The Complete Guide to Kratom Tea and Capsules


In today’s commercialized world, kratom comes in many different shapes and sizes. You are likely familiar with the run-of-the-mill micronized kratom powder offered by most vendors.  You will also commonly come across kratom extracts, usually in pill or liquid-shot varieties. Today, however, we’ll be discussing the in’s and outs of kratom tea and kratom capsules.

But before we dissect these two kratom products available today, let’s transport back three centuries ago in Thailand.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is the common name for both the plant and leaf of Mitragyna speciosa. M. speciosa is an evergreen tree found in South East Asia where it grows wild as well as on plantations.

Kratom is a botanical cousin of coffee, both being in the Rubiaceae family. Regardless of whether you use kratom tea or kratom capsules, it all comes from the same plant.

It produces a little over 40 alkaloids in it’s leaves. These alkaloids built out from an indole chemical structure. Scientists currently postulate that they evolved for the purpose of insect deterrence.

Other indole chemical structures found in nature are psilocybin, serotonin, DMT, and tryptophan. The kratom alkaloids are frequently referred to as “mitragynines,” after it’s most abundant alkaloid, mitragynine.

In the plant leaves it is common to find alkaloid in the .05%-2% ranges, with .85% being common. Some other common alkaloids are: 7-OH-Mitragynine, paynantheine, speciociliatine, mitraphylline, isorynchophylline, speciogynine, and corynoxine.

What Does it Do?

Kratom is a wonderful plant. It demonstrates different effects at different serving sizes. For tea bags, depending on your size and natural tolerance, one to three tea bags provides an energizing, uplifting effect. Students and professionals alike use it for its thought clarifying process.

The alkaloids in kratom effect several parts of the brain. These include the same spots of the brain where the “affection” chemical oxytocin and the endorphin’s of the “runner’s high” target. Namely, the mu-opioid receptors. Some kratom alkaloids also target the serotonergic system, which is unsurprising given their molecular resemblance.

What is Kratom Used For?

There is a Thai buddhist temple with an inscription describing the use of kratom to stop diarrhea. The inscription is over 350 years ago. This, to our available knowledge, is the oldest record of the use of kratom. However, it is assumed that the traditional use of kratom for diarrhea (and other purposes) predates that date.

The vast majority of the history of human use of kratom leaves centers around Thai laborers. Much like it’s coffee-relative, kratom is used to extend the productive hours of a long, hard day. It is enjoyed for its ability to dampen the heat of the sun and the exhaustion of work.

Kratom is traditionally consumed as a chewed leaf or as a steeped tea. To chew it, the farmer picks it from a tree, pulls off the stem, and rolls the leaf into a quid. The farmer will then chew on the quid for a little less than a minute before spitting it out. In less than a minute he is back to work.

At other times, kratom leaves are collected and simmered for several hours to brew a tea. The tea is then dolled out among friends and coworkers.

Infrequently, but on certain justified occasions, the whole kratom leaf is swallowed. While convenient, eating kratom powder seems to be connected to stomach discomfort for certain people. The easiest way to avoid this to use moderation. We know, groundbreaking stuff.

Kratom in the States

The most likely story for kratom’s introduction in the United States centers around the return of GI’s following serving in Vietnam. After their service, Americans landed in the US bearing leaves and stories of the pleasant effects of a Vietnamese tree. 

After the return of the GI’s, the record of kratom in the United States is quiet through most of the seventies. However, in the early 80’s there is evidence of kratom being grown in the United States, in Hawaii. It was cultivated by renowned ethnobotanist and cultural icon Terence McKenna.

It wasn’t until the early aughts that kratom became a commercially available product. Initially confined to nerdy forums, kratom soon started making an appearance throughout many retail stores. In 2016, in unison with the failed ban attempt, kratom exploded in popularity.

Today, it is estimated that there are 10-15 million kratom users in the United States. The estimated number assumes nearly daily use, of average size. That quantity is then divided by the thousands of tons of kratom that enters the US annually, resulting in this impressively large number of kratom users.

Why Powder is NOT the Way to Take Kratom

As we discussed at the beginning of this post, you mostly find kratom being sold in powder form. The decision to sell kratom as a micronized powder was not to benefit consumers. In fact, kratom powder is the result of the logistic and economic forces intrinsic to global commerce.

There is no regard for tradition, taste, or facilitating any semblance of a recognition that the powder came from a tree leaf. As a result, most kratom consumers are alienated from the full experience of kratom. In truth, it is a beautiful engagement with nature and tradition.

To understand why kratom is taken as a powder by most in the United States, we should first examine the process of how it gets here. To begin, most commercial kratom comes from large plantations of cultivated kratom in Indonesia. With a waning rubber industry, many former rubber plantations are being replaced by kratom trees. Farmers first harvest the kratom leaves. Next they wash them of any dirt. Following cleaning the leaves, the farmers lay them out to dry.

Once dried, the leaves are processed into micronized powder. Some farmers use state of the art, food grade stainless steel mills to do so. Other, smaller operations, have been caught using WWII-era coffee grinders, resulting in occasional heavy metal contamination. However, this is not the only cause for heavy metal contamination, which has become a hot button issue in the kratom community.

Other hypotheses include contaminated groundwater or soil with metal levels too high to grow safe kratom in. As a vendor of AKA cGMP certified and tested kratom, Top Tree Herbs ensures the safety of the kratom we sell.

Economic Incentive to Micronize

The largest kratom consuming country in the world, the US, is on the other side of the globe from the largest kratom producer, Indonesia. Therefore, shipping is one of the most crucial pieces in the US kratom puzzle.

For those unfamiliar with how international commercial shipping works, the primary method for exportation involves behemoth boats carrying scores of giant metal shipping containers. When it comes to kratom, micronized power is preferred over crushed leaf because three times more product can be packed into a container.

In short, crushed leaf kratom, what we use in our tea bags, takes up more space for less weight. Therefore, we pay a premium to bring you the best kratom for your brewing pleasure.

Kratom Capsules vs. Kratom Tea

Before we jump into the comparison between kratom capsules and kratom tea bags, some definitions are in order. First off, we are only discussing the differences between high quality, lab tested kratom products. Any products from outside this category vary in their consistency, and so no generalized statements can be made.

You may get some good kratom on the cheap, or you may get dangerous, contaminated kratom, or a completely different powdered leaf.

Kratom Tea (Tea Bags)

Let’s start with what kratom tea is not. Stirring micronized kratom into a cup of hot water is not tea. Putting kratom powder into a sports drink or a cup of orange juice is not kratom tea. Anything that involves actually swallowing the kratom powder, is not tea. We prefer to call these sandy, gritty beverages “kratom slurries.”

Traditionally, kratom tea is brewed from freshly picked, whole leaves. The leaves are thrown into a pot of boiling water, and steeped for around three or four hours.  The golden, fresh kratom tea is then served to a group. Many fill up used water bottles to drink the tea throughout the day.

Today, the best way to brew kratom tea is to use kratom tea bags. Good kratom tea bags are filled with premium, crushed leaf kratom. The crushed leaf is necessary, as micronized powder fits through the pores of the tea bag, resulting in a gritty tea. To assist in flavor and effect, you can also purchase kratom tea bags with supplementary herbs and essential oils.

Benefits of Kratom Tea Bags

In our humble, but well researched opinion, kratom tea bags are the best way to consume kratom. First, and most obvious, is the fact that kratom tea is the traditional preparation. A time tested tradition not only provides a history of safe use, it also demonstrates a respect for indigenous knowledge.

Secondly, in our experience, kratom tea is a bit easier on the body than eating kratom powder. And considering a large percentage of kratom consumers report occasional stomach discomfort, it’s easy to see why people are switching to kratom tea.

Another benefit is the taste. How much you enjoy taking your kratom should not be minimized. The terrible flavor and feeling of toss and wash powder or of a sandy kratom slurry is an unnecessary unpleasurable activity. Kratom tea has the flavor depth and profile of an espresso. It is rich, bitter, and earthy.

With a little love, the tea can be dressed up with natural herbs and flavors. The herbal kratom tea blends have an unforgettable taste.

Kratom Tea Bag Options

With a palatable flavor, kratom tea provides plenty of options for recipes and blends. There are dozens of recipes. We’ve written in the past about ginger-kratom sweet tea as well as kratom Arnold Palmers. We also have a whole recipe book full of delicious ways to brew your next cup!

If you’re looking for an easier way to prepare a flavored kratom tea, you’re in luck. Not only do we have naturally flavored kratom tea bags, we also have kratom tea bag blends. These blends are designed to functionally fit into your schedule.

Morning Blend

The morning blend utilizes kratom’s well known energizing effect. There is crushed leaf white vein maeng da kratom leaf, sencha green tea, yerba mate, ginkgo biloba, and lemon myrtle all spritzed with natural passion fruit essential oil flavoring. 

If you already use kratom to help you wake up in the morning, this blend is right up your alley!  Couple it with a raw leaf white vein tea bag and you’ll have a delicious beverage to add to your morning routine.

Afternoon Blend

The afternoon blend is a mellody of kratom, gotu kola, ginseng, sage, and red clover. This tea blend is a perfect afternoon pick-me up (especially when used with a few raw leaf kratom tea bags). It’s natural peach essence sweetens your brew and your mood.

Like all of the blends, it is recommended to pair with a flavored or unflavored kratom tea bag. The blends bring the flavor, the raw tea bags bring the punch.

Evening Blend

Enjoying a couple of red vein kratom tea bags emphasises the expression “red equals bed.” Red vein kratom is especially sought after for tranquil evenings that bleed into restful sleeps. We picked chamomile, valerian root, lavender, rooibos, and ginger to go with our crushed leaf red maeng da kratom leaves. 

Since the effect of kratom depends on your serving size, the evening tea blends are best enjoyed as a strong brew. Two or three red vein kratom tea bags with one of the evening blends is the magic number we’ve landed on in our test kitchen.

Kratom Tea Bags Simplicity

It is clear that kratom has entered the modern era, and the small traditional context it was constrained to has been irrevocably broadened. Kratom tea bags are the bridge between these two worlds.

Simple, delicious, and a vast upgrade from tossing and washing powdered leaf matter.

To brew kratom tea, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Add your desired amount of kratom tea bags to a thermos. If you don’t have a thermos, use a well insulated mug or vessel to retain as much of the heat as possible. Another option is to follow all of the directions while simmering in a pot on the stove.
  2. Squeeze lemon juice over your tea bags. Half a lemon or more will do depending on your tastes.
  3. Pour boiling water over your tea bags and lemon juice.
  4. If using a thermos, cap and let steep for 20 minutes. If you’re using an open mug, you may need to reheat your tea before the 20 minutes is up to maintain the needed heat. Likewise, if using a pot on a stove, bring the boiling down to a simmer and let steep for the 20 minutes.

And that’s that! Enjoy your hot kratom tea!  It is also delicious over ice. As you can tell from the instructions, the brewing process is much simpler when you have a thermos. If you need one, head on over to our teaware shop where we take a loss on our sales of them to empower you to make the best kratom tea possible!

The Place for Kratom Tea Bags in Normal Life

Last but not least, we’ll conclude our final positive note about kratom tea in regards to its ability to change the world. Maybe saying it will change the world is a stretch, but we believe that by getting more people to use kratom in accordance with its tradition will bring a greater respect to the plant. Furthermore, using kratom tea bags is an act of kratom normalization. It helps destigmatize the leaf that millions of people use daily.

Drinking kratom should be as fun, delicious, functional, and as easy as having a coffee. When that happens we’ll know that kratom has finally shed its stigma. No one will bat an eye at your for brewing a tea, which is unfortunately not the case for spoon feeding yourself green powder.

Kratom Capsules Overview

Now that we’ve examined kratom tea bags, let’s examine another available option. Kratom capsules are gelatin or vegetable cellulose capsules filled with micronized kratom powder. This formulation is essentially an improvement on the toss and wash method. You still have to swallow powder, but it improves the experience immensely. Essentially, by removing the poor taste factor all together.

Capsules deliver the kratom to your gut without having to experience the unpleasant feeling of swallowing loose powder. Because of this bypass, the taste of kratom capsules is completely neutral. Whereas this is an improvement of part of the toss and wash method, it still retains the undesirable quality of having leaf powder in your stomach.

While we prefer staying with the traditional preparations that don’t involve swallowing the powder, on occasions, like when we’re traveling or when we don’t have a way to boil water, we’ll use kratom capsules.The key to use moderation and understand the pros and cons.

Kratom Capsules Convenience

Kratom capsules really have one thing going for them that justify their use above kratom tea bags — bare minimum preparation. Swallowing kratom powder for extended periods of time presents all sorts of opportunities for a less than ideal experience. But done correctly, there are absolutely occasions where kratom capsules are the right move.

For example, airports prohibit bringing water through security. Unless you want to ask the terminal Starbucks for some boiling water and lemon to add to your travel thermos, you won’t be able to enjoy your kratom until you touch back down. But if you pack kratom capsules, you’re able to quickly and conveniently swallow them next to a water fountain.

Considerations When Buying Kratom Capsules

Aside from contradicting the traditional kratom practice, one of the reasons we stopped swallowing kratom powder was due to the risk of contaminated kratom. While we think that much of the fuss about contaminated kratom is hyped up by the FDA as part of their campaign against kratom, there is some truth to the matter. 

The lowest price tends to win the most customers since kratom powder is treated as a commodity on the market. This has led to a brutally competitive market, where some vendors insist of racing to the bottom. In order to supply kratom at the prices demanded, some kratom farmers have been mixing in other, random leaves from the forest to increase the weight of what they are selling. This means that a cheap or non-AKA cGMP certified kratom product could contain a green powder that’s not 100% kratom!

Another issue of swallowing kratom powder that does not exist with kratom tea is the risk of bacterial contamination. Since kratom tea uses boiling water, there is a built in decontamination process. (Although Top Tree Herbs ensures that there are no contaminants in our tea bags regardless.)

Some of the cheaper kratom products are grown in regions where the leaves are processed and washed from a river that has raw sewage flowing through it. As a result, there have been accounts of E. coli contamination in cheap kratom products.

COMING SOON: Kratom Capsules

We want to take a second to explain why we’re going to start offering kratom capsules. If you’re an old Top Tree Herbs customer, or if you have the perception that we’re just a tea company, the fact that we’re offering kratom capsules may surprise you.

We went back and forth endlessly before we made the decision to offer kratom capsules. We still see ourselves as the kratom tea bag company. However, we’re committed to promoting healthy use of kratom just as much as we’re interested in returning the traditional knowledge to the plant.

There are lingering issues in the kratom industry regarding safety and cleanliness, and not everyone wants kratom tea bags. With this being the case, we decided to go ahead and offer kratom capsules that go through the same amount of rigorous testing as our kratom tea bags. 

We test each batch of kratom multiple times to ensure that it has no heavy metal or biological contamination.

The kratom comes from well compensated farmers who, as a result, are able to have upward socioeconomic mobility. This good relationship with the farmers ensures that we are using only 100% pure, premium kratom leaf.

Striving to bring a safe product to the kratom market isn’t our only reason for offering kratom capsules. We first broached the idea when co-founder Sam Weber found himself in the exact same airport situation previously described. After plenty of discussion, we decided to offer vegan kratom capsules.

Kratom Capsules vs. Kratom Tea Bags Final Thoughts

After hearing the qualities of both kratom capsules and kratom tea bags, which do you think is best for you?  

Let’s recap some of our main points.

Kratom Tea Bags

  • Tea bags allow for the traditional preparation and consumption of kratom tea.
  • Tea bags reduce the need to consume insoluble plant fiber
  • Boiling water can be used in a decontamination process (we still recommend starting with lab-tested kratom)
  • Tea bags make a delicious brew.
  • Kratom tea bags can come with other herbs for enhanced flavor and effect.
  • The tea formulation helps normalize the consumption of kratom.
  • Since you don’t have to digest powder, you feel the effects of kratom tea faster.

Kratom Capsules

  • Kratom capsules are convenient.
  • Capsules are better than tossing and washing powder.
  • You are still swallowing kratom powder, so care must be taken not to overconsume.
  • Kratom capsules have zero taste.
  • When ordered from a reputable vendor, capsules contain pure, lab tested kratom.

The Verdict?

In essence, we believe that kratom tea should be at the center of your kratom ritual. It has survived the test of time and is the preferred traditional preparation. It is delicious, and we see it no differently than drinking a cup of coffee.

Yet sometimes a caffeine pill beats a delicious cup of joe. And that’s how we see kratom capsules. Kratom capsules should only be taken if you are certain that they contain lab test, clean kratom. Keeping that in mind, there are times when the setting rules out the possibility of making a tea. And that’s when kratom capsules are the right move.

We hope you found this guide to kratom tea and kratom capsules helpful!

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