KikokoTea1 (1)

High Tea: Fill up the kettle and get the par-tea started

A couple weeks ago, I came down with a snotty, nasty, exhausting cold. It drained my energy like a sponge, and I spent hours at a time lying on the sofa surrounded by lotion-infused tissues, staring at the ceiling. While the malaise was uncomfortable, knowing I shouldn’t smoke was even more agonizing. “Drink tea,” the internet told me. “Stay hydrated.” The prospect of dragging myself off the sofa and shuffling the 20 feet to the kitchen was uninspiring, until I remembered the Kikoko tea bags sitting next to the electric kettle.

While California’s definition of “medical needs” for marijuana use is frequently the butt of jokes, for me, the addition of weed to my daily life has calmed nerves, helped me sleep, and brightened my day when the ol’ chronic depression kicks in. The medical marijuana industry’s evolution has been a blessing: Gone are the days where I hack over a smoky clogged pipe or fumble to roll a joint. Now, I can select a tea bag with ingredients customized to meet my immediate desires, and feel like I’m fighting a cold at the same time.

I blew my nose and opened a bag of Sympa-Tea, popped it in a mug, and poured steaming hot water on top. The scent of ginger and orange floated up through my stuffed sinuses, and as I sipped, the 20 milligrams of CBD relaxed my tight muscles. It wasn’t a magical cure, but damn, it made me feel better — and the 3 milligrams of THC were just enough to add an extra level of giggly peculiarity to a sick-day binge of Adventure Time.

Kikoko founders Jennifer Chapin and Amanda Jones are an entrepreneurial duo who, before creating their tea company, established Cynthia’s Sisters, a nonprofit that raises money to put girls through law school in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kikoko Teas were created 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 employs 10 milligrams of THC and 5 milligrams of CBD to manage mood and stress.

The details of the doses — printed prominently on the front of each teabag — are a useful guide for knowing how you may feel after each cup, which takes away some of the mystery of randomly taking a hit off a bowl. But everyone is different, and my reactions to each teabag varied. Positivi-Tea made me predictably chatty and extroverted, but I felt capable of talking to strangers in the dog park without feeling self-conscious. (That’s my meter). Tranquili-Tea had the desired effects of putting me softly to sleep at night, and I conked out until my alarm went off, nine hours later.

But it was Sensuali-Tea that packed an unexpected punch. I made one cup each for my boyfriend and me, expecting the sexy evening the teabag’s description described. The organic hibiscus cardamom blend tasted fantastic: rich, red, and fruity. “It intensifies the big O,” Kikoko claims. And while I’m sure that it does, the tea knocked me and my partner — both fairly experienced pot consumers — onto our asses. Forty-five minutes after finishing our cups we were lying on our backs on the living room floor, replaying a 20-second clip of our dog falling off a chair —  which, when we played it the next day, wasn’t actually funny at all. But we were wrecked: I laughed so hard, tears poured out of my eyes and trickled into my ears. We were way too high to fool around, and instead, fell asleep halfway through an episode of Game of Thrones. The next day, my abs ached slightly from so much full-body guffawing.

So, maybe Sensuali-Tea isn’t for me — unless I need a good laugh-cry next time President Donald Trump tweets about North Korea.

But overall, the teas impressed me. The flavors were fantastic, never coming across as secondary to their mood-enhancing ingredients. The packaging, with its curling bright flowers, was cute — and it was refreshing to try a marijuana product that wasn’t dressed in black and targeted at men. My bleeding heart was also rewarded: Five percent of Kikoko’s profits go to non-profit organizations that increase awareness and access to cannabis medicine for ill children.

In an era where nearly every makeup company, hosiery manufacturer, and minimalist modern clothing retailer preach the same message of women’s empowerment through donations to charities that appear to only be an extension of their marketing tactics, it can be easy to get burned out by all the mostly empty promises. But Kikoko feels different. Perhaps it’s because it’s new: The company launched in May, establishing from the get-go its values of buying from female cannabis farmers, and using their products to help women with stress and chronic pain. And Chapin and Jones, who have spent their lives helping others, have a track record that implies the efforts to make marijuana more accessible to those who need it are genuine, and not just for profit.

The one part of its marketing that did irk me: the note that tea bags are “fat-free” online. I mean, no shit? But also, I don’t drink tea to diet.

Nevertheless, I’m not going to lie: I’m hooked. And at $40 for a can of 10 tea bags, this new habit is not going to be cheap. But offer me a resin-coated half-smoked bowl or a steaming cup of organic lemongrass mint green Positivi-Tea, and you bet I’m going to choose the latter.