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Marijuana: Product or Ingredient?

John Grams

Over the next few years, the marijuana industry must absorb the costs of premium taxes and burdensome regulations, while still competing with the black market. To transform cannabis into a profitable, regulated, mainstream industry, public companies must expedite financial sustainability. The best strategy will be building their brands through added-value, premium products that the black market simply cannot provide. To the black market and small growers, marijuana is a product. But public companies have the additional strengths of product development, distribution and marketing. Tea is an easy example. CBD Tea may be produced locally by Tea Shops. Or Cannabis grower/manufacturers may use it to extend their brand and build a new revenue stream. Folks inside the tea industry see CDB Tea as a strategic brand extension.

Reaching the Tea Market with CBD

Although people can put CBD drops on their tongue, the real opportunity is delivering this emerging product in ways that fit consumer habits. The tea industry has seen tremendous interest in CBD

Tea as a preferred way to ingest. It improves the taste, and relaxing moments are already part of the tea culture.

CBD oil with dropper.

Photo Credit: jcomp:

Like CBD, tea is renowned for a myriad of health benefits, many supported by clinical studies.

Tea has already established the health story CBD is presenting. It already has an established following of health-conscious people. It is their preferred way to relax. Next to water, tea is the most popular drink in the world.

Is CBD Tea Prepared-at-Home or an RTD Product?

It is difficult to make a satisfying CBD Tea at home. You cannot just add a few drops of CBD oil to your tea or steep some “bud” and get the drink you are hoping. In fact, many producers are learning there are some tricks to producing a quality product. The first CBD Teas on the market used oil-based CBD. Carrier oil extends CBD shelf life and prevents it going rancid. Unfortunately, CBD oil is not soluble in water. The oils don’t extract into hot water. The CBD does not become part of the tea nor is it absorbed by the body. The customer bought a CBD Tea with no CBD benefits. Companies like Tea Composer have spent a great deal of effort in the lab confronting the concept of ‘bioavailability.’ It is the rate at which CBD is absorbed into the tea, so it can be absorbed by the body.

Jim Fahrney, the founder of Tea Composer, created a water-soluble CBD carrier so his compound would extract into hot tea. It made his CBD bioavailable, allowing customers to feel the full effect of the tea.

Buddha Teas has also resolved this issue, becoming one of the leading CBD Teas in the industry.

For a customer to make CBD Tea at home, they will probably add fresh cannabis to hot water. But the heat of the water won’t extract the cannabinoids. They may be pleased with the tea, but not because of CBD. Heating the cannabis will extract terpenes. Terpenes offer a mild therapeutic effect people may notice, but not the greater benefits of CBD. Releasing the cannabinoids is more complex.

First, the plant material must be heated to transforms the cannabinoids into CBD. This isn’t boiling. It is baking the cannabis in an oven for an hour or more. From this point, there are many recipes online for CBD Tea, but they all include mixing, marinating, simmering and other time consuming preparations. People may prepare their CBD Tea at home for their first time. But CBD Tea is a Ready-to-Drink (RTD) retail product.

The Right Tea from the Right Relationship

At first, everyone thought green tea was the right CBD Tea. It seemed appropriate because of its association with health benefits. But CBD Tea preparation requires higher temperatures and longer steeping than green tea can withstand.

The most successful CBD teas are made with Assam black tea. It has the same brewing requirements as water-soluble CBD. Both require higher temperatures, brewing between 190⁰ and 200⁰ F and steep as long as 4-5 minutes. This is why after experimenting with various teas, Jim Fahrney now uses Mana Organics Assam Black tea. It is how Mana Organics has become so knowledgeable about the CBD Tea process. The demands are perfect for their organic Assam.

Tea being poured into a tea cup

Photo Credit: jcomp

The Organic teas of Mana fit the expectations of CBD drinkers for an uncompromised tea, without pesticides or chemicals. Brewers appreciate the flexibility of various grades in both CTC and Orthodox teas for blending. Manufacturers can select the grade that best fits their manufacturing equipment.

In support of financial sustainability, major manufacturers will develop a Grower-Direct relationship that provides a reliable supply of consistent tea, without adding cost to the supply chain. It is important the Grower-Direct relationship provides a North American warehouse as a hedge against disrupted shipping, natural disasters, and unexpected tariffs. A warehouse enables manufacturers to garner volume pricing while enabling just-in-time inventory management. Such a partnership offers marijuana companies a knowledge-base of tea and a cost-effective way to extend their brand and revenues, as they transform the cannabis market. 

About Mana Organics

Mana Organics includes a few estates in the Assam valley of India. We produce an organic and natural, single estate tea in an array of grades. By warehousing in St. Louis, Mana Organics is structured to provide responsive support the North American customers.

Avantika Jalan, the director, is the 4th-generation of a tea-grower family. Her great-grandfather Murleidhor Jalan is recognized as the first Indian founder of a tea estate, starting the family business in 1924. Today, the family also runs the Durrung Tea Estate, one of the oldest in Assam, started in 1864.

Avantika operates the estate with her husband John and a team that uniquely includes two women field managers, a woman to run the green tea factory and two women that manage the business office.

Community Development at Chota Tingrai is managed by three women who carry our social mission forward. Chota Tingrai is home to 2200 people. We are a small town, operating two elementary schools, a hospital, a library, public utilities and housing. Part of our mission is to shape this community into a self-sufficient, sustainable and healthy society.

Avantika and John both hold a Master of Development Practice from UC Berkeley. Their passion is as much about community development as it is tea. And they make an exceptional tea. 

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