Information on Guayusa Tea:
Guayusa is an herb that comes from a plant that is indigenous to the Amazon rainforest. It is very similar to the health food: Yerba Mate tea. While it is mostly harvested in Ecuador, Guayusa can also be gathered in neighboring countries in the region such as Colombia or Peru. The leaves come from the Ilex Guayusa tree which can grow anywhere from 6 to 30 meters tall. It is one of the three holly plants whose leaves naturally contain caffeine.
Guayusa is traditionally used as "Guayusa Tea," read below to learn more...
History and Myths of Guayusa
One of the tribes that use guayusa tea says that once a person drinks it, he will become addicted to it. Another saying about drinking guayusa is that the drinker will want to return to the Ecuador rain forest. Drinking the tea is a morning ritual for the Jivaro people. They immediately brew a batch of guayusa tea upon arising. They then relax, tell stories and share their tea with their friends and family. It is frequently used by native shamans where it grows. Some have historically used this tree to give them dreams telling them about the success of their next hunting trip.
Traditional Uses of the Guayusa Plant:
Traditionally the leaves of the tree are cultivated and dried for both import and export. Guayusa tea is made by boiling the leaves in water just like you would any other tea, such as green tea or black tea. However green and black teas are often not historically brewed at boiling temperatures, but more like 175 or 185 degrees Fahrenheit. The Guayusa plant is unique in that it can be brewed with boiling water for a long time and still not taste bitter. This is because the Guayusa tea leaves are mostly free from tannins, which tend to make green and black teas bitter. Thus depending on your personal preferences, Guayusa tea can be consumed unsweetened without causing common discomforts like stomach upset, or dry mouth.
Caffeine Content in Guayusa Tea:
The caffeine content in Guayusa tea is similar to a cup of coffee. For this reason, many people will enjoy a cup of Guayusa tea in the morning just like people who would regularly drink a morning cup of coffee or black tea. Additionally, there are no crashes like coffee drinkers often experience. Instead, this herb offers a steady climb of energy and a steady fall of energy. So you don’t need to worry about any jitters, shaking, or nervousness.
A legend about the tea that is prevalent among indigenous and native people, is as follows: many native peoples believe that the tea will give the men visions about whether a hunt will go well or not the night or day before a hunting excursion. For this reasons the tea was often drank in the evening so that the men could potentially have the dreams.
Production of Guayusa tea is mostly industrialized. The llex Guayusa tree tends to be grown on plantations with hired workers who pick the leaves off of the trees. The leaves themselves are then dried and either sold as whole leaves or as crushed leaves depending on the needs of the manufacturer. Currently the Ecuadorian government is working towards establishing both fair trade as well as organic production of Guayusa tea. This is because Ecuador as a nation largely believes in the well being of the environment.
Guayusa tea has better health benefits over popular teas such as a black tea or green tea. It is twice as rich in antioxidants than traditional teas are, which help the body to remove harmful toxins that harm cells and DNA. Additionally many people will drink it for its stimulant effects and some people even report that it has the benefit of helping them feel calm and relaxed.
How should you enjoy Guayusa?
Enjoy a cup with your friends! Traditionally the drinking of Guayusa tea is considered to be a social activity by indigenous people. They will often get up early in the morning and gather around a fire where the tea is being brewed. As they drink the tea, they will normally tell stories, listen to music, or play on the drums. Many times shamans will be present to interpret dreams and help guide the tribe with living in harmony with the rain forest. After drinking the morning cup of tea, children are normally sent to bathe in the river to help them take advantage of the river’s strength not unlike the strength found in a steaming cup of Guayusa tea.
Health Benefits of Guayusa Tea
Guayusa provides many great health benefits for the human body. From weight loss to immune protection, it's a very powerful option for those looking to live a healthier, happier life. Some of the main health benefits include:
- Weight Loss - The caffeine provided by Guayusa acts as an appetite suppressant. This allows those using the tea to lower their daily calorie intake and lose weight. Guayusa tea has a little more caffeine than black tea, but not as much as a regular cup of coffee. This allows the tea to provide many weight loss benefits without the same side effects as coffee.
- Better Digestion - Guayusa has been used for many years as a digestive aid and medicinal brew. The high levels of methylxanthines, a natural occurring compound, allow the tea to aid in digestion. Regular use of Guayusa may help the digestive tract work smoothly and help keep infections from happening.
- High in Antioxidants - Antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress and illness. Guayusa provides a very potent option for antioxidants, which help protect the body from aging and reduce risks of cancers and other diseases.
- More Energy - Not only will Guayusa give you a little energy from the caffeine, but it will also allow you to maintain balanced energy throughout the day. Other stimulants are found within the tea, such as theophylline and theobromine, which helps to give you energy without the jitters or without a crash.
Along with these health benefits, Guayusa has the ability to reduce constipation, balance blood sugar and even increase alertness.
Nutrients and Compounds Found in Guayusa
Packed with plenty of healthy nutrients and compounds, Guayusa provides a healthy alternative to other caffeine sources. Some of the many nutrients and compounds found within the tea include:
- L-Theanine - An important amino acid helping to product dopamine, L-theanine provides a feeling of well-being and calms the mind. It can also increase memory and focus.
- Saponins - Provides many benefits when it comes to bone healthy, stimulating the immune system and controlling blood cholesterol levels.
- Polyphenols - Just one cup of Guayusa provides 30% more polyphenols than green tea. This compound has been shown to help boost the immune system and works as an anti-inflammatory within the body.
- Chloricgenic Acid - An important nutrient aiding in weight loss, Chloricgenic Acid helps support fat metabolism.
- Theobromine - A compound commonly found in raw chocolate, theobromine helps to reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
Along with these compounds and nutrients, Guayusa tea contains magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium, Vitamins D & C and potassium.
Myths and Legends About Guayusa
It has been said that Richard Evans Schultes, a famous Harvard Ethnobotanist, found a 1,500-year-old bundle of Guayusa leaves in a tomb of a medicine man in the Bolivian Andes. The tea leaves should not have lasted this long.
Many myths from long ago also show Guayusa as a tea that first taught humans to dream at night. It has also been said to teach people to conquer fear and have presences throughout difficult times. The Kichwa people even believe the tea would tell them if a hunting trip would be successful.
Guayusa Tea Popularity
As the benefits of drinking guayusa tea becomes known throughout the world, demand for the tea’s production increases. This benefits not just the health of those who consume the tea, but improves the lives of the people of Ecuador and neighboring lands who grow the tree. Because the popularity of the tea is increasing, the demand for the guayusa tree is growing as well. Ecuadoran farmers are planting the tree, which is in turn reforesting the rain forests. Drinking guayusa tea increases concentration, health and relaxation. The tea’s consumption also benefits the people of Ecuador and the rain forests, improving the environment as well.