If you are looking for a healthy, satisfying alternative to your morning Cup of Joe, you might consider guayusa. Guayusa is a warm, comforting beverage that boosts your energy without the jolt provided by coffee. A cup of guayusa delivers as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, and twice as much as a cup of tea, but without causing the jitters that sometimes accompany coffee.

Guayusa comes from the Ecuadorean Amazon. It is a tree leaf brewed by the native people of the rainforest over millennia. It has traditionally been prepared every morning before sunrise, and families would gather around the fire to share stories and myths.

Indigenous Kichwa women rely on guayusa to relieve menopausal symptoms, treat problems of the liver and stomach, and soothe aches and pains while supporting pregnancy. According to the elders, guayusa helps people remember dreams and connect more deeply to the natural world. They say it can induce lucid dreaming; it is also called the “watchman’s plant.”

Today, farmers grow guayasa to foster diversity in the ecological habitat of the rainforest. There is a strong market of sellers and buyers.

Although guayusa is not a tea, the leaves are dried and steeped in hot water in a similar manner. Guayusa does not contain the tannins present in tea, so the flavor is less astringent. It has a delicious fruity flavor and a creamy texture. You can re-steep the leaves five or six times before they begin to lose flavor.

This beverage also has twice the antioxidants found in tea, so it a powerful weapon against free radicals, aging and cancer.

In addition, guayusa contains:

Theobromine – a compound found in raw chocolate. It reduces inflammation and blood pressure, and is a diuretic.

Plyphenois, flavanoids, and saponins – all phyto-chemicals, believed to have cancer fighting benefits. These are also potent antioxidants that reduce inflammation and stimulate the immune system.

L-Theanine – an amino acid that produces dopamine, the hormone that gives you a feeling of wellbeing. It also calms the mind as it enhances alertness. It increases focus, improves memory, and supports the ability to learn.

Other components of guayusa are potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium, and vitamins D and C.