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Poppy Tea
by Zort
Edited & Published by Erowid, Feb 2003
Introduction #
Poppy tea has been used for thousands of years and is still used as a home remedy around the world today. It is occasionally used as part of a home method for 'detoxing' off of other opiate / heroin addictions. Poppy tea is used as a pain reliever, as a sleep aid, as a cough suppressant, as an intoxicant, and as a mild relaxant. The flavor of crude poppy teas is quite bitter and strong and many people find the taste completely unpalatable (nasty). Poppy tea can have effects varying from very light relaxation and sleepiness to overpowering sedation. Nausea is common.

An Overview of Poppy Tea #
Opium poppies (most commonly Papaver somniferum) contain a number of opiates, including Morphine, Codeine, Papaverine, and Thebaine.

Dried Papaver somniferum heads are sold around the world, despite Prohibitionist drug laws. In the United States and Canada, the dried pods are sold as flower arrangement art pieces and in craft stores. Opium poppies are also commonly grown around the United States as ornamentals, although in the last 10 years, the DEA has begun to harass flower vendors. In the late 1990s, stores in large cities in the United States would often sell 10-20 dried poppy pods for 10-20 USD.

Opium poppy heads can vary in size, from marble size to larger than a golf ball, or about 2cm to 10cm in diameter. The average is about the size of a walnut, about 4cm across. Although the botanical names are sometimes mixed and confused, names of opium-containing poppies include: Papaver somniferum, Papaver setigerum, Papaver giganthemum and Papaver paeoniflorum. Some of these may actually simply be other names for sub-varieties of Papaver somniferum. Papaver giganthemums can have heads that are, well, gigantic.

NOTE: Potency of poppy pods varies dramatically from one variety to another, and from one crop to the next. Although experienced poppy drinkers learn to titrate their dose as they drink the tea, it takes time to get to know the material you're working with. Start low, work up.

Choosing a dose is difficult the first time out. When working with a new batch, starting with 1-3 medium sized pods per person is probably right. Regular opiate users and those with high tolerance often use 5-15 poppy pods. However, at the higher end of dosages, those who are not tolerated to the effects are likely to experience significant, unpleasant nausea and could overdose themselves. Opium is not nice to OD on and it is certainly possible to die if enough is taken.

The first step is to remove the poppy heads from the stems and set them aside. Dried poppies often have a hole drilled through their heads through which the seeds have been removed. If the pods still contain seeds, crack them open and pour the seeds out. Ornamental dried poppy pods can sometimes be shellacked or coated -- treated pods should be avoided. Average, totally dry and de-seeded poppy pods weigh around 1-2 grams. De-seeded giganthemum pods weigh between 2 and 4 grams, with the largest weighing over 5 grams.

The second step is to crush or chop the pods thoroughly. This can be done with a hammer, a heavy butcher's knife, or a coffee/spice grinder. Many people prefer to turn the material into a fine powder, which can aid extraction, but this is not entirely necessary.

The third step is to boil the poppy mash briefly in a cup of water for every 3-5 pods used, depending on their size. The tea should not be left to boil, which can lead to more sludge and could reduce potency. Let stand to cool until drinkable.

The last step is to pour the tea through a wire mesh strainer or other filter. Stirring and pressing the mash may be necessary to get most of the liquid out. Fine particles will pass through the filter and you will have some particulate matter and globs in the bottom of the cup, these are generally swallowed with the tea. An alternate straining method is to use a french press, which is designed for coffee making, but can be used for any tea prepartion.

The taste is bitter and often considered foul. Many people mix other flavored teas into their poppy teas, such as licorice or other strong spicy flavor. A second steeping of the same crushed poppy mash can be done and the second extraction will be weaker, but still have some effect. Using less water for the second steep works well.

The stems can also be used in this process, but they are less potent than the heads. Many poppy tea drinkers don't separate the heads and just use the whole stem and head together for their tea making. If you have access to leaves, sometimes these are used, but are not as well liked as the heads.

Addiction #
Although this article will not cover the topic in any detail, I thought I'd include a note about opiate addiction. Although the effects of poppy tea are not as compulsion-inducing as smoked, snorted, or injected opiates, it is certainly possible to become both physically addicted and habituated to the use of opium poppy tea. Opiates are the classic psychoactive drug addiction. If you take in opiates for several days in a row, your body acclimates to the presence of the opiates and when you stop taking them, your body will take time to adjust. Unfortunately this readjustment can be extremely unpleasant and often leads people to take more of the opiates in order to avoid these sensations, allow them to sleep, etc. There are published case reports of individuals who found themselves with difficult opiate addictions after using only poppy tea. An even more troublesome issue is not just the physical addiction, but the emotional and intellectual habits that can form around using a daily psychoactive. Please be careful.

Procedure Steps #
Step 1Choose number of poppy pods per person. Between 1 and 3 for new drinkers, 2-5 for experienced, and 5+ for opiate addicts. Too much makes you sick and does not increase the enjoyment.
Step 2Break apart pods and pour out seeds for use in cooking or growing. Crush pods and grind or chop into fine pieces.
Step 3Using 1 cup water for every 3-5 pods used, boil pods briefly or pour boiling water over poppy mash. Let cool 5-10 minutes until drinkable.
Step 4Filter through wire mesh strainer or other filter. Press the pulp to expel as much water as possible. Save the pulp for a second extraction.
Step 5Add other tea flavors as desired. Drink slowly. Do a second extraction using 2/3 as much water as before.

Opium Poppy Links #
References / Bibliography #
This article is partially based on a "junkie's" recipe from The original recipe was taken down off the web, which prompted me to write this new version.