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Guayusa Tea

Guayusa Tea
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There’s a new drink on the horizon, or is it? I have been barraged of late with requests of what is Guayusa tea and where can I get it?

First step back and explore just what Guayusa tea is:

Guayusa tea is said to have been around for thousands of years and is a source of cultural heritage and tradition to the Kichwa peoples of Ecuador. Guayusa is grown where the Andes Mountains meet the lush canopy of the Amazon Rainforest.

It is pronounced why-you-suh and is ingrained in the Ecuadoran communities as a morning ritual drink. It is a considered a rare drink to us here in the United States and is only recently been sold here. Guayusa is native to the Amazon Rainforest and is considered to be similar and perhaps cousin to Yerba Mate.

Guayusa is made from brewing the leaves of ilex guayusa plant. It is a holly tree. It contains no parts of the Camellia Sinensis bush and therefore is not a true tea. It is considered an herbal tea.

It is considered a stimulant, more so like coffee than tea. It contains methlyanthine alkaloids like coffee but strangely also is said to contain many of the properties of tea. For example, independent labs have found Guayusa to contain: theophylline, polyphenols, flavonoids, and saponins like green tea. There are huge claims that it could contain almost 30% more antioxidants per 8 ounce glass than green tea.

While the Shamans and Ruku Elders believe it enlightens them and connects them to nature and is guarded as highly spiritual, it is drunk daily by all Ecuadorian people. They believe still in its healthful properties children and pregnant women drink it as well. Much like Yerba Mate, Guayusa is consumed at great gatherings of families and friends, where stories are told and passed to other generations. A hollowed out gourd serves as the vessels of choice and are often passed from one another and shared together. It is picked in the early hours of the morning by women of the house. Guayusa is grown in the shade, is collected into baskets and brought back home. The leaves are hung overnight to “wither”. They then are set into piles of fifteen, folded in half and strung together into packs. They then are further formed into a wreath called a sarta and then are hung over a fire to dry.

Each family owns a large clay pot used only for the brewing of Guayusa. When dry leaves are ready, they can be boiled in the pot for thirty minutes to even left overnight! There are no Tannin properties to Guayusa like in tea.

It is known that 90% of all Guayusa is grown in Ecuador. The other 10% is in either Peru or Columbia where there is Rainforest there. Where Guayusa is grown is considered to be one of the top ten places where it is the most biodiverse on this planet! It is said that strangely the Guayusa plant no longer bears fertile seeds and relies on human interaction to continue! Guayusa is picked, and harvested by indigenous peoples only. It is said that these are generations of families and that the ground is sacred and spiritual.

FoxNews.com recently had the Guayusa in the news and there is one fair-trade organization working to bring Guayusa to the United States and there are very few distributors as of yet. While this sounds like an interesting and healthful drink, please remember to always consult a physician if you are pregnant, use prescription medication, and/or have allergies. This is a stimulant and these can have reactions or interactions.

Perhaps Guayusa may be your cup of tea!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Mary Caliendo. All rights reserved.
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