3 min read

Amazon Spice Guayusa (Runa)

Those who’ve been reading for a while know that I am emboldened by the love of culture. The people of the world are so outwardly similar, but with tiny differences intermingled throughout their daily lives which makes all of us so amazing.

Celebrating these differences can be complex, or simple. In the case of tea, the preparation, presentation and contents of the teas often offer a glimpse into the needs and attributes of a culture’s daily needs.

Today’s review is for Amazon Spice Guayusa (why-yu-sah). Not technically a tea, it comes from a holly plant in the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador, and is being popularized rather quickly by Runa.

Quick Info
FAB* Rating 3/2/2
Company Runa
Blend Name Amazonian Spice
Blend Base Herbal/Tisane
Country of Origin Ecuador
Package Type Pouch
Price per Package $5.99 USD
Quantity ~ 1.5 oz
*Flavor, Aroma, Boldness

There are only a few things in this world which get me eagerly excited. One is definitely new Apple products. Having worked for them in the past makes me biased, I know. But there’s always been something fun about shiny new toys! Another is wonderful food and drink.

And finally, there’s people. I love people. I’d shout that from the rooftops. Sure, we can all be individually frustrating at times. But ultimately people are fascinating. Why we do what we do, the way we do it and the changes from one group of people to the next are ultimately fascinating to think about.

What possesses someone to pick the leaves of camelia sinensis or or ilex guayusa and poach them in hot water to drink the broth is probably lost to time, but still curious. Sure, we have our theories and stories of cultural myth and legend. Those are fun to tell, but ultimately don’t really give us the real answer.

Regardless of the mysteries behind steeping leaves, they do produce  wonderfully variegated flavors. Guayusa in particular is similar to yerba mate but without the bitterness. It’s naturally caffeinated and comes from a similar holly leaf plant.

Runa Guayusa Tea
Runa Guayusa Tea @ World Tea Expo 2010

At the 2010 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas I met the Runa team for the first time. Charlie Harding who formed the Runa Foundation was there touting this newfangled thing called Guayusa.

Daniel was kind enough to specially pack and send me some loose leaf samples of the four Guayusa flavors. But it should be noted that Runa only distributed bagged Guayusa at the time. You can now buy loose directly from them!

But enough about that, let’s dig in!.

Not only does guayusa come from a similar plant to yerba mate, but the leaves look very similar as well! Green and brown choppy and sharp edged leaves mix and mingle with blades of lemongrass and tiny cinnamon chunks for a simple but quality visual.

The aroma is pure and light. While the lemongrass exists, it’s more the cinnamon you catch in the scent. There’s the hint of mildly sweetened spice married to an attractive autumn grassy scent. This is true both brewed and dry.

Visually the liquor is light. Less red than expected, and much greener.

On the palate the brew is light and thin. There’s the spicy warmth of the cinnamon that’s present throughout with the a sour citrus twinge from the lemongrass. This combination is light and pleasant.

With how bitter yerba mate is, it’s boldness is striking. Guayusa on the other hand is very mild in comparison. I expected a much stronger brew, but was pleasantly surprised with a light sweet touch in the finish.

I don’t think a sweetener is warranted for this brew, but should you feel the necessity to lighten it up a bit, I recommend something simple and light.