If you have just recently heard about kratom you may have more than a few questions on your mind about this intriguing plant. For an herb that just a few years ago was relatively unknown, kratom has come crashing into America’s collective consciousness and it seems more than likely that is where it will remain.

But what exactly is kratom anyway? In this short guide we hope to answer some of the questions you may be asking yourselves about one of our favorite plants here at Garden Zen Herbs.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a tropical evergreen tree native to South East Asia in the same family as the coffee tree (Rubiaceae). Native to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea, it’s leaves have a long history of being harvested, dried, crushed or powdered and then prepared as a tea in these regions.

Kratom has probably been used in the traditional healing systems of the local people of Southeast Asia for as long as humans have co-existed with this tree, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the West found out about it. Dutch botanist Pieter Korthals documented his experience with kratom in 1839 and gave named it Mitragyna speciosa. Even though some studies were conducted in order to better understand this amazing plant, after a period of time kratom was forgotten by western science.

It wasn’t until recently that kratom started gaining popularity outside of Southeast Asia again. With the advent of the Internet age people were able to share information much more easily and learn about the herbalism traditions of different cultures from around the world. With just the click of a mouse it became possible for individuals interested in natural wellness to buy and use plants and herbs that originated continents away.

Thanks to this greater interconnectedness kratom was able to make the jump from an unknown tree (in the West at least) to a worldwide cultural phenomenon that may soon rival coffee and tea. These days you’ll be hard pressed to find someone with a serious interest in herbalism who hasn’t at least heard of kratom or maybe even tried it themselves.

What’s the Difference Between Red, Green and White Kratom?

When you first begin to learn about kratom you’ll notice that it comes in three main varieties – red, green and white. Each color variety has its own specific properties, characterized by the different proportions of kratom’s naturally occurring alkaloids. Many people experience these kratom varieties differently, so it’s important that you decide for yourself which one is right for you.

It used to be believed that the color of each leaf’s central vein dictated whether kratom came out red, green or white. However now we know that a single kratom tree can produce leaves with veins in all three color. Kratom farmers rarely take the time to separate the leaves by vein color as they harvest the trees’ mature leaves, mixing leaves of different vein colors as they go.

It’s not the original vein color that matters, it’s what farmers do with it later that really makes a difference

Most of the color variation in kratom powder comes from how the leaf is dried and processed, mainly if it was dried outside under the sun, shade dried or dried completely indoors. Whether the leaf is fermented during the drying process can play a big part on its final color as well.

The local climate also affect the final color and characteristics of the leaf powder. When a growing season is too wet and rainy, kratom leaves tend to be paler and less potent, while drier and hotter seasons produce some of the best, most vibrant kratom.

Generally, red kratom varieties are produced through outdoor drying, where they receive a lot of sunlight. This exposure to the sun’s natural UV rays enhances some of the characteristics of the leaves which are not found in white kratom. White kratom on the other hand, is dried completely indoors and usually in the dark. This way the light won’t disturb some of the more fragile alkaloids which give white kratom its unique properties.

Green kratom can be produced in a variety of ways. One of the most common methods is to dry the leaves in the shade. This way are only minimally impacted by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Another technique is to begin drying the leaves outdoors, and then move them indoors to complete the process. As you can imagine, due to its unique drying process green kratom falls somewhere in between red kratom and white kratom in both characteristics and potency.

Now that you’ve learned how each kratom color is produced, let’s delve a little deeper into what makes each different strain so unique.

Red Strain Kratom

Red kratom is easily the best-selling strain of kratom in the industry. The popularity of red kratom is well-deserved though, as this leaf color provides some of the most potent benefits that kratom has to offer. With its warm, earthy tones and its many holistic uses, this highly-prized kratom variety belongs in every herbalists’ collection.

Here are some of our red strains:

Red Bali
Red Borneo
Red Indo

Green Strain Kratom

By far my favorite kratom variety, green strains are a perfect balance of the different properties that red and white strains have to offer. Green strains offer a middle path between red and white, allowing you to experience the full range of benefits that kratom possesses. Although sometimes overlooked in favor of the other two strains, green kratom is not just great starting place for newcomers to familiarize themselves with kratom, but also the preferred variety of many kratom connoisseurs.

Here are three of our favorite green strains:

Green Crushed Leaf
Green Maeng Da
Green Bali

White Strain Kratom

White strain kratom powder is really on its own level. The complete opposite of red kratom, white kratom can often knock people off their feet with its high potency and unique properties. I usually do not recommend white kratom for beginners as even experienced kratom users can sometimes have difficulty adjusting to its distinctive energy. Yet white strain kratom has been steadily growing in popularity in recent years, a trend that can only be expected to continue. White kratom can be used alone but it is often mixed with a red or a green variety to help balance out its intensity.

Here are a few of our awesome white strains:

White Borneo
White Bali
White Maeng Da

What It All Boils Down To

It is said knowledge is power, and now that you’ve learned more about kratom you have the power to make an informed decision about which variety of kratom is best for you. Armed with this knowledge, you’re less likely to be confused by some of the marketing gimmicks some companies are promoting. Although there are a dizzying amount of strain names and blends available online, at the end of the day they all come from the same three kratom colors, red, green and white. So just relax, find a strain you love, experiment with your own blends (or don’t) and kratom on!