We gave up coffee as our daily source of caffeine in favour of Guayusa (a remarkable caffeinated holly that grows in the Amazon rainforest) about 3 years ago. Since we first fell in love with it a lot has happened.
We adored it so much that we wanted to tell more people about it, and we worked hard around our busy day jobs to find out how to start a tea business! There’s no time here to list everything that was involved, but it’s now about a year and a half since we started trading*, and we have so many more plans!
* September 2018 update - it's actually over 3 years now!
We have learned so much. One thing we've learned is that if you feel a passion about something so much that you can’t stop thinking, or talking, about it - and you want to build a living around it - you can. You might have to put in some extra hours - and be able to sustain it (for what feels like quite a long while) - but if that love doesn’t go away, you won’t give up!
You probably have gotten the sense that we are really passionate about Guayusa?
So, it wouldn't hurt us to back up just a few of the reasons why - here’s ten 10 reasons why we love this tea so much. We could list more - but, ten is a nice neat number. It’s also the exact amount of letters in ‘G.U.A.Y.U.S.A.T.E.A’ :)
G - is for ‘Great tasting’
Guayusa tea has a clean taste that doesn’t have any of the bitterness of green tea. 2g per cup is the minimum recommended starting point for a tasty brew. We think it’s best when brewed for at least 5 minutes. If we used one of our 2g tea bags, we’d just leave it in the cup - much like you would with any other herbal tea. This would provide around 38mg of caffeine (a cup of coffee has around 90mg). If you want to make the tea stronger just add more - it still tastes great and seems to become thicker on the palate. Bear in mind, though, that it will naturally have more caffeine! We love to add manuka honey or brown sugar when we want it sweet. Agave nectar is also a great sweetener. But trust us, Guayusa tastes totally great unsweetened - so it's really just how you prefer things! Lately we’re just drinking it with no sweetener (another New Year’s resolution to cut the calories?). James' daily commute to work is fuelled by a strong Guayusa brew with a dash of almond milk and raw agave nectar.
U - is for ‘Umami’
Guayusa contains an amino acid called ‘Threonine’ which we learned imparts the flavour of umami. We think this could add something to what makes guayusa taste so interesting to the palate. Umami stems from the Japanese language and basically translates to 'pleasant savoury taste'. It's a blend of the Japanese word 'umai' (which means 'delicious') and 'mi' (which means 'taste'). Green tea also has the umami flavour, because of its L-Theanine content - perhaps this is why many people often describe Guayusa as a tastier kind of green tea (because it has no bitter tannins, unlike green tea!).
A - is for ‘Antioxidants’
Guayusa is packed with antioxidants. There's no double about it. Studies seem to vary but, it's widely reported that Guayusa can contain up to twice the antioxidants of green tea. We’ve heard and we're sure you have to, that antioxidants are supposed to be good for you, because they can reduce the number of potentially cell-damaging ‘free-radicals’ in the body.
Y - is for ‘Yes, it’s virtually tannin free!’
We have to thank one of our customers for making us realise that we need to talk more loudly about how Guayusa contains a very low amount of tannins. She explained that she had started to develop a feeling of nausea when drinking normal tea. Over time it didn’t go away. After much research, she believed it to be because tannin was acting as an irritant to her stomach. She found that Guayusa has given her back the cup of tea she so missed - without the stomach irritation. In addition, tannin is what is responsible for the stains inside tea cups that can be so hard to remove. It’s true that tea can also stain the teeth - more than coffee, it's believed - as it contains more tannins! Tannins are also what can make regular tea taste bitter. With Guayusa it’s pretty much impossible to over-brew it - quite the opposite - it seems to just 'keep on giving'. It can even be re-steeped at least once, making it fantastic value for money.
U - is for ‘Up and coming’
We’ve recently read stories about how there are threats to the coffee supply chain, how this could result in increased prices and possibly the end of coffee by 2080. Could Guayusa could be part of a solution to spread the load of human love for caffeine across two great caffeine-packed trees? One thing is for sure, Guayusa is certainly an up and coming drink that’s building a large fan base - we don’t think there’s going to be any stopping its rise! For those looking for an alternative to coffee, Guayusa should not disappoint. Why not take the pressure off the coffee supply chain today and try Guayusa as a coffee alternative? Hint: There are even ways to make it taste bizarrely like coffee - try some experimentation by mixing it with roast chicory and cacao powder or nibs :)
S - is for ‘Slow release’
Guayusa is said to release caffeine more slowly than coffee. It also doesn't give the jittery or heart-fluttery high and crash of coffee. There seems to be something about its makeup that has a friendly and smooth 'caffeine-curve'. That’s why you’ll often see us using the term ‘Friendly Caffeine’. We have to thank a friend for this, who came out with the expression, when we were enthusing about how Guayusa feels less aggressive on the body than a regular cup of coffee or tea, yet still stimulating. “Friendly caffeine!”, she exclaimed!
A - is for ‘Amino acids’
Studies of Guayusa show it contains 10 essential amino acids and a number of others. Amino acids are biologically important compounds in the body that are organic - it is said they are the building blocks of life. The second largest component of proteins are comprised of amino acids. Outside of their role in being such a large part of proteins, amino acids perform vital functions like the transport of neurotransmitters and biosynthesis. We’re not scientists - but that sounds pretty important to us - and Guayusa contains a bunch of them, so, “whooooooo! GUAYUSA!”
T - is for ‘Theobromine’
Theobromine effectively translates to ‘Food of the Gods. It ties back to the name of the genus (family) of the cacao tree 'Theobroma', which literally translates to 'Theo' (God) and 'Broma' (Food). So 'God Food’. Theobromine is a compound found in chocolate that has a stimulative effect (it's actually a 'xanthine alkaloid', which is the same family of stimulants as caffeine). As well as caffeine, guayusa also contains a stack of theobromine for extra focus and stimulation! You can read more about theobromine in our blog. Is there no end to guayusa's energy-giving marvels?
E - is for ‘Energy’
Let's face it - life these days is pretty hectic (even stressful?) and it's easy to feel burned out. Guayusa gives an easy, balanced energy that helps you get through the day. We told you - it’s Friendly Caffeine!
A - is for ‘Ancient’
Guayusa is a special and sacred plant that has been found growing in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. It's been grown by humans for so long that it has become sterile and doesn't reproduce on its own. It seems to totally rely on the hands of humans to keep on cultivating it using cuttings. Guayusa is revered by indigenous peoples who have used it for centuries - it is deeply woven into their daily lives and belief systems. We find this relationship beautiful, fragile and fascinating. It only adds to our adoration of this wonder holly. We’ve only begun to discover more about the deep mythologies surrounding Guayusa - what we have already learned is mind-blowing. We clearly understand why it has gained this status of utter reverence. Among some Amazonian peoples, it is the singly most referred to plant in their culture. Now that it's becoming a commercial, marketable product, growing Guayusa as a 'cash crop' incentivises modern guayusa farmers to keep mature hardwood trees on their land (rather than clear them in the case of other cash crops), supporting rainforest conservation.
Thank you for reading. We hope that you have learned something new about Guayusa today!
Perhaps we’ll have to do a second ‘next top ten reasons’ in a future post :)
If you would like to read what our customers have been feeling about Guayusa tea, please see their words on our Guayusa reviews page!