Guayusa...what is it?

So maybe I’ve been living in a cave, but I’ve only vaguely heard of Guayusa before. I recently received a sample of it with a purchase from a tea shop but have been hesitant to try it because I know nothing about it. Also, I have had some bad abdominal experiences after trying “teas” that were from a different kind of plant (certain herbals). I know this is something people drink regularly, so it is obviously safe.

What is it? What does it taste like? The sample I have has mint added – do people like this? Is it caffeinated? How do you brew it?

I could look this up, but I thought there might be some experts here.

17 Replies
Azzrian said

No expert here but this link may help:
http://steepster.com/teas/runa/11750-guayusa
This is the only Guayusa I have had which came in a steepster select package.

Very helpful. I didn’t know there was a type of holly in the rainforest.

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Azzrian said

LOL ironically I just got an email from a site called FAB – its a flash site that has sales on things and Runa tea is one of the featured items!
And if you do decide to join to buy this stuff if you click my referral link I also get credit to use: http://fab.com/q1cc84
Anyway this is the link I have not even checked it out yet myself.
http://fab.com/sale/5258/?navEmail=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=2012-04-20_night_sale_email&utm_campaign=Night%20Sales%20Campagin%20on%20April%2020%202012

On a non-related food topic (but related to fab.com) you really MUST try the ketchup that they have available right now… Sir Kensington’s Ketchup. I did not like ketchup before I tasted this stuff… now, I can eat this stuff right out of the jar with a spoon. It’s so good. Here’s my review of it:

http://hungryinportland.com/2011/09/02/gourmet-scooping-ketchup-from-sir-kensingtons/

Anyway… sorry for hijacking the thread… back to the topic of Guayusa!

Azzrian said

Oh noes – here I go to look …

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teaenvy said

i just tried guayusa for the first time today. i really enjoyed it. so much so that as soon as i finished my cup, i bought a pound.

taste is difficult to describe. “herbacious” is the best i can do. :-) its complex flavor that has hints of mint, citrus, hay, and something sweet all rolled into one.

on one hand it might take some getting used to, but on the other it is completely inoffensive. its smooth and not the least bit bitter.

i had a few tea bags of the stuff today and i experimented quite a bit. i discovered that the natural flavor seemed to go with anything and everything….spearmint gum, m&ms, spaghetti, yogurt….

i tried it steeped for 5 minutes and then for 20. finally i simply did not remove the tea bag at all and let it steep for almost two hours during my home commute. the flavor barely changed. it was just as good hot as cold.

some of what i have read suggests that one can steep the leaf for multiple infusions without loss of taste. this may be true of loose leaf but i found with the tea bags that a second steeping lightened the flavor to barely acceptable to me. i was, however, using a large 12 oz mug instead of the 8 oz cup suggested on the package. i am sure that influenced the flavor in the second cup some.

one of the nicest things was the stimulation factor. the caffeine content was noticeable. but it also contains theobromine and another amino acid (that i dont recall the name of). these last two amino acids really change how the drink makes you feel. my personal experience was that this drink had a bit of a valium effect. i felt good but not edgy. i felt awake but relaxed. in fact i swear the drink tempered my natural inclination towards anxiety without making me feel like i had consumed a drug.

i am really looking forward to the loose leaf i ordered. my only complaint about my tastings today is the infusions were a little thin on taste likely due to too little leaf for my big mug. being able to adjust the leaf to my preference should help that.

oh gosh…can you tell i like this stuff? the thing is, i am a heavy coffee drinker both in volume and in flavor. i love tea but i drink it as a novelty similar to tasting fine wine. i never considered that anything might be able to replace coffee for me. but guayusa might do it. i find myself wanting a cup right now even though its 3 am.

oh yeah, im really sold on the stuff. i can well imagine the flavored varieties are just as good as the plain. as i said the flavor seems to go well with anything. served iced with fruit like a sangria, served strong with honey (though it is so sweet you dont need it) and spices like a hot toddy…

wow, thanks for the thorough review! I will definitely have to try it soon; seems like a very versatile drink. I do enjoy “herby” flavors, but not sure about the natural sweetness factor. Usually, I prefer things unsweetened.

Interesting about replacing coffee with guayusa. I drink coffee every morning and love it – don’t think I’ll be able to give it up. Tea is my afternoon drink of choice, but now black teas are becoming too strong caffeine-wise so I have been neglecting them and drinking greens and oolongs exclusively. How would you compare the kind and level of “buzz” you get from guayusa to other caffeinated beverages (or tea types)?

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teaenvy said

the buzz is different. its stronger than black tea but it has a curiously calming effect too. as for sweetness its not sugary. more like the absence of bitterness causes your brain to fill in as sweet if that makes sense.
or maybe sweet like fresh oat grass root. not sugary just nice.

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I’m actually drinking it for the first time right now (thanks to being the lucky winner of a Steepster Select box!). Though, Missy had tried it before, and she said it tasted much better with Teavivre’s Blueberry Fruit that we received a sample of from Azzrian.

The guayusa has a… like a musty hay/grass taste to it. I second the ‘herbaceous’ comment. It’s got this sweet, swampy taste to it that I’m really only used to smelling in like a grass pile, or hay that has got wet and not dried correctly. That’s about all I can pin the flavor to.

The Berry definitely adds a nice flavor to it, I don’t think I’d like it as much otherwise.

Azzrian said

What fruit? (sorry inside joke at my expense of memory loss)

Hehe. You really sold Missy on that by the way. That’s going to be something we pick up with our Teavivre order for sure.

Missy said

It’s the perfect berry mix, not too sweet or too sour. I love it!

Azzrian said

I am going to have to get some of that myself. Something else to go on the wish list lol

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Tyler Gage said

Hello Steepster Community!

I’m one of the founders of Runa.org, the company that works with the Kichwa farmers in Ecuador to produce and import guayusa, so take everything I’m saying with a grain of salt :)

Of course I’m glad to see the dialog around guayusa, and if any one is interested in learning a bit more about guayusa we have an introductory presentation here:

http://www.runa.org/Libraries/Documents/Introduction_to_Guayusa.sflb.ashx

We’re also happy to mail out samples to any one of any of our guayusa blends if you send me a direct message. Art of Tea’s Happy Tea with guayusa is quite good, and I enjoy all of Stash’s blends quite a lot. Oregon Chai also has a chai with guayusa.

All the best,

Javan said

Thanks for the info, Tyler.

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I was under the impression this is a form or variation of mate, especially being as it’s from South America — is it something completely different?

Javan said

Check out this explanation on wikipedia. It does discuss the relationship of this type of holly and mate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilex_guayusa

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