EU gives the go-ahead on hemp leaf tea

European hemp foods

Cannabis fan leaves have more uses than one might think. They can be made into topical products, used to roll up, and steeped in a cup of tea. Those in the European Union might want to take note—hemp leaves have been officially removed the ‘novel foods’ classification, according to a press release issued by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA). When removed from flowering parts, the plant is now legally permitted for use in beverages.

“I am delighted that the initiative we started in 2022 as EIHA has resulted in such a positive outcome”, said EIHA President Daniel Kruse in the press release. “This is a significant achievement for our sector, clearly demonstrating that a collective industry effort is essential for normalizing the hemp plant and its products.”

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Hemp foods were not considered novel in Europe until January 2019, a move that stirred up European hemp advocates. Immediately after the reclassification announcement, the EIHA began speaking out against it.

“For many years, EIHA has been engaged in discussions with the EU Institutions and Member States on the Novel Food legislation,” Kruse celebrated. “We are pleased that scientific evidence and historical facts have prevailed over prejudice.”

The EU started using the novel food regulation system on May 15, 1997, dictating that foods are novel if they have not been consumed regularly by citizens before that date. These foods are regulated with more oversight compared to non-novel options. The Commission assesses the labeling and ensures that if the food can replace another item, it wouldn’t decrease the nutritional value of the original option.

European hemp foods: photo of various hemp CBD products.

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Following years of effort from EIHA, the EU began reassessing data on hemp as a novel food last year, holding a working group on June 2, 2022. The group identified data gaps and sought to understand more about the plant within those areas. Some information from EIHA contributed to these efforts, including proof of the regular consumption of hemp foods among Europeans long before 1997.

“This is indeed very welcome news, and we are thrilled to have contributed to its realization,” said EIHA Managing Director Lorenza Romanese, “These changes will bring much-needed legal certainty, eliminating any doubts surrounding the open marketing of hemp seed-derived food and leaves for water infusion throughout Europe.”

The reclassification of hemp foods in the EU doesn’t legalize consumption lounge or THC of any kind–but it could bolster the business efforts of European industrial hemp companies. While this doesn’t give the green light to roll up at just any cafe across the pond, those who fancy a hemp-infused cuppa can now legally quench their thirst.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to clarify that the updated classification legalizes the use of hemp leaves in tea and not in any other foods. 

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.