Guayusa (gwhy-you-sa) is an Amazonian tree native to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. One of three known caffeinated holly trees, the leaves of the guayusa tree are dried and brewed like a tea for their stimulative effects. It is the Amazonian cousin to Yerba Mate.
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. In addition, guayusa contains 15 essential amino acids and has ferulic acid, which can help improve blood circulation.
Although used by western missionaries in the 1700's, it seems guayusa tea is just now becoming popular in the mainstream. What sets Guayusa apart from all other teas is foremost its extremely smooth flavor that is less bitter than many teas and has a delicious earthy and floral flavor. Additionally, the caffeine is released into the blood stream slowly so there is no sudden burst of caffeine introduced into a system. These factors combine to provide an alert, non-jittery feeling.
Traditionally, indigenous Kichwa families wake up before dawn and gather around a communal fire to drink gourds of stimulating guayusa tea. During this early-morning ritual, community members share dreams, myths, and legends. In ancient times, people prayed for a plant that would teach them how to dream. Several myths recount how the guayusa plant taught human beings how to dream, and throughout the morning shamans interpret dreams from the previous night. Hunters also drink guayusa before nighttime hunting trips in order to heighten their senses of awareness and focus.
People with existing heart conditions may need to seek medical advice before drinking guayusa as it is a stimulant.