Even a teetotaler would tip a cup to organic, boutique teas infused with microdoses of marijuana. That’s the idea behind a line of luxury cannabis teas out of Emeryville called Kikoko that put the ‘tea’ in THC. Founded by a pair of globe-trotting East Bay women in 2015, Kikoko has created tremendous buzz as of late with its famed High Tea parties that are occasions for wide-brim hats, floral dresses and mixing a spoonful of sugar with the medicine.
Women in vintage dresses and fascinator hats may not seem your typical marijuana demographic, but Kikoko’s founders tell Nosh they feel women are underserved in the infused cannabis product industry. While its teas are perfectly drinkable for anyone across the gender spectrum, Kikoko’s tagline is “I’ll have what she’s having” and its teas are formulated with women’s health in mind.
Kikoko offers a line of four different teas, each designed to put you in a certain frame of mind. Its peppermint and green tea mood enhancer called Positivi-Tea is the only one that contains caffeine. Sympa-Tea is a pain and anxiety suppressant produced with ginger and turmeric. A sleepy sedative called Tranquili-Tea mixes chamomile and valerian root with the anti-insomnia cannabinoid CBN, and another called Sensuali-Tea is formulated with rose petals and hibiscus to arouse the libido.
“Our teas have cannabinoid ratios that are specifically formulated for sleep, pain, mood and sex,” Kikoko co-founder Amanda Jones told Nosh. “They range from very low dose to the legal limit of 10 milligrams.”
The teas don’t all go up to the new California maximum of 10 milligrams of THC for a single serving of a cannabis-infused beverage or edible (only Positivi-Tea does). The sexytime blend, Sensuali-Tea, packs only seven milligrams of the psychoactive ingredient, while Sympa-Tea and Tranquili-Tea are more infused with CBD — the non-psychoactive compound that doesn’t get you high and is more of pain reliever and muscle relaxant.
Jones and co-founder Jennifer Chapin (a Cal grad with a degree in communications and business) went to great lengths to ensure their products didn’t taste or smell like ganja, and that the flavor of the teas hold up with the world’s finest. The cannabis in each tea is outdoor marijuana grown in Mendocino, the herbal ingredients are all domestically sourced and even their tea bags and strings are bleachless, compostable and carcinogen-free.
“[The teas] are all organic, and we use synergistic healing herbs in the blends,” Jones said. “Frankly, our teas are some of the best-tasting on the market. We spent two years and [hired] three science teams to make sure our teas are soluble in water and are delicious with no bitterness or weedy taste.”
In fact, there is very little weedy taste about anything Kikoko does, down to its branding and aesthetic. A look at the company’s Instagram page gives little indication that this is your typical cannabis company. Instead, you mostly see pictures of porcelain teacups, fancy summer frocks and the trappings of high society seen at Kikoko’s High Tea parties that have earned glowing coverage from local and national media outlets.
“High Tea parties have been hugely successful,” Jones told us. “We can no longer legally host them ourselves, but other people can host their own and serve tea to their friends, so they are taking off as a fun event to have with friends.”
It’s ironic that these High Tea functions took off right as new regulations kicked in designed to discourage such things. It’s still legal to hold cannabis events in California, but a public event at which cannabis is consumed now requires navigating mountains of red tape, licensing and regulatory compliance issues. Private events held in individual residences, though, are legally allowed to serve cannabis to guests — provided, of course, that the guests are all 21 or over.
Kikoko’s High Tea parties recently landed a multi-page spread in Oprah magazine and, unsurprisingly, coverage in High Times magazine. But Jones and Chapin never intended to start a trend. “We started [High Teas] as a sort of focus group to test the product on friends and to educate women on what a healthy alternative cannabis, at low doses, can be to pills and alcohol,” Jones said.
Now that their idea has taken off, the creators have found ways to inspire and encourage people to try it on their own. “We recently launched a how-to page on our website that shows people how to host their own gorgeous High Tea party, with recipes, DIY tea trays and hat, fashion, and flower inspiration.”
These handy High Tea guidelines also include tips on decorating, dosing and handling the guest who may overimbibe.
“More and more people are hosting their own [parties],” said Jones. “We get requests almost every day to attend one, but we can’t be at all of them, so we are thrilled people are doing it themselves and sending us their photos.”
Kikoko teas are available at a number of Bay Area dispensaries and delivery services, including CBCB in Berkeley. They are sold in handsome tins of ten sachets or in single-serve tea bags. Save for the term “medical cannabis” on the label, the packages look like something you’d find on the shelves at Whole Foods.
“We are not for stoners,” Jones said. “We are the wellness brand for the healthy lifestyle user. Cannabis and the human endocannabinoid system regulate mood, appetite, sex, among other things.”
What started as tea for two women has become a tempest in a — well, you know. But Kikoko has succeeded in becoming an elegant brand for the refined dabbler, particularly if smoking is not your cup of tea.