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The guayusa (“why-you-sa”) leaf comes from the Ilex Guayusa tree, a type of holly tree native to the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. This leaf is brewed like tea to create a caffeine and antioxidant-rich infusion that is an excellent alternative to traditional sources of caffeine. Thanks to its slower-releasing effect, guayusa provides sustained energy, mental clarity, and a feeling of focus – without any of the jitters or crash feeling you can get from other caffeine sources. Thanks to its lack of bitter tannins, guayusa tea also has a deliciously smooth taste that can be enjoyed without the need for sugar or milk. It is also rich in antioxidants, particularly a type known as chlorogenic acids, which have numerous benefits.
Having been drank daily by indigenous communities in Ecuador for centuries, guayusa is now breaking out of obscurity and being discovered as a new and delicious way to stay energised, focused, and healthy.
In Ecuador, the g is kept silent and it is pronounced “why-you-sa”, as in “why-you-sa-happy!”. In the US, it is sometimes pronounced with the g (“gwhy-you-sa”), but we think the Ecuadorian pronunciation is more true to its roots, and it also rolls off the tongue a lot easier!
For many people, when they first hear about guayusa they assume it is a type of green tea. In reality, the guayusa tree is actually a type of holly tree and is not related to the plant from which green or black tea comes (called the camellia sinensis plant).
While guayusa and green tea share many benefits (such as a rich antioxidant profile), many find guayusa to have a more energising effect (closer to coffee) and also a much smoother and less bitter flavour, as well as being easier on the stomach (due to lack of tannins).
Guayusa is similar to yerba mate, as both come from the caffeinated leaves of a holly tree. However there are some significant differences, most notably around taste – while yerba mate has a somewhat bitter and smoky flavour, guayusa is much smoother and has a richer texture and creamier flavour.
It’s very simple! If you are using our tea bag product, simply pour boiling water over one tea bag in a cup, and let it infuse for at least 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes (it won’t get bitter), depending on how strong you want it. You can add milk or a sweetener if you like, but this is generally not needed.
If you are using the loose leaf product, you can use a cafetiere, loose leaf tea pot with infuser (we recommend this one), or if you want to brew one cup at a time then we recommend the brewing basket. For each cup of water, simply drop between 1 and 2 teaspoons (depending on desired strength) of leaves into your chosen vessel and then pour freshly boiled water over, and let this infuse for 5-15 minutes before straining the infusion/removing the basket.
To make an iced guayusa, you can either brew as normal and then let it cool, or brew at double strength and then pour this more concentrated tea over ice, so that it cools quickly. Add in a squeeze of lemon/lime juice and some sweetener (honey or agave works well) and you have a deliciously refreshing and energising iced guayusa.
A 3g serving of guayusa (which is what we recommend and is what is in our Pure Guayusa pyramids) would provide about 60mg of caffeine, depending on the infusion time and the temperature of the water it’s infused in. For comparison, the caffeine ranges of other drinks are as below:
Coffee: between 70 and 140mg per cup
Black tea: about 45mg per cup
Green tea: about 35mg per cup
Matcha tea: about 70mg per cup
Note that guayusa has a slower-release caffeine, which doesn’t give you the same spike and crash as a coffee, but gives you a more gentle and longer lasting energy lift.
Guayusa has benefits for both mind and body:
It has more antioxidants than green tea, helping your body fight against oxidative stress and the illnesses it contributes to.
It is particularly rich in a type of polyphenol antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which research suggests may promote weight loss and bring about better glucose and insulin regulation, decreased blood pressure, improved mood as well as improved cardiovascular function. See this page for more on the benefits of chlorogenic acids.
Guayusa is also very easy on the stomach, thanks to its lack of acidity and lack of tannins
It is naturally smooth tasting and so is generally taken without sugar or milk, making it a lower calorie option.
Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, guayusa is also a great source of natural and sustained energy. It has similar levels of caffeine to coffee, but its caffeine is released more slowly into the bloodstream, and does not spike your adrenaline levels in the same way as coffee or energy drinks. This provides a uniquely focused and sustained effect, perfect for long periods of work or sport.
Antioxidants help protect us against oxidative stress, which happens when there is an excessive build up of free radicals in the body. This protective effect is essential to healthy aging and helps reduce the risks of various forms of illness.
Thankfully, guayusa is one of the most antioxidant-rich plants in the world. It is particularly abundant in a type of antioxidant known as chlorogenic acids.
The general advice is not to consume any caffeinated products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, so we would not advise drinking guayusa if that is the case.
Guayusa is grown almost exclusively in the upper Amazon region of Ecuador, where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon rainforest. This is known to be one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
The Kichwa people, who are indigenous to this area, have been drinking guayusa tea daily for centuries, as a source of natural energy. The growing international demand for guayusa is now offering them a new source of income, as well as the ability to demonstrate the viability of a more natural form of agriculture – one that respects the beauty and biodiversity of the region, and which protects it against deforestation. This system of farming is known as a chacra system, and has been sustainably used by the Kichwa people for thousands of years as a way to meet their needs without causing deforestation or loss of biodiversity.
Each time you purchase a pouch of Nú Infusions, you are helping to support the development of this more natural and sustainable form of agriculture, and providing opportunities for the smallholder farming families.
Yes, all our blends are certified organic by the Irish Organic Association, and contain 100% organic herbs and spices, without any artificial or “natural” flavourings.
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