As the global appetite grows, we take a look at some of the tastiest options — from cold brews to gin dupes
Welcome to the muddy waters of CBD-infused drinks. Most of these drinks are, in fact, sparkling flavoured waters, and bright and clear in flavour and appearance. Some are based on natural fruit juices or green tea, others on sugar-free colas or cold-brewed coffees. All 15 sampled for this column had transparent ingredients listings — these sometimes include sweeteners but rarely sugar, and often include added vitamins or natural botanicals like L-theanine (an amino acid extracted from green tea and believed to enhance sleep and reduce anxiety). Each was crystal clear regarding how much CBD they contained: typically 10-15mg in a 220ml can, well below the maximum recommended daily dosage of 70mg.
It’s in getting to the facts about CBD’s therapeutic effects that things become a little muddy. The marketing spiel on most CBD-infused drinks suggests that it will help you chill out and rebalance your system — though strict advertising regulations prevent direct health-related claims.
Here’s what we do know. CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, which is an active compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD has no psychoactive effects, so it doesn’t get you high, nor, according to the WHO, is it addictive. CBD can be extracted from hemp, a variety of cannabis with very low traces of THC; those ingredients listings often specify zero THC. We know that initial studies into the therapeutic effects of CBD in relation to everything from anxiety, insomnia and inflammation-related chronic pain to epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders have encouraged further investigation, but that it’s early days yet. We also know that there is a growing global appetite for CBD-infused products, in parallel to a growing market for cannabis-infused products where these are legal. (Market research company Prohibition Partners predicts an almost 45pc compound annual growth rate for the cannabis-infused segment of the global drinks industry, compared to 3pc for the overall industry.)
While health-food stores have seen strong sales of CBD oil in recent years, CBD drinks are now everywhere, from pubs and off-licences to coffee shops and supermarkets. The jury is still out as to whether these drinks will do more for you than taste good and quench a thirst. For many consumers, that is enough — especially if it’s a thirst-quencher that doesn’t contain known health hazards like added sugar or alcohol. As one happy consumer reports on an Irish CBD drinks website, drinking their favourite CBD product “definitely helps me to chill out and feel relaxed, or at least the placebo effect does”.
Parachute CBD Infused Sparkling Lemon & Juniper + Green Tea, 10mg, 250ml, €2.85-€3.50
This well-crafted and refreshingly citrus-forward drink has a distinctly G&T flavour profile that would make it a great ready-to-drink alternative to those eye-wateringly expensive non-alcoholic gins on the market — although Alan Shubotham, one of three Irishmen behind the new Dublin-based company, says he likes to have his as a late-afternoon alternative to that third coffee. Check out their tangy apple and ginger drink too. SuperValu, selected food and healthfood stores, drinkparachute.com
Intune Grapefruit & Mint, 10mg, 250ml, €3.50-€4
Made with spring water and natural flavourings, the Intune range is refreshing, balanced and clean-tasting. This one features quince juice with passion fruit, grapefruit and mint flavourings: think freshly minted sparkling water with a splash of citrus. Eatyard, Martin’s, neighbourfood.ie, thecbdstore.ie
Calm CBD Infused Sparkling Orange, 10mg, 330ml, €4
If you like the sound of Berocca meets Club Orange by way of Tropicana, this might be your buzz: a sweet and zesty sparkling orange with all sorts of added immune-supporting vitamins, including vitamins C, D, A and lots of Bs. Probably the least ‘natural tasting’ but tasty all the same. thecbdstore.ie
Trip CBD Infused Peach Ginger, 15mg, 250ml, €4
A refreshing and lightly sparkling drink with gingerbread aromas and depth of fruit flavour (peach and a little passion fruit), with added botanicals including ginseng, turmeric, chamomile and L-theanine — and a promise of giving ‘your mind clarity and your body balance, so you can relax into your best self’. Holland & Barrett, thecbdstore.ie
Trip CBD Infused Cold Brew Coffee, 15mg, 250ml, €2.50-€4
Promising ‘jitter-free energy’ with zero calories or THC, this tawny-black coffee is made with Guatemalan specialty-grade coffee brewed for 24 hours and sold free from dairy or sugar and ready to drink. Smooth and clean with bittersweet malt and roast nut notes, it’s best drunk cold. Holland & Barrett, thecbdstore.ie