Cannabis stem tea is weed tea made exclusively with leftover stems that you can’t use in other methods of ingestion.
Brewing a batch of cannabis stem tea is a great way to use all the dregs that are left over after you’re done picking your marijuana buds apart. Plus, it’s a quick, easy, and environmentally friendly way to pull all the cannabinoids out of every inch of your plant matter.
The Benefits of Cannabis Stem Tea
The benefits you’ll feel from this tea depend on what type of marijuana strain you use during the boiling process. For the most part, regardless of whether you choose a THC or CBD strain, you’ll experience a calming, sedative effect from your stem tea. You might also feel other benefits, including relief from:
- Low appetite
Stem tea really is a quick and easy way to get the medicinal perks you need to make it through the day.
Will Stem Tea Get You High?
The simple answer is…maybe — and only if you use a THC strain to steep your brew. Whether or not you get high depends on a number of factors, including:
- Your body composition
- Your tolerance to THC
- The amount of stems you use in the boiling process
- Whether or not you use a binding agent
- The quality of the cannabis plant you got the stems from
- The THC percentage in the original plant
Obviously, if you use a high-CBD strain in your stem tea, you won’t get high at all (only THC creates a psychedelic effect). Chances are, even if you use a high-THC strain to brew some tea, you may only feel a slight difference in reality. Stems contain a lot less THC — and we mean A LOT less — than other parts of the plant.
So if you’ve been hitting the chronic on a regular basis, you probably won’t feel a thing. If this is your first time dating Mary Jane, your reality might shift a bit. But it certainly won’t be as earth-shattering as it would be if you smoked a blunt or gnashed a brownie.
And if you forego the binding agent completely and just steep the stems in hot water, there’s zero chance you’ll get high. Actually, there’s zero chance you’ll feel anything because the cannabinoids won’t reach your brain.
How to Make Cannabis Stem Tea
- Stems from your favorite THC or CBD strain (1 ounce per cup of water)
- Pot (the kitchen kind) for boiling water
- Binding agent (more on this below)
- Coffee filter, cheesecloth, or strainer
- A teapot, cup, bowl, or second cooking pot to strain the liquid into
- Your favorite loose tea or tea bag (optional)
It Won’t Hurt To Decarboxylate
The jury’s still out on whether you absolutely need to decarboxylate your stems before brewing a cup of stem tea, but we say, “What can it hurt?” The answer, by the way, is nothing.
The dominant theory in the stem tea decarboxylation debate is that the heat from the hot water is enough to activate the cannabinoids. But, as you’ll see in the instructions below, normal decarboxylation occurs at temperatures higher than the boiling point of water (212 degrees Fahrenheit) and over a much longer period of time than the usual stem tea steep. For example, you’ll heat your tea water until it boils (212 degrees Fahrenheit) and then soak the stems in that water for 10 minutes at the most. But decarboxylation doesn’t get going until the temperatures get closer to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. And then it takes 30 to 40 minutes for full cannabinoid activation at that consistent temperature. You won’t get that from normal stem tea brewing.
So why risk it? Take the extra half hour or so, decarb a big batch of plant matter, and you’ll be set for all your stem tea needs for a while.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to decarboxylate your stems (or buds or any other plant matter).
- Preheat your oven to 240 degrees Fahrenheit (115 degrees Celsius for those of you across the pond). Oven temperatures can vary quite a bit, so if you have access to an oven thermometer, use it to find an accurate inside temperature.
- Break your stems into small pieces making sure they don’t overlap on the pan.
- Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the stems are golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the stems to cool.
Now, you can be sure your stem tea will produce the effects you’re looking for in a weed-based drink (either medicinal or recreational).
To Grind Or Not To Grind…
We always recommend grinding your weed for smoking or cooking purposes. But in the case of stem tea, we say leave them whole. Yes, grinding does create more surface area. In all other instances, that’s a good thing because it gives the solvent (e.g., water, alcohol, oil) an opportunity to come into contact with more of the plant matter.
So, theoretically, your tea will be better if you grind your stems. In our experience, though, logic doesn’t apply in this situation (it is weed after all, and logic seldom applies). We’ve tried it both ways and there’s really no significant difference between the final brews. Plus, grinding your stems makes everything messier. With tea, we just want a quick, easy, clean, and relaxing cuppa without all the stress and strain.
Break the stems into small pieces with your fingers and you’ll be fine.
A Bit About Binding Agents
Cannabinoids are not water-soluble, which means that when you eat, drink, or absorb them through your mouth, they need to bind with some other chemical.That’s where binding agents come in.
What are binding agents? As the name suggests, they absorb other chemicals (in this case, cannabinoids) and basically transport them to places in your body that they couldn’t normally go. Without a binding agent, cannabinoids can’t cross into your bloodstream. If they can’t get into your blood, they can’t make their way to your brain. And if they can’t get to your brain, you won’t experience any of the beneficial effects. Bummer!
Thankfully, binding agents are easy to come by. Chances are you’ve already got a variety of options in your kitchen cabinets. Fats make excellent binding agents, as do all types of alcohol. But not all fats and alcohols taste good in tea. Shocker, right?
Here are some suggestions for the best binding agents:
- Whole milk
- Coconut milk
- Coconut oil
You’ll add all the fat-based binding agents right from the start. If you choose an alcohol-based binding agent, you’ll add it later on in the process so it doesn’t boil off. For an added kick, consider using cannabis butter or cannabis coconut oil as your binding agent.
- Weigh your stems if at all possible. You’ll need 1 ounce of stems per cup of water. If you don’t have a food scale, break up your stems until they fill a ⅛ measuring cup. So, for example, if you want to brew 2 cups of stem tea, you’ll need 2 ounces or ¼ cup of stems.
- Pour the water into a pot.
- Measure in your fat-based binding agent. If you choose an alcohol-based binding agent, skip this step. You’ll add the alcohol later. Here are some useful amounts for your fat-based binding agent:
- ½ tsp of butter or coconut oil per cup of water
- 2 ½ tbsp of whole milk, half-and-half, or coconut milk per cup of water
- Turn the burner on high and bring the mixture to a boil.
- When the water’s boiling, add your stems.
- Boil everything together for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. If you have the patience, stir the mixture gently for the entire 10 minutes. This exposes as much of the stems to the boiling water as possible. If you can’t stop stirring for 10 minutes straight, move the mix around every 2 to 3 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the pot from the burner.
- If you choose an alcohol-based binding agent, add 1 tablespoon per cup of water now. We like rum in our tea because it adds sweet notes to the bitter, grassy taste of the stem tea itself.
- Pour the stem tea mix through a coffee filter, cheesecloth, or strainer to separate the liquid from the solid plant matter.
- You’re ready to go!
- Optional: Add a bag of your favorite tea to enhance the flavor. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
- Optional: Stir in some cannabis honey, regular honey, agave syrup, lemon, or raw sugar to create a unique experience.
Quality Stems Make Quality Tea
As a pot enthusiast, you may be used to looking down on the leftover bud stems as if they are completely useless. We’re here to tell you they’re not. But not all stems are created equal. As the title of this section states, quality stems make quality tea.
If you want to brew the best cup of tea possible, start with stems from high-quality, sustainably sourced, organically-grown cannabis plants. Not only does that make all your smoking, dabbing, and edible experiences infinitely better, but it also means that the final step in consuming this delicious product — cannabis stem tea — is better, tastier, and well worth the effort.
Anthony Franciosi, also known as Ant, is an honest-to-goodness farmer whose fingers are as green as the organic cannabis he grows. He is the proud founder of Honest Marijuana — an all-natural, completely organic marijuana growery in Colorado. Anthony is also an industry expert contributing his advice to a variety of publications including Bustle, Medium, Elite Daily, Dope Magazine, Sierra Magazine, Marijuanadventure, and more.