Spectator Life

Can CBD drinks help you destress? We put 7 to the test

From martinis to teas, which drinks deliver on both taste and relaxation?

With holidays cancelled and headteachers sending ominous emails warning parents to prepare for blended learning” in September, many of us have never felt more stressed.

I wont lie: trying to home-school two semi-feral boys around my work and the demands of a new baby comes close to breaking me at least once a week.

Insomnia, skin break-outs, low mood — Ive had the lot. But neither Mothers Ruin or Mothers Little Helper are viable (much as Id love to wander around in a Valium-induced haze like a 1950s housewife, GPs are twitchy about prescribing it these days).

Friends and influencers have been raving about CBD (cannabidiol) oil during lockdown — the cannabis derivative that aids sleep and relaxation, but doesnt get you high. The taste, though, has put me off in the past.

Like eating burnt undergrowth” was my husbands verdict, while for me, that pungent smell takes me straight back to my dingy first year halls of residence.

Happily, a new category of drinks is emerging out of the burgeoning CBD market. Free from cannabis leaf motifs and student connotations, they are highly drinkable.

Its far from scientific, but during the week in which I sampled the following, no one in my house was shouted at, nor did I find myself Googling family lawyers near me”…

The Food Standards Agency advises a dose of up to 70mg of CBD a day for healthy adults.  

INTUNE Grapefruit & Mint, Elderflower & Hops and Pomegranate & Ginger, 10mg CBD (£29.99 for a pack of 12 cans www.intunedrinks.com)

INTUNE Grapefruit & Mint CBD drink

Founder Hannah Glasson discovered CBD when she was having treatment for breast cancer and is “obsessed” with making CBD taste good. Her aromatic, gently-carbonated drinks are stocked by Fortnum & Mason and Planet Organic and served at Zetter Townhouse in Marylebone. They make exceptional cocktails – or mocktails. 

Gibsons Goodology carbonated drinks, 25mg CBD (starter pack of three £14.99; www.gibsonsgoodology.com)

Blended by the head barman of Dabbous, Oskar Kinberg, these gently carbonated aromatic drinks claim to have the highest percentage of CBD on the market. A delicious pick-me-up and alternative to the ubiquitous elderflower pressé for non-drinkers, or use as a mixer.

 The Tonic CBD Teas, 5mg CBD per cup (£27 for 20 bags; www.thetonictribe.com)

I enjoyed the best night’s sleep I’ve had since March after a cup of The Tonic’s Fruit Explosion tea. Substituting their green tea for my daily flat white made me feel alert, without being on edge — which I often do with coffee. Founders Kate and Michelle have spent a long time perfecting their water soluble CBD — and it shows. Consultations are available on the ‘phone (Kate talked to me for half-an-hour about my needs) or in their Hebden Bridge wellness centre. 

The London Botanists CBD syrup, 400mg CBD (£45; www.thelondonbotanists.com)

 Founded by Chloe Lawrence-Green when she struggled to find CBD products she was happy with, London Botanists use as few ingredients as possible and lab test all their products. (Recent tests on 30 products available from eBay and Amazon  found that 70% contained either no CBD or far less than was labelled.) The CBD syrup can be added to food or drinks (delicious with elderflower cordial, cucumber and a sprig of mint) or spray directly into the mouth. It’s far more palatable than most CBD oils due to its sweeter, lighter taste.

Doña Sofía Gin & Tonic, 10mg CBD, 5% ABV (RRP £2; www.dona-sofia.com)

 At £2 a can, the first CBD-infused ready-to-drink cocktail available in the UK is considerably cheaper than most CBD-infused non-alcoholic drinks on the market. It also costs less than other premium gin and tonic cans. Made with craft gin with citrus notes, it has a complex fruity flavour. There’s also a ready-to-drink CBD-infused rum and cola and vodka and lime.

OTO CBD Bitters, 2500mg CBD (£79; www.otocbd.com)

OTO CBD Bitters

Sitting firmly at the luxury end of the market, these alcohol and sugar-free CBD bitters are distilled with botanicals including bergamot, lemongrass and cinnamon. Perfect for spicing up tonics and juices and it makes a mean Old-Fashioned. The price point is punchy, but each bottle contains more than 100 servings — and remember how we felt about shelling out for Seedlip a few years ago…

 MEDA Espresso Medatini, 10mg CBD, 12.5% ABV (£27, www.medahuman.com)

It’s always good to have a reason to use my favourite gif (Jack Nicholson drinking whiskey in Easy Rider and flapping his arm like a chicken wing). MEDA’s CBD take on the espresso martini provided just the occasion. To calm things down before bed, try their cherry and hibiscus-flavoured Sleep drink, containing valerian, magnesium and 5-HTP as well as 15mg CBD (£18 for a box of six).