“I’m calling this one diarrhea in a bottle”
CBD is so trendy that it’s now trendy to write articles about its trendiness. But it’s often hard to separate the hype from what’s actually worth buying. No part of the industry highlights this more than the emerging CBD drinks sector. Adding CBD to drinks is still legally grey and scientifically dubious, and if those drinks aren’t packaged properly they could cause more harm than good. But despite these uncertainties, beverage companies and cannabis companies know an opportunity for fast cash when they see one, and the CBD drink market is booming. In fact some brands are so eager to jump on the CBDrinks bandwagon that they splash the word “hemp” over their products without actually including any as an ingredient. But as with all discussions of CBD, the presence of some bad apples and false advertisers doesn’t mean that other CBD drinks may not be worthwhile and potentially beneficial. Being the curious scientists that we are, we got our hands on a few of the CBD or “hemp infused” drinks that are readily available on Amazon. Of course we don’t actually have any lab equipment or chemistry expertise, so we can’t provide “helpful” information like the molecular makeup or efficacy of these drinks, but we do have employees that are willing to taste test some weird drinks during a morning meeting and give their impressions. We asked each taster to score the drink on a scale of one to five, and have presented the drinks in order of worst to best average score. Read on for the results of our super official study.
ECOSHOTS™ Focused Energy - Hemp Energy Blend, Average Score: -1.25
Each ECOSHOT™ (we had three total) had a similar size and shape to a typical 5-hour ENERGY®, and the mixed berry flavor coupled with the website’s claim that the product “gives you long lasting energy without the crash” also sounded reminiscent of any number of gas station energy shots. The main difference was the word “hemp” emblazoned in all caps on the front of the bottle. Each shot claims to contain 25 mg of “hemp extract”, but again, since we don’t have a lab and none of this is regulated or FDA approved, who’s to say how much, if any, CBD is actually being absorbed by the body from this drink. What we can tell you is this product pours out hot pink, and tastes like an entire Splenda packet exploded and then died on your tongue. Testers agreed that this fake-sugar-packed product tastes even worse than the notoriously nasty 5-hour ENERGY®. As one respondent put it “The 5-hour ENERGY® drink, as much as it does taste bad, you can totally shoot it and then move on with your life. I have shot a 5-hour ENERGY® before and not thrown up. But this I feel like if I shot this I would immediately throw up there’s so much sugar in it.” It's safe to say that even if taking a full one of these did make you reach some magical equilibrium of feeling hyped from the caffeine and chilled from the CBD, it would still be a hard pass from us cause we’d never drink enough of the bottle to know.
Tru Breeze Drink +Hemp, Average Score: 1
The makers of Tru Breeze in pineapple express flavor seemed more concerned with putting as many claims as possible on a small yellow bottle than with making the contents of that bottle taste good. One side of the bottle proclaimed that this drink was 5 Calories, Natural (whatever that means), Keto Friendly, Vegan (which seems obvious since it’s mostly fruit juice and spices), and Non-GMO. The other side promised 10 mg of “full spectrum hemp,” turmeric, ginger (menacingly represented by a gingerbread man with a bite taken out of its head), cayenne, and pineapple juice. Needless to say, that list of clashing flavors had us shook, and it didn’t help when the drink poured out bright yellow. Before even tasting it, one experimenter said, “I’m calling this one diarrhea in a bottle.” As one might expect, the flavor was a jumbled mix of sweet and spicy that was more upsetting than exciting. The packaging says “Directions: Drink when life gives you a dirt sandwich and you need a hug” but it really felt like Tru Breeze was the one feeding us a dirt sandwich. While the rest of us were making various “eew” noises, one taste tester bravely claimed “it’s better mixed with water,” but also said, “I don’t understand what the point of this is. It’s only 10 mg. Like this to me is just marketing. I’d rather chew a piece of gum for 10 mg.” She also pointed out that the drink is marketed as keto, a dietary movement geared towards high energy fitness, but it’s also labeled “couch blend” as though its supposed to make the drinker feel chill. All in all, pineapple express flavored Tru Breeze was a mass of contradictions, both in flavor and intended effect.
Tree Below Zero™ Sparkling Juice Beverages, Average Score: 3.1
We actually got a three pack of different flavors of these drinks, and scores varied between flavors. Regardless of flavor, the company website describes each drink as a “lightly carbonated lightly sweetened functional beverage [that] is infused with 25 mg hemp oil extract”. It also claimed that these drinks help with “better health, sleep, intimacy, creativity, refreshment and higher consciousness.” Now that’s a long list of unproven claims if I’ve ever seen one, and come on, “find your higher self” is our thing.Blueberry Raspberry Pomegranate, Average Score: 2.75
The general consensus about this flavor was that there was nothing horribly offensive about it, but it was a little sickly sweet and there was some controversy over whether it needed more or less blueberry taste. Most respondents agreed that they wouldn’t mind drinking a whole can, but they wouldn’t pay for it.
Mandarin Blood Orange, Average Score: 3
This flavor definitely had a distinct orange taste to it, coupled with a chemical-y sweetness that wasn’t necessarily bad. As one taste tester put it, “It reminds me of an Emergen-C packet. I like it.”
Cranberry Ginger, Average Score: 3.5
The cranberry ginger flavor was almost a hit. The ginger helped cut down on the chemical taste, and we all agreed that this flavor would be great with vodka in it. One taste tester helpfully supplied “I’d put vodka in all of them.”
Jane West Dark Roast CBD Coffee, Average Score: 3.25
Now we might be a little biased towards Jane West since we designed her a gorgeous glass collection and recently started carrying her travel collection, but we were excited to try her CBD coffee. According to the website, Jane West “uses all-natural processes to infuse responsibly sourced, freshly roasted coffee beans with full-spectrum CBD derived from Colorado-grown certified organic hemp.” The bag claims to contain 240 mg of CBD per bag, which comes out to 20 mg of CBD per 1 oz. of coffee. We ground the beans fresh and brewed them in a French press - and promptly served the coffee black and a little too hot. Whoops. But overall the consensus was yup, that’s coffee. There was no weird aftertaste or weedy smell or oily texture. One experimenter said “It’s not like Seattle craft coffee where you’re like ‘oh my god this should be illegal’ but I would drink it.” When the group was asked if they’d want a full serving, the answer was a resounding yes.
Oleo™ Coconut CBD Drink Mix, Average Score: 3.75
This powdered drink mix came in individual packets that are meant to be mixed into 12 ounces of water. Oleo’s website states “we infuse each serving of our recovery supplements with 25 mg of Micro-Encapsulated CBD (OleoCBD™). Our micro-encapsulated CBD process allows your body to absorb the benefits of CBD up to two times faster than typical oils and isolates.” It’s hard to say how fast the CBD absorbed for us since we had a bunch of other CBD drinks around the same time, but the powder definitely mixed easily into cold water. The resulting drink tasted pretty much like standard coconut water, although a couple of testers got a bit of a weird aftertaste. It also had the same thickness and consistency as coconut water, and the main attraction was that it mixed into liquid so easily. This was a product that could be added to almost anything to make it a little thicker and more coconut-y, or diluted as much as the user wants. That versatility is what brought the OLEO™ Coconut CBD Drink Mix into our highest ranked CBDrink position.
Although we had fun trying various CBD or “hemp infused” drinks, it was hard to forget that we didn’t really know what we were putting in our bodies, where it came from, how it had been processed, or how likely we were to actually absorb it with any noticeable effects. It’s all fun and games to gag on oversweetened drinks, but these things obviously need to be studied by people with more expertise than bored bong company bloggers. If we really want to get the most of the many benefits that the cannabis plant has to offer, we need laws and regulations that allow real research to happen. Until then, it’s just random consumers like us chugging mystery liquid and saying “yeah I think I feel kinda chill?”