Energy and Focus in your Tea

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“Dear Pharmacist,

I didn’t like tea growing up but now it is a passion. I often want a caffeinated drink that isn’t coffee. I used to drink a lot of yerba mate tea, because it lights me and increases my mental focus and energy. I’ve discovered Guayusa now.”

Guayusa is pronounced “gwhy-you-suh” and it’s been enjoyed for centuries in other parts of the world. Local growers who live in the Amazon rainforest grow this on small farms and I feel good about supporting them. Guayusa isn’t technically a “tea,” it’s an herb that comes from the holly tree (Ilex guayusa), which has nothing to do with the tea plant Camellia sinensis that gives us black and green tea.

Drink Guayusa early in the day because it gives you a lift, similar to coffee but less jolt and jitters. It is not black tea, and it’s not green tea. This is an herbal tea so that should be okay for people with stones, however make sure you it’s right for you especially if you have hypertension, heart disease or kidney stones.

I’m an avid tea maker, and I have noticed that guayusa is a more forgiving of the cook time. By that I mean if I let the yerba mate boil too long, it gets very bitter. With guayusa, it’s still good if you overcook it. It’s less ‘grassy’ than yerba mate and sweeter, so I don’t need to add too much honey which is nice for my insulin and glucose levels! It tastes more like green tea than anything else if I have to compare it to something. Guayusa is very healthy because it contains natural antioxidants and polyphenols. These ingredients are known to improve metabolism and blood sugar, and protect your cells from oxidation (cellular rusting).

If you’re on a budget, you’ll love guayusa because you can re-steep the herb numerous times. So one tablespoon can be re-steeped 6 times. After that the flavor (and healing goodies) are all gone. The amount of focus and energy you get will also start to wane the more frequently you steep the same herb. My hope is that some of you addicted to caffeine and coffee might be able to break your addiction little by little by adding guayusa (or yerba mate).  The potential for allergies with this herb exists, just like it does with any herb or drug.

You can drink guayusa hot or cold. You can also add other herbals while brewing it, like a leaf of peppermint, or some ginger or cinnamon. If you’re too busy to brew your own, just buy commercially prepared drinks. Look in the refrigerator section because some health food stores sell this bottled and chilled. You can buy prepared tea bags, instead of bulk herb. I’ve tried Runa brand and appreciate all the flavors, and the fact that it’s non-GMO. I travel and find myself in different time zones, or on red-eye flights so there’s always a teabag in my purse.