Travels in Guayusa heartland: Part 3 of 3
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series we covered our Guayusa adventures in Quito and the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Read on to learn about leaving the Amazon for Quito for a last minute trip to another of our amazing suppliers and finding Puruna's Guayusa gin in a beautiful craft store in Quito Old Town.
Day 5: Traveling back to Quito
We had to leave Tena quite early in order to head back to Quito. This gave us a chance to stop off in the beautiful town of Banos again on the way home. It was the first time it had rained all week and it was raining. Hard. Thankfully by the time we’d made it to Banos from Tena it had died down a little which allowed us to get out and about.
This time we were able to stay a little longer and we spent some time relaxing in the natural thermal baths which had various levels of heat across a few pools - the hottest one was fierce but clearly good for the muscles and with the high mineral content many health claims abound. What’s more these pools are set beneath huge cliffs drenched by a wonderful waterfall.
There is an interesting story relating to this town, where the famous Victorian Botanist, Richard Spruce, had written to Kew Gardens, 160 years ago, letting them know about Guayusa and how he felt it could '...successfully compete in the English Market, against the 'inferior' sorts of tea...'
As an aside, I was lucky enough to have found this original letter in the library at Kew Gardens with the help of the lovely staff there:
We then had a small lunch and said goodbye to Banos as we started the last leg of our Ecuadorian journey back to Quito. We got back to the city in the late afternoon and headed to Quito Old Town in search of some Guayusa gin before heading back to the hotel.
So, about the Guayusa gin. We have been aware and following the brand Puruna on Instagram for sometime, as we’d spotted they make an artisan gin containing the superleaf.
We’d been in touch and had hoped to meet in person but the delays with the road closure made time to tight, so we went to a shop, Maky’s Handicrafts, where we were told we might find it.
Fortunately we did find it and were so happy to add this to the batch of products we were able to bring home. We sampled a small amount in the shop and it tasted amazing, but it was when we got home and tried it with some tonic water that it really exploded to life.
Let’s just say it is like the most amazing cocktail you’ve ever tasted. We are going to make sure we make the bottle last as it’s so special and rare.
Day 6: Last day in Quito
This was the last morning in the capital of Ecuador. We had one last visit lined up with another Guayusa supplier who we’ve recently been working with to bring over a new kind of product to our range - Black Guayusa.
This has been on sale for a couple of months now and is proving popular with new and existing customers.
They kindly collected us from our hotel and took us to their facility in Sangloqui where we had a tour around their lab and drying and processing facilities. Again, even from outside as we approached the amazing scent of Guayusa being processed bombarded the senses.
We sampled some of their blends and went on to have a really nice lunch where attached to the restaurant was an amazing little antiques store where we picked up an 35 year old sleeping dog toy who now sits in our front room casting a chilled air across the space. It’s so sweet.
Needless to say we’re missing Ecuador - a lot - and it was so special for us to be carried there by all our hard work bring the superleaf to the UK and Europe. It won’t be long before we’re heading back.