the highest potency possible. Note: Most ovens are not very precise, it is crucial to monitor temperatures with an additional thermometer. Anything above 115°C can potentially do more harm than any good! Several experts state that 106°C is the ideal temperature for 1 hour of decarboxylation.
2. Mix plant matter, milk, vanilla extract, and butter (or coconut oil) thoroughly. Let this mixture sit at room temperature for about 1 hour.
3. Now, you can pour the mix into a pot, add water, and also place your pre-loaded metal tea infuser in the middle. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, aim for low to medium temperatures, and don’t boil anything!
4. Pour your “tea latte” through a fine kitchen sieve to remove all plant matter and refine flavours with a tablespoon of honey, a dash of cinnamon, and anything else you desire.