Guayusa comes from the same family of rainforest holly trees as yerba mate, the popular caffeinated tea that is drunk all over South America. Yerba mate grows in the Atlantic rainforest whereas guayusa thrives in the Amazon rainforest. Grown primarily in Ecuador, its health giving properties are well-known by indigenous people and it has been an important part of tribal life for centuries.
Because guayusa doesn’t contain any tannins, it doesn’t have the bitter taste of green tea and even some black teas. Instead it has a clean, sweet flavour, that is delicious on its own or with soy, rice or nut milk.
As well as caffeine, its unique chemical make-up includes the caffeine related compounds theobromine and theophyline, plus a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals.
It contains vitamins C and D; minerals including potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc; AND all 15 essential amino acids, including leucine, which doesn’t occur naturally in the body but is needed to repair and build muscle tissue.
Guayusa is packed with antioxidants too, which help to neutralise free radicals in the body. In fact guayusa has almost twice as many antioxidants as green tea!
Guayusa grows in the rich and fertile Amazon rainforest. It thrives in the shade and relies on ‘forest gardens’ where it is protected from the sun. Growing more guayusa is great news for the rainforest because it means planting more trees and regenerating areas of land that may have been previously deforested by the logging industry.
Harvesting and drinking guayusa has been part of life for Ecuadorian communities for centuries, and by selling the tea they are now able to make a living from it too. For local farmers, it’s a sustainable and ecological alternative to working for the oil or timber industries that continue to deforest the Amazon.