A few weeks ago I got a snotty, nasty, exhausting cold. It drained my energy like a sponge, and I lay on the couch for hours on end, surrounded by lotion-soaked tissues, staring at the ceiling. Although the malaise was uncomfortable, it was even more painful to know that I wasn’t allowed to smoke. “Drink tea,” the internet told me. “Stay hydrated.” The prospect of dragging myself off the couch and sliding the six-foot-long into the kitchen was uninspiring until I remembered the Kikoko tea bags sitting next to the kettle.
While the California definition of “medical needs” for marijuana use is often the butt of jokes, the addition of weed to my daily life has calmed my nerves, helped me sleep and brightened my day when the old chronic depression begins. The evolution of the medical marijuana industry has been a blessing: Gone are the days of hacking a smoky, clogged pipe or rolling a joint. Now I can choose a tea bag with ingredients adapted to my immediate desires, and at the same time feel like I’m fighting a cold.
I blew my nose and opened a bag of Sympa-Tea, put it in a mug and poured steaming hot water on it. The scent of ginger and orange wafted through my filled sinuses, and as I sipped, the 20 milligrams of CBD relaxed my tight muscles. It wasn’t a magic cure, but damn, it made me feel better — and the 3 milligrams of THC was just enough to add an extra level of laughable quirk to a sickly binge of Adventure Time.
Kikoko founders Jennifer Chapin and Amanda Jones are an entrepreneurial duo who, before starting their tea company, founded Cynthia’s Sisters, a non-profit organization that raises money to help girls study law in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kikoko Teas are made with women and the ailments they often encounter in mind. Tranquili-Tea induces sleep and relieves pain with 5 milligrams of CBN and 3 milligrams of THC, Sensuali-Tea increases libido and sexual satisfaction with a hefty 7 milligrams of THC, and Positivi-Tea uses 10 milligrams of THC and 5 milligrams of CBD to deal with mood and stress.
The details of the doses — printed prominently on the front of each tea bag — are a handy guide to knowing how you’re feeling after each cup, taking some of the mystery out of randomly taking a hit from a bowl. But everyone is different, and my reactions to each tea bag were different. Positivi-Tea made me predictably talkative and outgoing, but I felt able to talk to strangers at the dog park without feeling self-conscious. (That’s my gauge). Tranquili-Tea had the desired effect that I fell asleep gently at night, gagging until my alarm went off, nine hours later.
But it was Sensuali-Tea who dealt an unexpected blow. I made a cup each for my friend and me, in anticipation of the sexy evening the tea bag describes. The organic hibiscus cardamom blend tasted fantastic: rich, red and fruity. “It intensifies the big O,” Kikoko claims. And while I’m sure it did, the tea hit me and my partner—both fairly experienced cannabis consumers—up our asses. Forty-five minutes after we finished our cups, we lay on our backs on the living room floor, playing a 20-second clip of our dog falling off a chair—what, when we played it the next day, not really funny was all. But we were devastated: I laughed so hard, tears streamed from my eyes and dripped into my ears. We were way too high to be fooled, and instead we fell asleep halfway through an episode Game of Thrones. The next day my abs hurt a little from so much roaring all over the body.
So maybe Sensuali-Tea isn’t for me — unless I need a good laugh the next time President Donald Trump tweets about North Korea.
But overall the tea impressed me. The flavors were fantastic and never came across as inferior to their mood enhancing ingredients. The packaging, with its curly bright flowers, was cute — and it was refreshing to try a marijuana product that wasn’t in black and aimed at men. My bleeding heart was also rewarded: five percent of Kikoko’s profits go to nonprofit organizations that raise awareness and access to cannabis medicines for sick children.
In an era where almost every makeup company, hosiery manufacturer, and minimalist modern clothing store is preaching the same message of women’s empowerment through charitable donations that seem to be just an extension of their marketing tactics, it can be easy to get burned out by everyone mostly empty promises. But Kikoko feels different. Maybe it’s because it’s new: Launched in May, the company has established its values from the start to buy from female cannabis farmers and use their products to help women with stress and chronic pain. And Chapin and Jones, who have devoted their lives to helping others, have a track record that implies that efforts to make marijuana more accessible to those who need it are genuine, not just for profit.
The only part of his marketing that: did annoy me: the comment that tea bags are “fat free” online. I mean, no shit? But I don’t drink tea as a diet either.
Still, I’m not going to lie: I’m hooked. And at $40 for a can of 10 tea bags, this new habit won’t come cheap. But offer me a resin-coated semi-smoked bowl or a steaming cup of organic lemongrass mint green Positivi tea, and you’ll bet I’ll go with the latter.