One of the many entrepreneurs who market products from industrial hemp, is Esther Molenwijk. Her enthusiasm is contagious, at least on us. This year, she sells tea from hemp leaves. ‘A delicious, healthy tea made of a very sustainable crop,’ as she tells us. She funds the harvesting with crowd funding. We contributed € 100 and hope to get a lot of mild and fresh hemp tea in return.
A sustainable crop
In spite of René Sauveur’s admonition to develop first the four major markets for industrial hemp (fodder for cows and other dairy cattle, textiles, construction materials and composites), again and again young entrepreneurs pop up who develop other products. Esther got fascinated by the versatility and sustainability of the plant; last year, after attending a hemp harvest and learning that the leaves were simply left in the field, she took a handful home, dried them and made tea out of them. It turned out to be a great tasting tea and one very well received by family and friends alike. And now she is going to market this product. Hemp farmer Albert Dun developed a machine that can harvest the hemp leaves separately. He set the wheels in motion by sowing seeds in May this year, harvest will be in September.
Taste and effect of hemp tea
Hemp tea (or hemp ‘infusion’) has a mild, fresh and slightly sweet taste, with a spicy aftertaste. The test group also mentioned that it tasted ‘clear’ and ‘pure’. To complement the pure hemp tea, Esther offers three more varieties. Hemp tea does not get you stoned. It is produced from a variety with a very low THC level (less than 0.2%) that gives no psychoactive effect and that is a variety legal to grow in the European Union. Compare this to the THC levels in hemp plants cultivated for marijuana which vary from 5% to 20%. Hemp leaves contain cannabidiol (CBD). For ages, the plant has been used as a medicine for several diseases and its medicinal powers are currently being rediscovered. An increasing amount of research demonstrates the positive effect that CBD can have on the immune system and the central nervous system. Therefore, CBD is currently extracted from the leaves and flowers of the plant and used for a wide range of treatments including those for muscle diseases, depression, insomnia and inflammatory diseases. But hemp tea only contains very low doses of CBD and therefore does not qualify as medicine.
Good for the earth
Hemp is a very sustainable crop. The plant is grown without any pesticides or herbicides and it doesn’t need any additional water apart from the occasional Dutch rain. The deep roots of the plant improve the condition of the soil. On top of that, the hemp plant is so versatile that we can use four parts of it: the fibre, the woody hurd inside the fibre, the hemp seeds and the leaves. In combination, they will have to create a business case that will allow growing this plant on a larger scale. If you should wish to participate in the crowd funding (of course with supply of hemp tea), you could use this link.