New to cannabis drinks? Well, friend, you came to the right place. I’ve spent the last couple of months taste-testing and researching THC drinks, CBD-infused beverages, and all other sorts of hemp drinks. And I didn’t just do it for my own pleasure, but yours, too!
You see, not all cannabis drinks were created equally. To cut right to it, some of them taste like sh*t and others are more potent than you may think. Allow my lessons learned to guide you in the right direction and toward the weed drink of your dreams!
What are cannabis drinks?
Infused cocktails are far from revolutionary. But when you add marijuana drinks into the mix, well, that’s when we start to tread into trailblazer territory.
Despite their name, cannabis cocktails and liquid marijuana shots don’t always contain alcohol. Actually, most of them don’t! A major selling point to weed drinks and hemp-infused beverages is that they’re an alternative to alcohol. So while some local bars may be offering you a shot of CBD in your Long Island Iced Tea, the cannabis market is approaching it in a much different way.
Using popular ingredients like seltzer and teas, the 21+ market is welcoming all sorts of cannabis drinks with open arms. Some contain the psychoactive ingredient THC (so they will mess you up) while others stick to the tamer cannabinoids (like CBD, CBG, and CBN). And of course, there’s an option for both THC and CBD-infused refreshments.
FWIW, I don’t know who was the first to decide that we needed to add legitimate options like CBD water and THC soda to the market. But I’m sure as hell glad that someone did! (Although, IMHO y’all should still have to experience a Phan-made weed butter lemonade in the Freezer at the Merriweather Post Pavilion or try making your own Green Dragon before being graced with such innovation).
Hemp drinks v.s. CBD drinks v.s. THC drinks: What’s the difference?
Cannabis sativa is the umbrella term for hemp and marijuana plants. So when discussing the “cannabis industry” we’re really talking about more than just pot. Other cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-8, as well as hemp oil, all get lumped into the same industry. That said, there are different markets within the trade.
It’s important to note that THC (and CBD for that matter) infused drinks are not considered edibles. Even though you’re ingesting these products, because of their formulation and how your body accesses the cannabinoids, they’re technically sublingual. So what does this mean for you? You should start to feel the effects of the products within 15 minutes of starting to drink them. That also means if you chug something like a weed cocktail, you risk flying way too close to the sun.
The hemp market is traditionally noted as the place of sale for all hemp-derived products. This includes CBD. Which begs the question: what’s the difference between hemp and CBD? For simplicity’s sake, it’s not much. The majority of its dissimilarities boil down to how the product is sourced (as well as incorrect, local colloquialisms).
On the technical side of things, hemp products are made from or with hemp oil. Hemp plants (and their oil) are home to some cannabinoids, like CBD, but the terms hemp and CBD aren’t interchangeable. Hemp oil products usually source from the seeds of the hemp plant, whereas CBD products source from the stems and leaves of a hemp plant. This is why straight-up CBD products don’t contain hemp oil. The only exception to this is the selective amount of CBD products that are formulated with a mix of both. (I exhaust this discussion in my guide to CBD topicals, so be sure to read that if you want a more detailed explanation).
Nonetheless, when it comes to advertising and branding, well, that’s where things can get confusing for consumers. Hemp drinks are beverages infused with the broad-spectrum (unless otherwise stated) hemp oil of hemp plants. These types of beverages are formulated with minute amounts of CBD but higher concentrations of other cannabinoids and terpenes. True hemp products have been shown to yield a positive effect on our moods, lower blood pressure, promote heart health, as well as soothe general inflammation.
CBD drinks on the other hand are normally infused using CBD isolate (there are exceptions to this). So unlike hemp drinks, products like CBD seltzer water lack the other cannabinoids needed to assist in the entourage effect. This explains why CBD drinks are more relaxing and calming than anything else. Not only do they lack the psychoactive compound (THC), but they lack the other cannabinoids that heighten the cannabis experience. So if you choose to explore CBD drinks, you can expect an ever-so-slightly euphoric experience. Add onto that the benefits of CBD, and you may never pick up an alcoholic beverage again!
Although research is limited, CBD has shown it has strong potential for effectively managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
THC (weed) drinks
And last but certainly not least, weed drinks are beverages instilled with the marijuana plant’s main psychoactive compound: THC. So sipping on one will cause more than just an over-arching sense of euphoria and relief. Depending on the potency, THC beverages can really f*ck you up. I say this as a word of caution. DO NOT CHUG THE DRINKS. They are much better enjoyed when you slowly sip on them. I speak from experience. Unless you want to text your BFF that you’re alternating between dimensions and forgot how to speak, drink it slowly.
Best cannabis drinks on the market (in my humble opinion, anyway)
Cannabis-infused beverages aren’t a part of a teeny tiny market. In fact, sales of infused beverages soared 40% last year. And according to experts, the market is expected to continue growing. Some projections predict the cannabis beverages market will exceed a compounded annual growth rate of ~17% by 2025.
As more of these products flood the market, how are you to know which ones are worth your coins? I’ll tell ya. Listed below are a few of my favorite CBD and THC-infused drinks.
1) Best variety of weed drinks: CANN
Got high standards? Well, I’m nearly certain Cann will surpass them. These cannabis-infused beverages, or “social tonics” as the brand calls them, are infused with 2mg of THC and 4mg of CBD per can. Sold in packs of four, 10, 30, or 48, this is the perfect replacement for alcohol on 4/20…and every day after that.
Currently, the brand offers five flavors: Grapefruit Rosemary, Lemon Lavender, Blood Orange Cardamom, Ginger Lemongrass, and Pineapple Jalapeño. And since the drinks are relatively low-cal (30-35 per can), contain only natural ingredients, and don’t leave you with a hangover, it’s impossible to feel guilty enjoying them.
Price: $14-$20 for a 4 or 6-pack
2) Best tasting THC drink: Green Monké
This is the liquid THC drink that stands out from the crowd. Unlike its competitors, it isn’t an adult seltzer or herbal tea. Green Monké is actually a marijuana-infused soft drink! Its creators have instilled in it the perfect mix of social soda and relaxing refreshment. It’s also vegan and gluten-free, made with only 5g sugar and just 25 calories per 12oz can.
Green Monké’s potency falls in between most other cannabis drinks. It’s not too strong and not too weak. It’s just right! Infused with 3mg of THC and 6mg of CBD, Green Monké is the perfect solution to wanting a beverage that will allow you to turn up without completely turning your mind off. Its Tropical Citrus flavor tastes like a crossover between a piña colada and Mountain Dew. But if that’s not for you, don’t worry! The brand tells us that it has plans to release more flavors in the very near future.
Prices vary by retailer
3) Most potent cannabis drink: WUNDER Higher Vibes
Hard seltzers and White Claw summers are about to become nothing more than a memory of the deep past thanks to WUNDER. These cannabis-infused seltzers have completely changed the game. Whether you’re a party person (outside of this pandemic, of course) or someone who vibes the hardest while chilling on a hammock, WUNDER is for you.
The company prides itself on creating wonderful sparkly beverages that contain the enhanced benefits of cannabinoids. WUNDER currently offers two levels of potency in a variety of flavors. The original WUNDER is low-dose, containing 2 mg of delta-9 THC, 2 mg of delta-8, and 4 mg of CBD. It’s available in Blood Orange Bitters, Grapefruit Hibiscus, and Lemon Ginger. The more potent variety, WUNDER Higher Vibes, contains 10 mg delta-9 THC, 10 mg of delta-8, and less than 2 mg of CBD. Higher Vibes is definitely reserved for the more experienced cannabis consumer, given its strength. But nonetheless, it’s still delicious! This variety is available in Lemon Ginger, Blood Orange Bitters, and Watermelon Basil.
I had the opportunity to try both WUNDER’s original seltzer and Higher Vibes. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised by how good both of them taste. There’s no hempy flavor or weird aftertaste, which I can’t say about certain CBD seltzers. It just tastes like seltzer! And even as someone who is very experienced with cannabis products (I like to call myself a professional cannabis connoisseur), Higher Vibes took me for a ride and I felt the effects almost immediately after I started sipping. The high is similar to an edible, it just hits you way quicker. So don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Price varies by retailer
4) Best sugar-free THC drinks: LEVIA
Reigning supreme in Massachusetts, LEVIA seltzers are relatively new to the space but they’re making a big splash. Since February of 2021, LEVIA has expanded to nearly a hundred retailers. Giving its carbonated competition, CANN, a run for its money. After hundreds of thousands of sales of its product, consumers agree (in Massachusetts at least) that LEVIA is their number one choice in canna-bevs.
Designed by a team of industry experts, LEVIA seltzers provide a fast and predictable effect from 5mg of THC. This makes it more potent than most run-of-the-mill cannabis drinks. So remember to sip it slowly! The 12-ounce cans have zero calories and absolutely no sugar. So there’s no stomachache or guilt from said stomachache (I know I’m not the only one with an intolerance to sugar!).
Currently, the brand offers three varieties: Achieve, Celebrate, and Dream. Achieve is a vibrant raspberry and lime-flavored sparkling water. It’s energized with the LEVIA Sativa blend. It’s a “get-things-done rocket booster.” Whether hiking a mountain or a mountain of laundry, Achieve will help you check off your entire to-do list while feeling great. Celebrate will keep the smiles coming with a lemon-lime flavor hybrid blend. It’s the perfect balance between chilled and chatty! Dream is a jamberry-flavored Indica blend for that peaceful, easy feeling. Relaxing on the couch, nighttime rituals, massage and spa days, or simply wanting to take the edge off at any given time call for a Dream seltzer.
Price: Varies by retailer
5) Best CBD water (noncarbonated): CBD Living
CBD Living is home to the mind-boggling and well-received CBD water. And no, I don’t mean seltzer or carbonated water. I mean the flat kind. Ya know, the could-be-from-a-bottle or could-be-from-the-sink type of beverage. It’s pretty inventive (and certified Kosher). And according to the hundreds of reviewers, I’m not the only one that is impressed by the company’s proprietary nano-Hemp technology!
Price: $3.99 for a single bottle, $84 for a case of 24 bottles*
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6) Best CBD drink for your afternoon pick-me-up: Willie’s Remedy
Nothing knocks the chill out of you better than a cup of tea. So why not take it to the next step with the added benefit of full-spectrum CBD? Brought to you by the one and only Willie Nelson, Willie’s Remedy pyramid bag and loose-leaf teas are great for casual CBD users as well as those well-versed. There’s no hempy flavor–it just tastes like high-quality tea! My personal favorites are the Hemp-infused Hibiscus and the Hemp-infused Green teas. And if you’re wondering whether or not this is safe to bring to the office, it totally is! The only CBD branding is on the tin itself (and not the teabags).
Not a fan of tea? Be sure to check out Willie’s CBD-infused coffee! It’s got all the caffeine of a cup of joe with the added chill of CBD.
Price: $17 for 1.5 oz of loose-leaf tea, $25 for 16-ct of pyramid tea, $25 for an 8-oz bag of ground or whole bean coffee
7) Best CBD seltzer water: Quatreau
Quatreau CBD seltzer water is by far one of my favorite brands of cannabis drinks. Perfect for the evening nightcap or picnic treat, these sparkling CBD waters are your one-way ticket to relaxation.
Developed using 20mg of CBD isolate, these are on the higher end of the CBD potency scale. These beverages don’t contain any added sugars or THC, either. It’s just superior quality CBD that’s giving these cans their power. Available in four uniquely fruity flavors (Lime Ginger, Blueberry Açai, Passionfruit Guava, and Cucumber Mint), Quatreau CBD offers something for everyone. These seltzers do have a slightly hemp-y aftertaste but it’s nothing too strong. Trust me, I wouldn’t recommend it if it tasted like dirt!
Price: $47.88 for a 12-pack
8) Best cannabidiol drinks for people on-the-go: B GREAT Shots
CBD and hemp drinks are usually thought of as beverages to help us relax and unwind. But what if I told you that there was a company that was not only making shots to help you loosen up but ones that will also help you focus? That company is B GREAT and its two lines of liquid CBD shots are not to be overlooked.
The FOCUS CBD shot contains 15mg of CBD sourced from full-spectrum hemp, a variety of B vitamins, caffeine, and other supplements to help you stay on your A-game. There’s no jittery feeling or nauseating flavor either. It just tastes like fruit punch!
B GREAT’S RELAX shot is formulated with 20mg of CBD sourced from full-spectrum hemp, lavender water, melatonin, Ginkgo Biloba, and other natural supplements that help you relax, unwind, and even sleep like a baby.
Price: $72 for a 12-pack
9) Best all-natural hemp drinks: UNITY
Plant-based people know just how hard it is to find a solid vegan protein bar or all-natural beverage that isn’t loaded with sugar. Unity has proposed a solution so good that I believe it should make the cut for all gatherings–large and small!
Unity’s line of wellness beverages isn’t to be overlooked. These 14 oz bottles are filled with feel-good ingredients, like ashwagandha for anxiety and immune support, Rhodiola Rosea for anxiety and fatigue, and Ginkgo Biloba for cognitive health and focus. They also lack all the ingredients you don’t want to sip, like an absurd amount of sugar, THC, and artificial flavors and preservatives. The drinks are currently available in five flavors: Strawberry Lemonade, Blueberry Lavender, Blackberry Tea, Ginger Lemonade, Elderflower Rose, there’s something for everyone!
Price: $41.94 for a 6-pack
10) Best adaptogenic CBD drink blend: Sweet Reason
Sweet Reason CBD-infused drinks are not only gorgeous, but they also leave you feeling fantastic. The presentation of the bottles plus the contents is an immediate win/win. Sweet Reason uses a blend of hemp and CBD, calming herbs, and adaptogens to really amplify the unwinding experience. It’s the perfect beverage to clear your throat of a hot dab or even just sip on before bed.
Sweet Reason beverages are currently offered in seven flavors, three of which taste similar to tea (this would be the Peach Jasmine, Plum Blush, and Citrus Spice) while the other four (Strawberry Lavender, Cucumber Mint, Lemon Rhubarb, and Grapefruit) mock a seltzer.
Price: $35.99-$44.99 for a 6-pack
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