Of all the ways to consume hemp-derived CBD, drinking it has to be one of the tastiest. You can now find the plant compound (which has a pretty neutral, earthy flavor on its own) tucked into sweet teas, fizzy sodas, and smooth cold brews. These CBD-infused drinks may go down easy—but do they actually deliver any benefits? Here's what experts have to say.
What are CBD-infused drinks?
By now, most people have heard talk of hemp-derived CBD. Of the many plant compounds found in hemp, it's been the most widely researched for its ability to ease stress and promote a steadier mood1.* Once extracted from the hemp plant, a spectrum of cannabinoids like CBD can be incorporated into any number of functional oils, tinctures, capsules, gummies, and—yes—beverages.
June Chin, D.O., an integrative doctor based in New York who specializes in Cannabis sativa and health, isn't surprised by the uptick of CBD-infused drinks on the market. She sees lots of people enjoying them as (hangover-free) alternatives to social lubricants like alcohol.
By U.S. law, hemp plants must contain negligible (less than 0.3%) amounts of THC per serving, meaning hemp-derived CBD beverages will not make you feel high. Instead, the sips are marketed to quickly lead to a calm, relaxed feeling and overall sense of ease.*
So, do they really work?
CBD is a naturally fat-soluble molecule, meaning that it needs to be specially emulsified before it can be properly incorporated into liquid beverages, explains Chin.
Through this process, there is a chance that the plant compound loses some of its potency and absorbability. "[CBD] is going to be more easily absorbed by the body when it is found in, for example, a tincture with a fat-based carrier oil such as MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) or olive oil," says Sasha Kalcheff-Korn, executive director of the cannabinoid research nonprofit Realm of Caring.
Echoing this preference for lipid-soluble delivery, mbg's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, shares that "In addition to a traditional tincture, CBD-containing hemp extract found in a gelcap that contains a fat-based carrier oil, such as organic virgin hemp seed oil, is readily bioavailable for the body."*
For these reasons, there are better ways (than drinks) to reap the benefits of hemp cannabinoid compounds (more on those below). That's not to say that beverages containing CBD won't do anything to calm you down.* While there's no scientific proof to point to, plenty of people anecdotally find them helpful for unwinding and managing stress.*
Whether or not they work for you will likely depend on the amount of hemp extract and CBD in the product, how it is prepared, and how your body responds to this particular plant.
How we picked
We chose drinks that incorporate full- or broad-spectrum hemp extracts, as they contain a wider array of beneficial plant compounds than CBD isolates do.
The drinks on our list contain at least 10mg of hemp extracts, so they should all deliver a noticeable feeling of calm.
From bubbly sparkling waters to refreshing teas, we included a beverage for every palette and occasion.
We prioritized brands that use certified organic hemp to concoct delicious drinks that are light on sugars and other additives.
6 brands to try.
When it comes to what to look for in a drink, we'd recommend opting for one that uses full- or broad-spectrum hemp extracts. Unlike CBD isolate, these contain a wide array of hemp plant compounds—beyond just CBD—and tend to be more soothing to the body.* It should be clear how much of these extracts are present in each serving. Kalcheff-Korn also recommends doing your research to find a company you trust to produce a high-quality hemp product. Organic and non-GMO varieties tend to be best.
These seven brands are all brewing up high-quality hemp beverages that go down easy. From coffees to spirits, there's something on this list to help you chill morning, noon, and night.*
mbg's top picks for CBD drinks of 2022
Best drink powder: Zolt Superdrink Mix
- Full-spectrum hemp
- Wasteful packaging
- 20 mg of full-spectrum hemp extract
Price per serving:
For those who would rather mix up their own bevs, "superdrink" company Zolt offers a full-spectrum hemp powder that combines hemp with black and green tea into an energizing yet soothing mix. Sippers report that whipping up a cup helps them get through the day feeling strong and steady—without the coffee jitters.*
Best sparkling water : Miraflora Sparkling CBD Beverage
- Full-spectrum hemp
- No added sugar
- 35 mg of full-spectrum hemp extract
Price per serving:
Miraflora Naturals is a Colorado-based company that sells a wide variety of hemp products, from tinctures to gummies to sparkling waters. One neat thing about their full-spectrum, USDA-certified organic hemp is that it's grown using regenerative practices; a hungry alpaca herd helps fertilize the soil it grows in! Once in the can, it's combined with plants like ashwagandha root and flavored with teas and juices for a tasty functional beverage with no added sugar.
Best splurge: Bimble Sparkling Beverage
- Significant dose of hemp extract
- Short ingredient list
- Broad, not full-spectrum hemp extract
- 25 mg hemp extract
Cost per serving:
With flavors like blueberry lemon ginger and grapefruit basil mint, Bimble is the hemp based equivalent of a craft cocktail. These sparkling beverages are sweetened with 100% raw honey, lending a hit of sweetness without being too sugary. And with 25 mg of broad spectrum hemp extract per bottle, they deliver on their promised calming effects.
Best flavors : Recess Sparkling Water
- Great flavors
- L-theanine and lemon balm for extra calming properties
- Smaller dose of hemp extract
- 10 mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract
Price per serving:
Recess is a line of hemp-infused sparkling waters that promise to leave you feeling calm, cool, and collected after each sip. You've probably already seen the company's signature subdued cans in your local food store before. They're super popular among the wellness sect. Recess waters come in a variety of natural fruit flavorings like black cherry and blood orange. While each can has a pretty small amount of hemp extract, it also contains herbs like L-theanine and lemon balm, which have calming properties of their own.
Best nonalcoholic spirit: Aplós nonalcoholic spirit
- Great alcohol alternative
- flavored by James Beard–honored mixologist
- Broad, not full spectrum hemp
- 20 mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract
Const per serving:
Aplos' hemp-infused, nonalcoholic spirits are an elegant alternative to your happy-hour cocktail. Each bottle contains 20 milligrams of broad-spectrum hemp per serving and is flavored by a James Beard–honored mixologist, so you know it tastes divine. The sippers are made to be enjoyed straight up, on the rocks, or mixed into the mocktail of your choice.
Best coffee: Green Roads Hemp Flower Coffee
- Interesting format
- Contains caffeine
- Differs by bag, approximately 25 mg of hemp extract per serving
Cost per serving:
Female-owned Green Roads is a trusted name in the CBD industry, and the company follows strict standards for purity and potency. Their Hemp Coffee combines hemp with Colombian beans to elevate your morning brew. It may seem like an odd combo, but some find that hemp helps to offset coffee jitters and promotes more sustained energy.* While each blend is slightly different, you can find its cannabinoid profile printed on its bag. Most have an average of 25 milligrams of hemp content per serving.
More effective ways to consume CBD.
While these CBD-infused drinks provide a fun new way to consume hemp, they're not for everyone. If you're watching your sugar intake or trying to avoid added flavors and preservatives, you'll be better off going with a more straightforward delivery format. As mentioned earlier, those also tend to deliver a more consistent and reliable amount of plant compounds for serving. Here are two that experts recommend:
- Oils/ tinctures: "The first line of CBD administration I recommend is sublingual (under the tongue) with a tincture," says Kalcheff-Korn. "This provides a more direct route to the bloodstream and also allows consumers to easily measure out doses."
- Capsules (i.e., gelcaps): Capsules make it even easier to gauge dose, as they should all have the same amount inside. "I like the stability of the capsules. I like the consistency of the capsules," functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D., previously told mbg. "If I'm going to use a product, I want to get exactly the same amount every single day." Check out mbg's top CBD capsules of the year here.
Whether you're consuming a tincture or capsule/gelcap, it's generally recommended to start with the lowest dose and gradually work your way up until you find an amount that leaves you feeling calm.* Hemp products usually do not lead to side effects (especially when consumed at low doses) but feeling tired after taking them is not unheard of (though this can be a benefit for some).* It's wise to speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement, just to double-check it won't interfere with any existing medications.
The bottom line.
Though CBD-infused beverages aren't for everyone, some find them helpful for improving mood and promoting calm.* We'd recommend buying from a reputable brand like those on this list if you're looking to sip your stress away.* While you're at it, here are a few more tools that may help you get through the day with a bit more ease.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 articles on mbg, her work has appeared on Bloomberg News, Marie Claire, Bustle, and Forbes. She has covered everything from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping to a group of doctors prescribing binaural beats for anxiety. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.