Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Guayusa herbal tea - health benefits of a silky herbal infusion from the Amazon

GUAYUSA (gwhy-you-sa) is a rare, naturally caffeinated herbal infusion produced from the leaves of a holly tree native to the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador.

Technically Guayusa is not tea.

It is produced from the leaves of a caffeinated Amazonian holly tree (Ilex guayusa) and is not related to the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) that produces green and black tea.

Guayusa (Ilex guayusa) is the Amazonian cousin of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) that is from the Atlantic Rainforest in and around Argentina.

Both are caffeinated rainforest holly trees; however, Yerba Mate has a strong bitter flavor while Guayusa has a smooth taste.


Health benefits of Guayusa


Guayusa has been part of Amazonian culture and cultivation for over 2000 years, treasured for its unique balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, and its energizing effect that is similar to that of coffee and yerba mate.

The plant contains amino acids, antioxidants, and methylxantine alkaloids, including caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine.

Guayusa does have caffeine, but is also composed of other stimulating “methyl xanthine alkaloids,” theophylline, also found in green tea, and theobromine, the stimulant in dark chocolate that provides a soothing feeling.

Guayusa is a unique stimulant offering a balanced energy lift.

In studies of Guayusa, this tea has been found to contain 50% more anti-oxidants than green tea with the second highest ORAC score of any other food product tested.

Tests have also shown Guayusa to contain 90 mg of caffeine/ 8oz cup making it the second most caffeinated plant on earth next to coffee but with many more health benefits.

One of the most important findings of this study was the synergistic effects of Guayusa’s unique blend of Theobromine (also found in high quantities in dark chocolate), Theophyline, vitamins C and D, essential minerals Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Chormium, caffeine and all 15 essential amino acids (most importantly Leucine, which is not synthesized in our bodies and is needed to repair and build muscle tissue).

Many people find drinking Guayusa both relaxing and stimulating at the same time.

This blend produces a smooth, sustained energy without the crash and jitters often associated with coffee.

Unlike coffee, Guayusa has been found to balance the body’s PH and sugar levels, detoxify the blood, and to improve the functioning of the kidneys and urinary tract.

It also improves the digestion and elimination while strengthening the lungs, removing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

Guayusa is grown almost exclusively in the upper Amazonian region of Ecuador.

It grows where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

Guayusa is harvested from trees that grow under the shaded canopy of the rainforest setting, giving local farmers an economic incentive to conserve the rainforest.


Guayusa and the Amazonic Kichwa culture


Guayusa has been part of the Amazonian culture and cultivation for thousands of years.

Traditionally, indigenous families of Ecuador wake up at 3 a.m. daily to sit around the communal fire drinking gourds full of Guayusa tea until sunrise.

During this time, the village elders teach the youth about ancestral myths, hunting techniques and social values.

Community shamans will also play a traditional bamboo flute (known as kena) and a two-sided weasel-skin drum, and sing soft rhythmic songs during these early morning hours.

Several Amazonic Kichwa myths recount how the guayusa plant taught human beings how to dream.

The shamans interpret dreams from the previous night, and make recommendations to guide the community and help them live in harmony with the rain forest.

Hunters also drink Guayusa before nighttime hunting trips in order to heighten their senses of awareness and focus.

According to the traditions drinking Guayusa enables them to get more in touch with the surrounding environment, allowing them to hunt safely in the jungle.

For this reason the Guayusa is known as “The Night Watchman”.
Guayusa is grown on small family farms and hand-picked by local farmers from the rich soil under the canopy of the Amazon Rainforest.

It serves to not only make a difference in the lives of Ecuadorians through income generation, but also helps conserve the rainforest.

Guayusa is organically grown in the shade, protected from intense sun and rooted in the rich ecosystem of the rainforest; guayusa creates a profitable alternative to slash-and-burn and clear cutting agricultural methods.

It can also be grown with other food, fruit, timber and medicinal plants to create biodiverse and ecologically healthy agricultural plots that allow local farmers to thrive and generate a sustainable livelihood for the community. 

Local Kichwa tradition also says that Guayusa is excellent for because it can help you to get bregnant and for men because it gives you extra potency.

I personally have noticed that if I sleep Guayusa before going to bed, I won't sleep very well, so I prefer not drinking it after dinner.


HOW TO PREPARE


Bring fresh, cold water to a rolling boil.

Don’t let it boil too long, as it will boil away the flavor releasing oxygen and result in a flat tasting cup of tea.

Pour boiling water on leaves and steep for 4-7 minutes, or longer for a darker brew.

Use 2 grams of loose leaf Guayusa per 8 oz of water.

Guayusa also makes a refreshing iced tea.


Enjoy!

64 comments:

  1. Wahoo Its a great recipe. I am surely gonna try this.

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  2. Tea from a holy tree! I would love to try this traditional beverage right from the Amazon :)

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  3. Natural endemic Teas are all the rage these days .. more people are starting to make use of what is around them. I like that recipe you added. Will Try it ( If I can find that Tea )

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  4. Wow, I am amazed to know Guayusa has so many health benefits! Never knew about them! It seems that the plants in the Amazon rain forests do wonders. Probably the tea make you restless or hyperactive, that is why it is not recommended before going to sleep?

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    1. Yes, I can't drink coffee at all because of the coffeine. And if I drink tea or guayusa or even Coke before going to be I won't be able to sleep. It's because of my metabolistic problems.

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  5. I love drinking tea and this sounds like a great option. I will try to find some so I can try it out.

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  6. Wow I Learned Something NEW TODAY Amazing What Some Leaf & Herbs Can Do For Us Thank You For Sharing!!

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  7. It's really interesting to read about this particular type of tea. I love that it doesn't have the typical crash.

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  8. Not a tea drinker but thanks for sharing , never heard of this before

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  9. I love tea and everything looks so fresh and natural. Thank you for sharing :)

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  10. I drink nothing but tea, with the small exception of fermented beverages such as kombucha. Thank you for bringing this type of tea to my attention!

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  11. I never really had this kind of herbal tea before. I am a tea lover and trying this out would totally be awesome.

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  12. The images are beautiful. You give so much extra intrigue to the tea with the human side of its production. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. Does the plant grow only in certain countries with the right combination of temperature and fertility of soil? This is very interesting. I'd like to read more documentation about the tea.

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    1. It is endemic to specific part of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. So I suppose it needs certain kind of enviroment. But I think you could grow it in a garden or greenhouse even if it doesn't grow wild.

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  14. I love tea and have never heard of this one. I would love to try it for energy.

    Michelle F.

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  15. Sounds good to be a beverage and looks healthy substitute. I'll try to research for more.

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  16. Now that sounds like my cup of tea! Although I'm not certain if I would be able to get any guayusa. I'll have to check into that!

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    1. You can find it in some stores in US. Also you can go to Runa's website and order it. And some farmer's markets have it.

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  17. Thanks for sharing about the tea!

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  18. That sounds great! I wonder if I could find it in the U.S.

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    1. You can find it in some stores in US. Also you can go to Runa's website and order it. And some farmer's markets have it.

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  19. This sounds interesting! Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to get it in Malaysia though. =(

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    1. You should go to Runa's page and see if they ship internationally.

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  20. I never knew about Guayusa, but for sure I have discovered something quite interesting. I would love to know if I can find it here in the States, it will be better than coffee for many of us.

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    1. Some stores have it but you should go to Runa's website and order directly from them. Also some farmer's markets have guayusa.

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  21. You always have the best photos! I have never heard of Guayusa before, it does seem like something I'd like to try.

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  22. Hmmm I love tea and have tried many, but not this one. It is always nice to find teas that have healthy, healing properties to them though. One to add to my list!

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  23. The tea leaves look unique.. Wonder how it taste like!

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  24. This is an interesting tea, I would love to try it given the chance! :)

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  25. Thanks for a lot of great info! I think I would like guayusa better since you said it was a little bit more smooth and not so bitter.

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  26. Guayasa looks a really healthy herbal remedy. It's also very remote to find one.

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  27. That is so interesting! Would love to try that. That's probably not sold in stores is it?

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    1. You can find it in some stores in US. Also you can go to Runa's website and order it. And some farmer's markets have it.

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  28. I'm always up for some tea. I kinda wanna try this. Make me some! xD

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  29. I'm always up for trying something new. I like seeing traditional recipes!

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  30. The part about detoxifying blood caught my attention! I want to try the Guayusa herbal tea as I am always having a lot of break outs.

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  31. This guayusa herbal tea sounds kind of amazing. I'll give it a shot.

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  32. I learned a lot of information here, thank you! Where could Guayasa be purchased?

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    1. You should go to Runa's webpage. You can order it from there. Also some farmer's markets sell it.

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  33. It's so neat how they stack them up. I don't know what Guayusa is so thank you for sharing.

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  34. We love to drink tea especially in the colder weather. I will have to check out the website. Thanks for sharing.

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  35. Very interesting info! I'd love to drink a tea that relaxes me :)

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  36. Tea from a holy tree! This I have to try!

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  37. You have such great pictures on your blog. My husband noticed the tea picture on Twitter yesterday and said that was a nice pic. We drink tea here from time to time. :)

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  38. We drink mate every day. :D I wonder if there is a more local name for the one you had.

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  39. First time to see this kind of tea. I love drinking green tea everyday. I think this one is not available in our country and I hope we can have a taste of this too.

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  40. I love following and learning all about Ecuador. The pictures, even like this, with the "tea" are always so interesting to me. I like that this encourages the farmers to preserve the rain forest as well!

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  41. I'm not a hot tea lover I'm more of milk tea. Anyways I will recommend this to my grandma.

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  42. I LOVE tea and this has been a great educational post. Thanks for share!

    xoxo, www.junedujour.com

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  43. I`ve never seen Guayusa before. I like drinking tea. This sounds good. Do they sell it in stores as well?

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  44. I love herbal products. Tea is my favorite in the morning. The benefit is amazing

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  45. I have heard of Guayusa before! Thank you for introducing me to a healthy new alternative :)

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  46. It's the first time I have heard of it and it sure looks appealing especially the health benefits that it has when ingested. I like that it has caffeine but without the after kick of drinking coffee.

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  47. WOW, I have never heard of this before!! Thank you so much for sharing! Learned something new everyday!!!

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  48. I never heard of this kind of tea until now. But I love green tea! :)
    I'll try to look for this kind of tea here, if this is available i'll try this one too! :)

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  49. I have never heard of this before, but I love reading about the health benefits of different foods. We try to incorporate as many healthy food options into our diet as possible. I'll have to check our health food store for this. Thanks for sharing it.

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  50. Thank you for sharing this! It is a great read! While we appreciate the info Outside the Box link party is geared toward DIY, Crafty, and Home Decor. We hope to see some of your amazing projects instead!

    Thanks! Megan

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  51. Wow! This is really cool and I would love to use it for all of the health benefits!

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  52. Thanks for sharing this information. I will be pinning this! My husband is a mate drinker and I just can't stomach the taste or smell. But if this is milder, I may be able to enjoy a cup! It sounds like a wonderful herb. Thank you for sharing it with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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  53. Good morning Joanna, I just wanted to let you know that I * featured * this post this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Thank you for sharing with us!

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    1. Thank you so much! That is wonderful to hear!

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  54. Hi Joanna,
    This is a very valuable resource for those of us who prefer using natural teas and remedies. Thank you so much for
    enlightening us about the health benefits of Guayusa herbal tea at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I'm pinning and sharing!

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  55. You have shared amazing Health benefits of Guayusa, I want to know if I take this on regular basis then will it help me in increasing me stamina? I really learnt so many great benefits from your blog. Do you have information on healthy Green drink too?

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