Guayusa is the dried leaves and stems of a South American rainforest holly plant which is a close botanical relative of Yerba Mate. A tall tree that's native to the upper Amazonian regions of Ecuador, northeastern Peru, and southwestern Columbia, guayusa has been collected only rarely by botanists in the wild and is known almost exclusively as a cultivated plant.
Traditionally, the indigenous cultures of Ecuador boiled guayusa leaves in water and drank the tea for its stimulating effects. Indigenous hunters often drink guayusa to sharpen their instincts and refer to it as the “Night Watchman” since it helps them stay awake and alert. There is also anthropological evidence that this herb may have been traded, as famous Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes found a 1500-year-old bundle of guayusa leaves in a shaman’s tomb high in the Bolivian Andes, far beyond the natural range of the plant.
This tea infuses into a cloudy green, uplifting brew, and has a flavor similar to Yerba Mate with a somewhat grassy undertone. It's a delicious choice for those times when some added mental clarity and alertness would go a long way, and pairs beautifully with a pinch of mint!