Jennifer Chapin and Amanda Jones are co-teaEOs of KIKOKO, a San Francisco based specialty tea company whose cannabis infused elixirs would better suit a Romanov’s samovar than a stoner’s bong. Almost as mesmerizing as the teas are the founders, friends who bonded in their dedication to doing good and were inspired by the needs of a girlfriend who was suffering the painful effects of cancer therapy. Jennifer and Amanda are also the founders of CYNTHIA’S SISTERS, an organization that has put more than 75 women through law school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Awesome” would be putting it more mildly than the four lovely flavors of the teas they produce, none of which taste or smell remotely like any ganja we’ve ever encountered and all of which are organic, bleach-free, carcinogenic-free and even compostable. The packaging is so beautiful you’ll want to swear it is a beauty product, but the real beauty comes from within and in this case it is Jennifer and Amanda. Amanda answered some of our most pressing questions.
Tell us a little bit about the four types of teas. How did you create each of them?
When we were founding the company, we interviewed hundreds of women to ask which issues were most problematic. Ninety percent of the time their concerns were: sleep, pain, anxiety, libido and, for a mood boost, needing an alternative to alcohol and pharmaceuticals. I, myself, was addicted to sleeping pills and Jen had seen too many people close to her struggle with opioid reliance. Hence, were born our four teas: Tranquili-Tea for sleep, Sympa-Tea for pain and anxiety, Sensuali-Tea for improving sex drive and for deepening conversation, and Positivi-Tea for a stronger mood boost. We chose cannabinoid ratios based on science and what little clinical trial results were available. Our single objective initially was to make a product that worked and that women could trust would not make them ride the crazy train.
We also did extensive research on the clinically proven medicinal benefits of various herbs before creating our blends (with a master tea blender in LA). We wanted the teas themselves to play a role in the conditions we were trying to address while still making them delicious. Jen, my business partner, is a hard woman to please when it comes to tea. She thinks all teas taste the same, so if we could please her palette then we knew we were superior. We blended the teas with the top quality, USDA-certified organic herbs on the market. They are whole plant, not tea dust or cut teas as so many brands use. We discovered there is a big difference in quality.
Which one of the teas is your favorites, or is that like asking which is your favorite child?
SympaTea is my unabashed personal favorite. I try to do it daily. I’ve replaced wine with it and I feel like a different person. My back pain is under control, I sleep better, I deal with my teenagers with less frustration (always a good thing), and frankly, I am just a kinder person. I don’t get high off this tea. It merely relaxes me and makes me more cheerful. Plus, I feel rather smugly – healthy doing it, what with the high CBD, the turmeric, ginger, and black peppercorns in there—all anti-inflammatories. It is also my favorite tasting tea.
Can you talk a little bit about the difference between CBD and THC? And what are the guidelines for how much of each to ingest? (This is a guesstimate for our readers)
This is a very difficult question to answer in any standardized way. We did our best on our website page Which Tea For Me, but the truth is everyone has an endocannabinoid system and the receptors within that are unique for each person. What we say is to start low and go slow until you find your perfect dose.
There are over 100 cannabinoids in the plant and only one gets you really high—THC. However, THC is extremely beneficial. Clinical trials show that THC, in fact, helps with pain more than CBD and CBD helps more with inflammation and anxiety. And here’s the tricky part, a little THC actually helps CBD (and all the other cannabinoids) to work more effectively. It’s titled the “entourage effect.” Hence we firmly believe that a high CBD oil from the marijuana plant with some THC in it will be more effective than hemp-derived CBD. But the one you have to watch for is how high the number is for the THC content. The higher the number, the higher you’ll get.
Can you take the best guess approach to answer the question of which tea for which symptom?
To take the edge off of pain?
We recommend 20mg of CDB a dose for real pain mixed with smaller doses of THC. Hence our Sympa-Tea is dosed with 20mg CBD and 3mg THC.
To treat inflammation on a daily basis?
See above. CBD on a daily basis is very important for inflammation but it has to remain built up in your body. And if you can, add other wonderful anti-inflammatory properties in there too, I would.plug shalessly for Sympa-Tea, with ginger, turmeric and black peppercorns (the presence of beta-caryophyllene from black peppercorns makes turmeric more bioavailable as turmeric is not easily absorbed into the human system.)
To sleep better?
CBN is the cannabinoid that makes most people drowsy. Imagine someone leaves a baggie of weed under his or her sofa for a year. If they smoked it, they would likely feel tired because the THC has degraded into a new molecule called CBN. THC also helps with sleep, but you want to make sure you drink it a couple of hours before you want to sleep. Tranquili-Tea is actually our best-selling tea.
To have better sex?
THC. There are cannabinoid receptors in the brain on the hypothalamus, which in turn orchestrate the release of sex hormones and arousal. Trust me…it works. Before you really know your dose. Drinking half a cup of Sensuali-Tea is a great place to start
To get high?
Again, it depends on the individual. However, for most people who want to get high, we recommend between 5 and 10mg of THC. 10mg is the legal limit per dose in CA, and that is too strong for most people just starting out. Our Positivi-Tea is meant for people to get high, but we’ve added 5mg of CBD to take away feelings of paranoia or discomfort that some people feel when high.
What would you say to a woman who’s never smoked weed before?
I am not personally a smoker, so not the best person to answer this. Smoking weed is a different experience from eating or drinking it. With smoking, the THC goes straight to your bloodstream and hence brain and the peak is faster and all at once. It is always good to know how much THC is in there. When you are eating or drinking it, it gets metabolized through the liver and the experience is different from smoking. It lasts longer and it is more like a plateau than a peak high. I would recommend that anyone who has never consumed cannabis before start with 3mg of THC or less. See how you feel. You can always do more, but you really cannot do less!
What would a woman who’s comfortable with weed expect from your teas?
If you mean uses cannabis frequently, then they probably want to go straight to Sensuali-Tea or Positivi-Tea for a “high” effect. However, we don’t recommend that to newbies. The effect will be felt anywhere between 10-90 minutes and will likely last 3-5 hours, with the plateau being around 1 hour.
How do you test the products?
We do both qualitative and quantitative testing. We test at an independent lab four times before it goes on the shelves. Its laborious, time consuming and expensive, but we know we have to do it to maintain the kind of product we want.
We test the cannabis oil for pesticides and microbial content. Then we test potency when we’ve mixed the oils, then we test the active ingredient that is going into the teabag, also for potency. Then we test again in the teabag. Qualitatively, we have a team of volunteers who try the product for the experience.
Where do you see Kikoko in five years?
Being the leading women’s cannabis wellness company with a line of products that are effective, high quality, consistent and all with a quirky, daring vibe. We would love to be a visible part of the movement to give women permission to take back their health from alcohol and Big Pharma. And also to consider themselves fabulous at every age, of course! I am tired of hearing women of 50 say, “I am too old for that.” No, you are not!
And because we couldn’t help ourselves, we asked a fun bonus question:
If you each had a superpower, what would it be?
Amanda: Mmmm…right now it would be to be able to read the minds of California’s cannabis legislators. Otherwise, I think it would be to stop climate change. Is that a superpower?
Jennifer: Bring peace to the world.
For now, Kikoko’s fantastic teas are available only in California : https://kikoko.com/dispensaries/