In keeping with our recent Tree to Tea blog series, we thought it only fitting to include the process we go through at our sister company, The Hemp Division. As you may or may not know, we are also hemp farmers! In 2019, my dad, Mike, and uncle Paul decided to roll up their sleeves and plant a few thousand hemp plants on land in Millerton, New York, where we’re headquartered.
Since we’re a family of tea experts, we had a lot to learn in the beginning! Fortunately for us, we got schooled by some excellent hemp farmers and before we knew it, we were growing and harvesting hemp for our all-natural CBD products. October is harvest month, an exciting time for us as we take what we have grown and turn nature’s bounty into products that enhance our customers’ lives. Here’s a look at how hemp is grown, how our products are made, and why we refer to them as “From the Roots Up!”
It All Starts with Little Baby Hemp Plants
Well, before we have plants, we of course have seeds. At The Hemp Division, rather than plant our seeds directly in the fields, we plant them in trays to allow them to germinate, and then we transfer them to our field. Hemp plants can grow just about anywhere except in extreme desert conditions. They are fairly easy to grow, requiring little in the way of supplemental nutrition, and are fairly pest- and disease-resistant. We’re grateful they made it easy on us as inexperienced farmers!
Female hemp plants contain the most CBD, so those are the plants we use. They need plenty of room to grow, so they’re spaced a few feet apart. For our first planting in 2019, we had 7,000 plants on four acres.
Those Suckers Grow Fast!
In the right conditions, hemp plants can grow three inches per day! By harvest time, they are generally around five feet tall. Weeding is not an issue as the plants grow faster than the weeds. (Which means the idiom “growing like a weed!” should change to “growing like a hemp plant!”)
As they grow and begin to develop buds, the plants are tested by state regulators to ensure they have the proper amounts of CBD and the mandated less-than 0.3% of THC. In order to grow hemp, you must have the proper licensing and testing mandated by each individual state where growing hemp is legal.
Harvesting the Hemp
Because of their rapid growth cycle of 108 to 120 days, tiny hemp plants planted in late spring are ready for harvest by early fall. Our hemp plants are harvested by hand so that the buds aren’t damaged. The buds are where all the CBD goodness lives!
Once harvested, the hemp has to dry. To do that, we hang the plants upside down. Thorough drying of the plants is important to ensure maximum CBD yield and product safety. And while it may smell like we’re up to some kind of Cheech and Chong no good in there, trust us that our hemp has less than 0.3% THC as mandated by law and examined by authorities. Legal hemp can’t help it that it smells like its nefarious cousin.
After they’re dry, the buds are removed by hand. If you’ve ever wondered why CBD products carry the cost that they do, perhaps you’ll start to understand that much of the process is carefully done by hand. It’s kinda like buying furniture from IKEA versus a handcrafted artisan coffee table. Also, it takes a lot of hemp flowers to create CBD extract!
Speaking of CBD extract… the extraction process is the next step. The two most common methods are ethanol and supercritical CO2. We use the ethanol method of extraction, as it has many benefits, is FDA-classified as safe, and allows us to obtain a full-spectrum extract. Ethanol can be recirculated through the hemp flower multiple times, which allows for maximum extraction of the CBD properties. All-natural and made from plants, ethanol evaporates and leaves no trace in the CBD extract. We find this method of extraction to have the most benefit, allowing us to create CBD products of the highest caliber.
During the extraction process, a crude extract or biomass is created, which is the first step in transforming these plant compounds into the final product that goes into our teas, tinctures, lotions, and more. In general, during extraction, a solvent-- in our case, ethanol-- is passed through the buds to separate the active compounds from the others. Those active compounds can be processed into small granules, powder, or liquid. Those are carefully measured and put into our products.
The Big Finish
After we have extracted the CBD into crystals or oils, we use them to create our from-the-roots-up products! We’ve been very intentional about creating products that are all-natural and beneficial to your health and well-being. We vary the levels of CBD in our products so that you can mix and match or dial into the exact dosage that’s right for you.
We’ve loved bringing our experience as master tea brewers at Harney & Sons Fine Teas to a whole new level with The Hemp Division. This is an extension of our love and care for our planet, bringing a new aspect of Mother Nature into our all-natural THD products. We never expected to become hemp farmers, but life is full of wonderful surprises!