There are a lot of new types of beverages on the market: hard seltzers, non-alcoholic wine, canned mocktails, and drinks with ingredients like collagen, adaptogens, and CBD. If you’re curious about drinks with labels like “CBD” and “hemp,” we’re here to help demystify them.
We had four taste testers try canned CBD drinks from a slew of brands and provide notes on their taste and how it made them feel. The testers rated each drink on a scale of 1 to 5—five being amazing, one being not amazing. Keep reading to see which brands were our favorites.
What Is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a natural chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. While THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for making you high, CBD will not affect you in that way. Some claim that CBD may help with ailments like anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Epidiolex is the first medicine with CBD to be approved by the FDA to treat epileptic seizures.
Both hemp and marijuana plants are cannabis plants, but they contain different levels of THC and CBD. Hemp plants contain large amounts of CBD and low levels of THC, while marijuana plants have low levels of CBD and high levels of THC. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis plants containing less than 0.3 percent of THC are considered hemp, which is legal in most states as long as it’s produced in accordance with all state and federal laws and regulations.
Types Of CBD
There are three types of CBD typically used in products. Full-Spectrum CBD contains all parts of the plant, including small trace amounts of THC. Broad-spectrum CBD contains all parts of the plant, but with all the THC removed. CBD isolate, or “pure CBD,” contains no other parts of the hemp plant, just CBD.
Cloud Water received the highest praise from our testers with a score of 4.2. The brand uses 25mg of CBD isolate and a proprietary infusion process which they say makes the CBD tasteless. Plus, they use organic wildflower honey as a sweetener (no stevia or erythritol), which our testers loved.
Giving off Arnold Palmer vibes, the Half Tea & Half Lemonade flavor was a favorite, with one tester noting that they’re buying a case. Another top flavor was the Watermelon & Ginger. When it comes to vibes, testers noted feeling anything from “bright and peaked” to “pretty damn chill.”
Cloud Water 12 pack, $59 at cloudwaterbrands.com
Jeng “cocktails” are inspired by the Moscow Mule, Paloma, and gin and tonic, but without the alcohol. Instead, each boasts 11 mg of broad spectrum hemp extract.
These drinks earned an average score of 4 out of 5 among our testers, who tried the Moscow Mule and Paloma flavors. Two testers said that they’d drink the Paloma as an alternative to the traditional cocktail.
But how did it make our testers feel? Some reported feeling floaty or chill, while another didn’t feel much of an effect.
Jeng 4-pack, $20 at sipjeng.com
Zolt produces several convenient drink powders for focus, immunity, balance, and sleep, each powered by different ingredients like CBD isolate, full-spectrum hemp, antioxidants, and adaptogens. We tested their Dreamy + CBD Isolate, Peak + CBD Isolate, and Even + CBD Isolate varieties.
It scored an average of 4 out of 5. Two testers tried the Honey Citrus Tea-flavored Dreamy before bed. It has 20mg CBD, 3mg melatonin, and adaptogens like ashwaganda. One tester was asleep within 20 minutes, while another felt like they were on cloud nine. While the tester didn’t like the Morning Lemon Tea flavor of the Peak packet, they did feel focused and calm, perhaps due to the combination of caffeine and CBD.
Zolt 10-pack, $32 at heyzolt.com
Available in a variety of flavors and infused with 25mg of CBD, VYBES scored an average of 3.5 out of 5 amongst our testers.
The Watermelon Kiwi was a favorite of one tester; they said they’d drink it all the time if they could. The other two flavors that stood out were the Blood Orange Lime and Passionfruit Pineapple.
VYBES 6-pack, $35.94 at idrinkvybes.com
Recess scored an average score of 3.25. They’re infused with 10 broad-spectrum hemp extracts along with ginseng, L-theanine, and lemon balm, and made with real fruit.
While the Blackberry Chai was not a favorite, testers did like the Blood Orange and the limited edition Zero-Proof “Margarita,” which is made with lime and agave. For some testers, it tasted like a “watered down margarita.”
Recess 8-pack, $39.99 at takearecess.com
Another beverage with mixed reviews was DRAM, which scored 3 out of 5. Each can of sparkling water has 25mg broad spectrum CBD from Colorado-grown hemp, in addition to different adaptogens.
To one tester the Gingergrass tasted “fresh, light, vaguely like a DS&Durga perfume,” and made them feel calm and grounded. Testers weren’t a fan of the Beauty Bubbles, which tasted like “mushroom-flavored seltzer” and also “nothing.” One tester who had the Gingergrass and Lemongrass prior to the tasting said that those are their favorite flavors.
DRAM 12-pack, $49.50 at dramapothecary.com
Scoring a 3 out of 5, Sprig had mixed reviews amongst our taste testers. Each can has 20mg of CBD. The brand’s original Citrus flavor is sweetened with cane sugar, and there are three zero sugar versions including Citrus, Melon, and Lemon Flavored Tea.
There were varying thoughts on the sugar-free Citrus flavor, which one tester said had an “overwhelming erythritol flavor,” while another said it had a “subtle sweet flavor” and was “easy to drink.”
Sprig 12-pack, $60 at drinksprig.com