How To Make Kratom Tea: 2023 Update
As long-time kratom consumers, we know how it feels when you’re getting started with kratom tea. Considering there’s a lot of mixed messaging around kratom tea, we’re here to help you get started with kratom tea, the right way. As a community that follows traditional kratom brewing practices, let’s set the stage for the rest of today’s discussion about how to make the best cup of kratom tea.
New and Improved
The tea ritual has been celebrated and treated as sacred in almost every culture it exists in. In the Japanese Shinto tradition, the art of correctly extracting tea leaves is mythologized in a ceremony which holds the movement of the body and setting as sacrosanct. In Amazonia, many plants are decocted into a psychoactive potion which demands the lifelong tutelage of a shaman to serve.
Even in the UK, a capitalist regime governed by productivity and output, there is a dedicated hour in the middle of the work day for tea. Similarly, people have drunk tea for generations for medicinal, recreational, and productivity-heightening reasons in Thailand and other regions in Southeast Asia. This post is about that Thai tea. This is “How to Make Kratom Tea!”
We wrote our first “How to Make Kratom Tea” post in late 2019. Since then, we’ve made literally thousands of kratom teas and have continued to improve our brewing techniques. Keep on reading to learn how to make kratom tea like a pro!
What is Kratom?
Kratom is the colloquial term for the Mitragyna speciosa tree and it’s leaves. M. speciosa is an evergreen tree which naturally grows in Southeast Asia. In the wild, it can grow to be over 80 meters (over 250 feet) tall and have a trunk with a circumference in excess of 4 meters (13 feet).
Kratom leaves can grow larger than a foot from tip to petiole. These leaves have had a social impact so large that it dwarfs the giant trees themselves.
Kratom is close botanical cousins with coffee, both belonging to the Rubiaceae family. It’s historic and current use also closely mimics that of coffee. People often drink kratom tea daily, and use it for its energizing effect.
However, kratom tea does not contain caffeine. Rather, kratom tea contains a myriad of different alkaloids, the most common of which is mitragynine.
Historic Kratom Traditions
Kratom has been a part of Thai life and culture for at least 350 years (if you look at the oldest temple inscriptions), and some historians speculate it has been used for over 8000 years.
In the traditional kratom context, people have rarely swallowed kratom leaf material. The most common methods of accessing the alkaloids within the leaves are by chewing leaves and spitting them out, or – you guessed it – brewing them into a tea.
Kratom is a wild-growing tree. The quickest and easiest way to feel its effects has historically been to pluck and chew the leaf whenever you come across a tree. Kratom “quids” are still a common way to consume kratom in regions where the trees grow. This practice has persisted in Thailand in spite of the widespread destruction of kratom trees in the country from 1943 to 2020, due to a law that banned kratom.
Chewing quids is most common among laborers who spend over 12 hours per day working in extreme heat. They frequently chew the leaves to stave off exhaustion and hunger, which allows them to increase their productivity.
If You Don’t Chew, Brew
Kratom tea is used for multiple purposes that go beyond what people usually chewed kratom leaves for. However, both methods for consuming kratom – brewing tea and chewing leaves – have similar physiologic effects. People drink tea as a work-enhancing tool during the day, and they also drink in the evenings, after work has concluded. Different methods for brewing (and the resulting differences in the strength of the tea) are used in each context.
In the evenings, people enjoy kratom tea for its pro-socializing effects. They use it to enjoy time spent with friends and family, just as a drink at a modern kava/kratom bar might make you (and the crowd!) start to unwind and get chatty. People also enjoy its relaxing qualities.
Fortunately, with the proper serving size, drinking kratom tea in the evenings won’t keep you up.
Kratom Serving Sizes
The only difference between the daytime and evening tea is the amount and strength of the tea that you drink.
When you have a smaller serving of kratom, the effects are energizing. On the other hand, when you have a heaping serving – equivalent to 3 or more tea bags (9 or more grams) – the effects are more calming.
There haven’t been many scientific studies on this curve of effects. Some kratom experts have hypothesized that it’s related to activity at the receptor site that mitragynine binds with.
Another hypothesis points to the lesser-known alkaloids. Researchers believe that the effects of ingesting kratom tea could change when the solution reaches a critical point in the concentration of the peripheral alkaloids.
Yet another hypothesis is that the rate at which different alkaloids dissolve into the hot water of the tea varies. Consequently, the different feelings result from the longer steep time. Some also say that the temperature of the water may contribute to the degradation of kratom alkaloids into even more powerful look-alikes.
Figuring Out What Is Right for You
Whatever may be the cause, the phenomena is well documented. In terms of 3 gram tea bags, depending on your body weight, one to three can promote an energizing sensation. Three or more tea bags can promote a relaxed body composure. Everyone is different, though, which is why we always recommend starting small to see what works best for you personally. Hopefully science catches up to the traditional knowledge soon!
We can’t spend all our time wishing for science to catch up, however. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Dr. Oliver Grundmann, Dr. Charles Veltri and the scientists at Santé laboratories to conduct a revolutionary study comparing the survey responses of kratom tea drinkers to the varying concentrations of eight different alkaloids in that tea. (Click here to learn more!)
How to Make Kratom Tea
Finally, now that we have the background information out of the way, we can dive into the how of “how to make kratom tea!”
First, you’ll need your kratom. You’ll want to shy away from micronized kratom powder. No matter how hard you try, you’ll almost always end up with a gritty tea as your end product.
Stop the sludge, brew kratom tea with a little more care, and you’ll be rewarded tenfold!
Whole Leaf, Crushed Leaf, or Kratom Tea Bags
Spring for crushed leaf kratom, or, if you can manage to get a hold of any, dried whole kratom leaves. These larger particle sizes are a heck of a lot easier to strain out, which ultimately gives you the best brewing experience.
If you’re using whole leaf kratom or bulk crushed kratom leaves, you’ll have to use specialty equipment. If you have crushed leaf kratom in tea bags, you’re almost ready to go!
With loose leaf kratom tea or whole leaf kratom you’ll need some sort of straining device. Anything will work, from a standard tea ball to a mesh vessel in a tea pot to a thermos with a metal strainer.
The tea bags can be brewed either on the stove top or in a thermos, whichever best suits your situation! If you’re brewing it in a tea pot or in a tea ball strainer, you’ll need to brew your tea over the stove. If you’re using the thermos with a strainer, you’ll only need to pour boiling water into the thermos and cap it.
Kratom Tea & Boiling Water
Once you have your kratom in a vessel and ready to be brewed, you’ll next need your hot water. Like we stated above, you can either brew your kratom on the stovetop by simmering it, or you can pour boiling water into your thermos and let it sit.
And considering how many kratom tea guides mess this up, we’ll repeat it one more time: YOU CAN MAKE KRATOM TEA WITH BOILING WATER! We have a paper coming out this year that will add some much-needed context to the myth about boiling water destroying kratom alkaloids.
The stovetop brewing method is the process which most closely resembles the traditional preparation technique. Historically, most kratom tea has been prepared by simmering a mixture of water and leaves over a fire for three or more hours (scroll down for a speedier method).
The kratom leaves have to be simmered for a long time due to the relatively low water solubility of some of the alkaloids. If you make the water acidic by adding lemon juice or another foodsafe acid, the solubility will increase. This will reduce the total brew time necessary to make a strong kratom tea. For this reason, we recommend that you add a dash of lemon juice to your stovetop brew in order to reduce the time it takes to finish.
There are a handful of reasons why you wouldn’t want to brew your kratom tea with lemon, however: if you simply do not like the taste of the lemon; if you want to follow the traditional technique exactly; if you want a lighter tea; if you’re making a latte or other creamy tea recipe; or if you want to store the pre-brewed kratom tea for a long time. If that’s the case, just omit the acid.
No Acid, No Problem
Without the acid, your tea might be slightly less strong. If that’s your preference, perfect! Leaving out the lemon is a great way to play around with smaller serving sizes, and you can always resteep your teabags. If a lighter tea isn’t the goal, just keep your kratom steeping for longer than 20 minutes. If you plan on storing your kratom tea in the refrigerator for a while, you won’t want to add an acid because mitragynine is acid-labile. This means that acid slowly breaks down the alkaloids into different, inactive molecules.
While not a big problem if you’re going to drink your tea within 24 hours, it may result in a gradual loss of potency in the tea over time.
In summary, if you are brewing your kratom on the stove top, you have two ways of going about it. The first is to add lemon and bring your pot to a boil with the kratom in it, and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
To extract a more alkaloids from your tea leaves without lemon, you’ll want to also bring your water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave it simmering for another 10-20 minutes, depending upon your desired strength. Be careful and add a bit more water if your pot starts to get low! Using a thermos? Just leave your kratom tea bags inside to steep for longer before you drink it.
Kratom Tea Thermos
We think it is important to recognize the tradition that kratom tea harkens back to, however, we shouldn’t confine ourselves to the technology of the past. The first modernization of the traditional brewing process is adding the acid.
Making the water more polar (by lowering the pH, aka, making it slightly acidic) shortens the steep time needed to make a strong cup of tea. The second modernization is using a vacuum-insulated thermos.
Thermoses are great for brewing kratom tea. They allow you to add your boiling water, kratom tea bags, and lemon, and then leave them for 20 minutes (or more) minutes to steep. Instead of constantly tending to your stove, you’re free to travel, work, or even take a nap!
The thermos works to improve the brewing process by maintaining a high temperature. High temperatures increase how quickly the kratom alkaloids migrate from the leaf matter into the water.
For more on this phenomenon, also known as the ideal gas law, check out our earlier post on the chemistry of kratom tea.
The Best Way to Make Kratom Tea
In short, we recommend you add your tea bags or whole leaf kratom to your thermos first. Then, squeeze half of a lemon (at least 1 tbsp) over the tea bags.
While the kratom is soaking in the acid, bring your water to a boil. Once your water begins boiling, immediately pour the water into your thermos and cap it. Let it sit for 20 minutes, cool, and enjoy!
When you brew with a thermos, there are a couple of ways to get more bang for your buck:
First, you can let your tea steep longer than 20 minutes. We love to brew a white vein kratom tea at night and leave it steeping in a thermos at our bedside table to enjoy first thing in the morning. Second, stick to a shorter initial brew and simply reuse your tea bags. Empty your first thermos after 20 minutes, and repeat the process above. The second tea will be slightly weaker than your first one, but it will be active nonetheless. If you are using three or more tea bags, you can even repeat this process a third time!
The result of following the above brewing instructions will leave you with plain kratom tea. It would be equivalent to a black cup of coffee or even a shot of espresso (if you make it strong enough). Now’s the time to spice it up!
When thinking about adding ingredients to your kratom tea, you can use both coffee recipes and tea recipes as your inspiration – from hot drinks, to iced teas, to tea-based mocktails. You can add some almond milk and sugar like you would in coffee, and you can also add agave and fresh fruit or herbs like a tea. You can of course pour your tea over ice as well!
Love to brew up teas from whole spices? Check out our kratom chai latte! Love making refreshing mocktails? Try kratom mock mojitos!
Kratom with other herbs, & spices
Even further, kratom tea mixes wonderfully with many herbal blends. In the morning you can add green tea and yerba mate to give you an extra energizing kick, or use chamomile and valerian root in the evenings to unwind.
One great and easy way to inject flavor into your kratom tea is by using herbal kratom tea blends. These blends are a 50/50 mixture of crushed leaf kratom and an assortment of complementary functional herbs. They are lighter on the kratom than our full-kratom bags, so you can add them to a kratom tea brew that’s already about as strong as you would like it. Adding a single herbal kratom blend tea bag can transform your tea into a medley of rich flavors.
That’s all for now! Follow some links through the blog for more in-depth information on each of the topics we’ve covered here. We hope you have a great time exploring new brew methods, recipes, and flavors.
Cheers to better brewing!