Different Strains of Kratom

Best Kratom Strain: How to Pick the Right One

One of the most intimidating aspects of kratom, when you are first getting into it, is the wide variety of options. There are many kratom strains, and they are all somewhat different. So what are the best kratom strains? How do you pick the right one?

  1. Are kratom strains real?
  2. How kratom strains and vein colors are determined
  3. Effects of kratom strains
  4. Common kratom strain names
  5. Best kratom strains based on effects
  6. The best strains are no strains!
  7. How to pick the best kratom strains

The Main Things You Should Know Before Trying to Find the Best Kratom Strain

These are some of the main things that you should keep in mind when choosing between various kratom strains:

  1. Kratom strain origin stories are often untrue.

    Kratom vendors may claim that certain strains come from big or small leaves, grafted trees, and specific countries, but this is frequently a myth. Kratom companies often choose kratom strain names randomly (or based on their alkaloid profile if they have their kratom lab-tested).

  2. There isn’t just one single best kratom strain.

    The best strain is different for different people and on different occasions.

  3. Generally, white vein kratom strains are energizing, red vein kratom strains are relaxing, and green vein kratom strains provide intermediate effects between white and red.

    Other kratom strains, like those in the yellow or gold vein categories, are often a mix of red, white, and green, and each vendor may manufacture them differently.

  4. The effects of strains are related to the alkaloid profile/serving size.

    Smaller servings of kratom tea are typically energizing, whereas larger servings are typically relaxing and relieving. This is true regardless of the vein color or strain, and comes down to the amount of different alkaloids and other compounds in the leaves that you ingest.

  5. Kratom strain effects are also greatly influenced by marketing.

    To find the best kratom strain for you, don’t just follow what a company claims about its strains’ origins. Instead, pick a reputable company that lab tests their kratom so you know what’s in it. Test out a few varieties and preparation methods to form your own opinion on what works and what doesn’t.

Advice for Picking the Best Strains

Because there’s a lot of misinformation circulating about kratom strains, it’s important to carefully research the kratom company you choose to buy from. Contact them if needed to make sure they aren’t fabricating stories about their strains.

What if the company you’re interested in doesn’t provide the lab results for each kratom strain on their website? You can always call or email them to ask for the kratom Certificate of Analysis.

Related: Kratom Brands to Avoid: How to Pick the Best Kratom Vendor

So, whether you want to make kratom tea or you’re choosing from the other types of kratom products, you’ll find the info on kratom strains you need below to decide which variety is best for you.

Are Kratom Strains Real?

It’s time to do a little bit of myth-busting. You may want to skip ahead to descriptions of various kratom strains. However, it’s really important to first understand how kratom products actually receive their strain names.

Spoiler alert: it’s often a pretty misleading and dishonest process.

While it may take longer to read through this information, it’ll in helping you pick the best kratom strains from the best vendors.

We alluded to the myths surrounding kratom strains in the list above. Many people claim that kratom strains are made from different types of kratom leaves or different types of trees in various Southeast Asian countries. Yet, except in the case of a few small kratom companies, this is largely untrue.

How Kratom Strains and Vein Colors are Determined

Each batch of kratom differs slightly based on environmental factors (like soil content or season). Farmers also intentionally alter batches during the fermentation and drying processes.

The “vein color” is mainly distinguished by the way the leaves are dried and fermented. It isn’t actually named for any difference in the central vein of the kratom leaves that each strain comes from.

The “strain” (like Borneo, Bali, or Java) is often supposed to denote where the kratom was grown. However, as the industry has grown, these location-specific strain names have been applied very liberally. Today, a vast majority of kratom in the United States comes from one region in the Indonesian territory on the island of Borneo.

In fact, farmers or companies that import kratom may mix two or more vein colors in varying proportions to make particular strains. Products may be called Malay or Java kratom even if the leaves came from the island of Borneo.

Exposing the Myth Helps Explain Why Strains are So Inconsistent

The varying environmental conditions and processing methods described above affect the concentrations of the compounds found in the final kratom products, including their alkaloids. Companies haven’t yet standardized the growing and manufacturing processes. Thus, most strains are inconsistent over time and vary greatly from company to company.

But why do we still get different effects from different kratom strains? And how do you decide which is the best kratom strain for you?

Read on to understand what the strongest strains are, as well as how to understand the relationship between the kratom alkaloids and their effects.

Effects of Kratom Strains

Kratom strains do not tell you too much about what effects to expect from your kratom. Vein color is a bit more informative. However, this depends on the brand. As we already noted, some companies will mix multiple vein colors together to make strains. A kratom product with a green label may be more energizing or more relaxing depending on how it is mixed, and what serving size you consume.

Generally speaking, the white veins are energizing, the green veins are balancing and chilling, and the red veins are the heaviest hitters for bodily effects and are great as a nighttime tea. This is where the generalities end, however.

Remember, everyone is different. It’s not just the strain of kratom that impacts how you’ll feel after consuming kratom. It’s also the serving size, your experience level, your physiology, and other contextual factors.

Different Effects from the Same Kratom Strain

You can get different effects from the same batch of kratom by consuming a different amount of it. But what if you consume the same amount of the same kratom strain from the same vendor, and you suddenly start to notice different effects from it?

Related: How Much Kratom Should You Take? Kratom Serving Sizes

The amount of active compounds found in kratom leaves can vary based on the season or even the time of day the leaves are harvested. Kratom vendors can’t ensure that a new batch of kratom has the exact same alkaloid profile as a previous batch. They may still choose to give it the same strain name, however.

That means vendors are marketing batches of kratom with different contents as the same strain. How do you take an educated guess at what effect a kratom strain will have? Once you find the best kratom strains that have the right effects for you, will you have to start searching all over again after that batch is sold out?

Check the Alkaloid Profile to Gain Insight on Strain Effects

One way to better understand the effects of your kratom? Look at a comprehensive alkaloid analysis of the product. Scientifically speaking, the difference in the effects from different strains of kratom is the result of a variation in the kratom alkaloids. It may also be a result of kratom industry marketing.

Related: The Science Behind Different Strains of Kratom: Exposing Lies

That’s why we provide a comprehensive alkaloid panel for all of our kratom teas and other kratom products. We firmly believe that you need to know more than just the mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine concentrations to understand the feeling of a strain.

What is the Best Kratom Strain?

Based on everything we’ve explained above, we’d argue that there are no “best kratom strains” for a few reasons:

  1. Stories of kratom strain variations are largely mythological.

    They’re used as marketing tools to keep consumers interested.

  2. Strains vary from company to company and batch to batch.

    For instance, while White Maeng Da and Red Bali are the best kratom strain from one particular brand, they may not be the best kratom strains from another brand.

  3. “Best” is subjective.

    Not everyone has the same reason for consuming kratom—kratom is good for a variety of purposes, so there may be multiple “best” kratom strains, each of which is best in a particular situation.

  4. Some of the best kratom products don’t have strain names.

    Because of all the misinformation surrounding strains, Top Tree actually stopped using strain names to distinguish their products. We use the same type of tea as we did when we used strain names, but came up with our own system to break free of the deceptive marketing practices that other companies use.

Though we don’t think there is a true best kratom strain, we know you might want some more concrete recommendations.

Below are a few common strain names (and Top Tree strain alternatives). We’ll explain what each name typically means about a particular batch of kratom.

The composition of each kratom strain may vary from vendor to vendor, so keep that in mind when switching to a new kratom vendor or switching between the different forms of kratom products that are labeled with the same strain name.

Common Kratom Strain Names & Alternatives

1. Maeng Da Kratom Strain

  • Meaning: “Maeng da” is a Thai slang term that loosely translates to “pimp grade” or “the best.” It also refers to a large edible water bug native to Thailand. Unusual definitions aside, plenty of people consider Maeng Da to be their favorite kratom strain.
  • Alkaloid Profile: Companies that base their kratom strains on lab-testing results typically use the name Maeng Da for their kratom batches with the highest percentage of mitragynine. However, some companies may randomly assign this name to products because they know consumers desire it.
  • Effects: Known as the strongest strain for each vein color. Effects differ based on vein color and brand. Keep in mind that stronger isn’t the same as better when it comes to kratom. Think about it like this: sometimes, a mild cup of coffee is preferable to an espresso.

White Vein Kratom Tea Bag Ingredients

2. Uplift Kratom

  • Meaning: Uplift is not a strain name— this is Top Tree’s name for white vein kratom tea (pictured above).
  • Alkaloids: Typically has a high mitragynine concentration, over 1.2%.
  • Effects: Many people find it energizing, akin to coffee or black tea. Many people drink Uplift kratom tea as a pre-workout or before a long study session.

3. Super Kratom Strain / Elephant Kratom Strain

  • Meaning: Many brands claim their Elephant kratom batches are made by harvesting the largest, most mature leaves on kratom trees—the ones that look like elephant ears. Based on the physical and temporal demands of kratom farming, it’s unlikely that this is true.
  • Alkaloids: Unclear. Even if it were true that these strains come from the largest leaves, the alkaloid profile would still differ based on the drying and fermenting processes.
  • Effects: Likely depends upon the vein color.

4. Balance Kratom

  • Meaning: Balance is also not a strain name—this is Top Tree’s name for green vein kratom teas.
  • Alkaloids: Typically has the highest mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine concentration of the kratom tea options, over 1.2%.
  • Effects: Many people find green vein kratom tea varieties to be motivating, and drink Balance kratom tea at work or when they might get tired in the middle of the day. That’s why we blended bright flavors like peach and mango to make Tulsi Balance, our green vein kratom tea blend.

Buy Green Kratom Tea Bags - Balance

5. Horn Kratom Strain

  • Meaning: Most brands claim their horn batches are made with “spiky” leaves instead of smooth ones. (In more scientific terms, these are leaves with a dentate or serrate margin instead of the typical entire margin). Many people have revealed the fact that this is not the actual source for horn strains.
  • Alkaloids: Some people say horn strains have lower alkaloid concentrations, but they may vary. Plus, even if it were true that these strains come from spiky leaves, the alkaloid profile would still differ based on the drying and fermenting processes.
  • Effects: Likely depends upon the vein color. Some companies claim these are great for relaxing, and don’t make you as jittery as other strains might.

6. Unwind Kratom

  • Meaning: Unwind is Top Tree’s name for red vein kratom teas.
  • Alkaloids: Typically has lower mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine concentrations than other vein color options.
  • Effects: When people look for kratom because they want the body-centered effects, we usually recommend Unwind. Many people find it relieving; it’s a great choice when recovering from a tough workout. For some people it can still be slightly energizing in small serving sizes, so you may prefer a larger serving size if you are drinking Unwind to rest. That’s why we pair it with chamomile and other soothing herbs in Chai Unwind. our kratom tea and masala chai blend.

Best Kratom Strain Based on Effects

As we’ve mentioned, there isn’t just one best kratom strain for all occasions. You may find that you like one strain best for the morning in place of a cup of coffee, and there’s another strain you like best for post-work relaxation.

So here are some kratom strains that are known for providing particular effects. Keep in mind that that these are generalities. The descriptions below aren’t accurate for every brand and every batch.

1. Best Energizing Kratom Strains

White vein kratom strains, along with a few green vein strains, tend to be the most energizing kratom options. Here’s a list of some popular kratom strains for motivation:

  1. White Maeng Da

    Most vendors’ White Maeng Da kratom products (if they name them based on the alkaloid profile) are tried-and-true energizing kratom products.

  2. White Thai

    White Thai (and white vein kratom in general) can be an excellent choice if you’re looking to replace coffee with kratom. This strain gets its name from Thailand, which has recently legalized kratom after many decades of prohibition.

  3. White Borneo

    White Borneo takes its strain name from Borneo, the third-largest island in the world and the largest island in Asia.

2. Best Relaxing Kratom Strains

Relaxing strains are typically in the red vein category. There are a number of different kratom strains for relaxation. Here are some of the most popular:

  1. Red Bali

    Perhaps the most popular kratom strain of all time, Red Bali kratom is known for its strong alkaloid profile that provides relaxing effects.

  2. Red Maeng Da

    Red Maeng Da certainly rivals Red Bali in terms of popularity. This well-known red option typically makes for a great calming tea for evenings or restful afternoons.

  3. Red Dragon

    Red Dragon is one of the less-common kratom strains on the list. The “dragon” strain name’s origins are uncertain.

3. Best Balanced Kratom Strains

Both experienced kratom consumers and beginners enjoy green vein kratom strains for their balanced properties. Consumers enjoy how it suits their afternoon pick-me-up needs while helping them retain their chill mindset.

If you’re looking to stop consuming caffeine in the afternoon, these strains could be good replacements. These are some very popular ones:

  1. Super Green Malay Kratom Strain

    The renowned balancing properties of Super Green Malay have made the strain a classic kratom variety. It’s great for adding a boost of mindfulness, motivation, and optimism to your day. Its name is inspired by Malaysia, one of the countries where kratom grows naturally, as well as the vivid green color of the leaves that go into making it.

  2. Green Maeng Da Kratom Strain

    Similar to other Maeng Da strains, Green Maeng Da is a poster child for the green vein category. It typically has a higher alkaloid content than other green vein strains.

  3. Green Bali

    Green Bali kratom is known to be versatile—the best strain to consume any time of day.

The Best Kratom Strain is Really No Strain At All

It may come as no surprise that we’re fed up with using kratom strains for marketing purposes.

Instead, we’ve opted to do something different. We created a golden standard of white, green, and red vein kratom options. We’ve named them according to their optimal effect profile: Uplift for white vein, Balance for green, and Unwind for red.

You’ll find no made-up stories about grafting trees or picking giant elephant leaves here.

Why Choose Strainless Kratom Tea Over Classic Kratom Strains?

If you want to buy a product that embodies transparency, ethics, and uniqueness, try strain-free kratom.

For people who are used to strains, this might seem odd. How do you get specific effects if you only have one variety per vein color? Well, you can adapt one particular variety of kratom tea to serve various purposed by adjusting the strength or the amount that you drink.

That’s partly why we’ve stopped using strain names. They’re overly confusing, largely fabricated, and aren’t the end-all-be-all of determining what your kratom’s effects will be.

You can find out more about our strainless kratom tea from our kratom tea menu.

Use Reviews and Alkaloid Profiles to Help Pick the Best Kratom Strain

Kratom strains are a not-so-scientific code that hasn’t been fully cracked yet. Still, there are a couple of ways to get around the inconsistencies we detailed above.

First off, we recommend you check the alkaloid content of your tea if it’s available. Alkaloid profiles are not frequently made publicly available in the kratom industry. For example, when we researched the best trainwreck kratom options, we found that only one brand published its lab testing results out of the 20+ brands we reviewed.

Supposedly, some companies don’t publish them due to safety concerns. If alkaloid profiles are not available, you can contact the brand to get more information. Additionally, you can look to recent reviews about a certain batch of a kratom strain written by people who have tried it. Reviews can be helpful and informative, but take those anecdotal accounts with a grain of salt. Everyone’s experience is different.

What’s the Best Way to Consume Your Kratom Once You’ve Picked the Right Strain?

Now that we’ve run through the differences in kratom strain selections, let’s discuss how factors aside from the strain may contribute to the effects you receive.

Keep in mind, this information is not intended to be nor should it be interpreted as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding serving sizes and effects. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you’ve read here.

Iced Chai Relaxing Red Vein Blend

Your Serving Size Can Affect Your Strain Experience

First, serving size plays a big role. Smaller servings of kratom tea are typically energizing, while larger servings of kratom tea are typically relieving and relaxing.

If you feel like a kratom strain is too strong or too energizing you could try carefully lowering or increasing the serving size. Since every batch/strain has a different concentration of active compounds, you may need to consume different serving sizes from different batches.

In fact, you may find that the best kratom strain is any ol’ kratom strain with the right serving size.

Second, the context you consume your kratom in is important. For instance, do you have a full stomach or an empty stomach? Did you recently eat a grapefruit? Have you been drinking enough water? Are you off to work, heading to the climbing gym, or curling up on the couch? It probably isn’t too surprising that the same amount of the same strain of kratom can have different perceived effects based on these circumstances.

Related: What’s the best time of day to drink kratom tea?

So if you try a strain and don’t like it, think about the context you tried it in. If you hadn’t eaten at all or hadn’t stayed hydrated before trying it, maybe give it another try after eating and drinking a glass of water.

Mix and Match Strains

When choosing which kratom tea you’d like, you can always mix and match. Can’t decide between a green or a red vein? Brew an Unwind tea bag with a Balance tea bag. (If you typically only brew with one tea bag, just brew for a shorter period. Alternatively, drink half of your tea at a time.)

Remember, everyone responds to kratom differently. The best way to find out what kratom strain is best for you in different situations? Experiment with different varieties over time.

Stay Vigilant and Consume Mindfully

Overall, when searching for the best kratom strain, we really encourage you to try a few options and figure out what’s best for you. Don’t be fooled by marketing tactics, and be aware of how serving size and context play a role in how much you like a particular strain.

Cheers to better brewing (and easier strain-selecting) everyone.

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Soren Shade
Soren Shade is the Founder and CEO of Top Tree Herbs. He was the producer for Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, and continues to produce the Hamilton Morris Podcast. He writes with a holistic look at natural and synthetic pharmacology, traditions-of-use, and a love for freedom of consciousness. You can find Soren rock climbing or advocating for sensible drug reform and anti-prohibition.

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