Jonathan Eppers, the founder of one of the buzziest CBD-infused drinks on the market, Vybes, described the appeal of CBD drinks as follows (we’re paraphrasing here): rather than taking CBD like you would a medicine, why not put it in something that you consume every day? Something flavorful, fun, AND healthy?
This is the logic behind CBD drinks: get your dose of CBD in a uniquely tasty (and often sexy) form. That’s right, great taste and high-quality ingredients aside, CBD drink purveyors often treat their packaging like minimalist art installations, each more chic than the last.
This sexiness and premium-quality comes at a cost: these drinks often have a staggering pricetag, regularly running in the $8-10 range for a 15-25mg dose of CBD. In addition, most high-end CBD drink brands are currently only available in retail in select big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Austin (though most can be purchased online and ship to all 50 states).
So who exactly are CBD drinks meant for? How do they compare to other forms of consumption? How much bang do you get for your buck?
We answer all your questions about CBD drinks in this guide, and then give you a list of the top brands that we’ve reviewed in-depth and where to find them.
What Are CBD Drinks?
CBD-infused drinks are simply beverages with a certain dosage of CBD oil mixed in during production. Typically, these drinks contain between 10mg-25mg of CBD.
You can now find a wide range of CBD-infused drinks, including:
- Sparkling water
How CBD Drinks Measure Up to Other Forms of Consumption
Though CBD dosage varies by beverage, the 10-25mg norm is in line with the recommended dosage from many CBD oil and tincture producers, so CBD drinks are similar in potency to an oil or tincture.
And before we dive into it let’s reiterate: CBD drinks are a damn sexy way to get your CBD (just look at the bottle designs at the bottom of the page).
Your Body Absorbs Relatively Little of the CBD in an Infused Drink
However, there’s a problem in terms of potency: cannabinoids, you see, are insoluble in water, which means that they don’t easily mix into a beverage. Furthermore, orally consumed CBD already has very poor bioavailability: as little as 4% of the CBD that you consume orally can actually enter your bloodstream (the rest is broken down by acids in the digestive tract and liver enzymes).
CBD drink companies have solved the insolubility problem using unique emulsification methods: essentially, adding an emulsifier that binds the CBD molecules to water so the CBD oil doesn’t separate from the beverage. .
Still, compared to vaping or smoking CBD (which has the highest absorption rate at 31%) — or even tinctures which you hold under your tongue so the CBD is absorbed by the mucus membranes in the mouth — your body will absorb less of the CBD in an infused drink.
However, the effects of orally consumed CBD (as with CBD drinks) will last longer, and it will stay in your system longer as well.
Who Are CBD Drinks Best For?
Considering that CBD drinks are not the best-absorbed method of CBD consumption, we recommend a tincture or vaping/smoking your CBD for maximum therapeutic benefit. That being said, people consume CBD for countless different reasons; not everyone is looking for the dankest dank, and these are the people best suited to CBD drinks:
- Those trying CBD for the first time who just wants to get a feel for the experience.
- Those looking to bolster their current oil, gel, or vaping regimen with a more fun consumption experience.
- Those who love their coffee, sparkling water, teas, or juice drinks as much as their CBD, and want to combine the two experiences.
How to Find the Best CBD Drinks — 3 Tips
Before we list our favorite brands, here are a few tips on how to judge CBD products for yourself.
#1 Choose full-spectrum
The first consideration you should make is whether the CBD is full-spectrum or isolate. The complex variety of terpenes and cannabinoids found in full-spectrum products can potentially enhance the effects and medicinal value of CBD.
#2 Buy an organic drink
CBD drinks are typically derived from hemp, and the use of fertilizers and chemicals may reduce the nutritional value and bioavailability of the cannabinoids in hemp. Generally speaking, organic plants are healthier plants, and for maximum therapeutic benefit you want CBD from a healthy plant.
#3 Research the brand
The more transparent the brand is about how they source and extract their hemp, the more you can trust their drink is labelled accurately. Look for lab-test results to confirm CBD content as well.
5 Best CBD Drink Brands
We’ve reviewed many of the top CBD drink brands in the nation and narrowed it down to five after doing some digging on each brand.
We judged by the following criteria:
- Does it taste good?
- Are the ingredients high quality? (is the drink organic?)
- Amount/quality of CBD (is it full-spectrum? from organic hemp? how much CBD per $)
- Does the drink provide effective relief? (from anxiety or other symptoms)
1. mKombucha: 9.2/10
mKombucha is a rare bird (currently only available in select cities in California and Arizona) but we love everything about this brand.
First, infusing everyone’s favorite health drink (kombucha) with CBD is downright genius. Second, this kombucha tastes AMAZING. Third, they use only the highest quality health-promoting ingredients (full-spectrum CBD from organically grown hemp, organic currants, organic yerba mate and green tea). Fourth, the bottle design is gorgeous.
The only downsides: these drinks contain 15mg of CBD, which isn’t the highest dosage, and they cost $8.50 each (which is a very hefty price for the dosage). But if you care about quality, you won’t do better than mKombucha.
Where to Buy mKombucha
mKombucha is still a new kind on the block and only available in retail at certain locations, including:
- Sidewalk Juice, Address: 3100 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
- Toasted and Roasted in LA (on tap), Address: 7311 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
- Revolution Roasters (on tap), Address: 1836 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054
- Valley Farm Market, Address: 9040 Campo Rd, Spring Valley, CA 91977
- Del Mar Farmer’s Market (Saturday 1:00-4:00 PM), Address: Civic Center, 1050 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014
- D’s Market, Address: 3640 N Miller Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
2. Vybes: 8.7/10
Perhaps the trendiest CBD-infused beverage currently on the market, Vybes has earned its keep on the frontlines of the CBD war: originally based in Los Angeles, state regulators raided their warehouse and forced retailers to stop carrying Vybes, eventually forcing them to move production to Texas.
Vybes drinks are perhaps the best-tasting on this list, they have a relatively large dose of CBD (25mg) and they use organic hemp, which is important to us. On the flip side, they use CBD isolate rather than full-spectrum, and recent studies suggest that full-spectrum may be more therapeutic.
Like mKombucha, these drinks are pricey: $8.50 each.
Where to Buy Vybes
Vybes is available in 21 states, though they don’t have a complete list of retailers on their site. They say their drinks are sold at “natural food stores, cafes, coffee shops, gyms, and restaurants.”
We found them in San Francisco at Sidewalk Juice, a high-end juice bar. Put simply, look for Vybes in upscale retail venues that might sell expensive health and wellness products or beverages.
They’re also available online: buy a 12-pack of any flavor on their website for $96.00 (or a fully-stocked Vybes countertop refrigerator for $1000).
GT’s Dreamcatcher series of sparkling waters are a favorite of Remedy Journey because they provide a strong dose of high-quality CBD at a much lower price point than the brands occupying the top spots on this list.
These drinks contain 25mg of full-spectrum CBD from organically-grown hemp, so we’d rank them as perhaps the most therapeutic drink on this list. They cost only $4 each, less than half of Vybes and mKombucha.
The only reason that these drinks are lower on the list is, well, they’re sparkling waters. They don’t taste bad but, yeah, they’re sparkling waters: not the sexiest or most exciting beverage.
Nevertheless, GT’s has hit a homerun with this CBD-infused drink.
Where to Buy GT’s Dreamcatcher
These drinks were released early last year, and can be found in certain major California cities, including San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles. We found them at Gus’s Community Market in San Francisco (at two locations, one in the Haight and the other in the Mission).
4. Mary Joe CBD Cold Brew: 8.1/10
This is Remedy Journey’s favorite CBD-infused coffee: organic, full-spectrum, and deliciously invigorating. The downside: these range in price from $8-10 a pop, which is no doubt hefty, and they contain 15mg of CBD, which isn’t a huge amount.
Still, there aren’t a ton of CBD-infused coffees on the market to choose from, and Mary Joe has definitely made a quality product here.
Where to Buy Mary Joe CBD Cold Brew
Mary Joe is only sold in select major California cities, they have a complete list of all retailers here.
5. Sprig: 7.6/10
Sprig, the Coca-Cola of CBD-infused drinks, was included on this list simply because they’re the most widely-available CBD drink on the market: put simply, this is the only CBD drink available to most people.
At 20mg of CBD these drinks pack a respectable punch, though they’re not organic or full-spectrum. While the RJ team found them to be a little too soda-y, they’re also the lowest-priced CBD drink on the market at $2-2.50/each.
Sprig isn’t the best, but don’t overlook them as a decent way to get your daily CBD dosage.
Where to buy Sprig
Sprig is available in over 4,000 retail locations in 19 states, and you can purchase as 12-pack of any flavor at their website.
In summary: CBD drinks are not technically the most efficient way to get your CBD, but they are maybe the most fun (though smoking CBD flower is quite the experience as well). Perfect for CBD newbs, stylish urbanites, health and wellness geeks, and (if we’re being honest) the uber wealthy who can dish out $8.50 for a juice drink.