Chances are, you’ve seen guayusa tea on shelves at the supermarket or coffee shop and wondered whether the tea’s endless purported health benefits are backed by science—or if you should write it off as just another trendy type of snake oil. “Definitely the former,” says Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN. “The brewed guayusa leaf provides sustained energy, mental clarity, and focus without feeling a crash.”
But what is guayusa, exactly? Guayusa (pronounced gwhy-you-sa) is a caffeine- and antioxidant-rich bright green leaf that comes from the holly tree native to the Amazon rainforest and most often cultivated in Ecuador. The leaves are traditionally dried and brewed to make herbal tea, or sold as an extract and added to beverages. “Guayusa tea is an excellent alternative to traditional sources of caffeine like coffee or soda, thanks to its unique biological makeup of caffeine and polyphenols,” says Rifkin.
Here’s what health benefits Rifkin says you’ll reap from sipping this superfood tea.
Guayusa tea contains around 100 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. This is slightly more than what most coffee offers and is considered a relatively concentrated amount. “Whether you’re looking for a morning energy boost or need an afternoon pick-me-up, the natural caffeine found in guayusa is a concentrated source that comes along with plenty of health-promoting compounds as well,” explains Rifkin.
According to Rifkin, caffeine acts as a stimulant and can aid in mental sharpness. “When consumed in combination with theobromine, both of which are found in guayusa, these two compounds have been shown to improve mood and cognition without any negative side effects on blood pressure.”
This amino acid found in guayusa houses a wide array of benefits, from promoting relaxation to aiding in blood pressure control and improving the function of your immune system. Rifkin says that L-theanine has also been found to improve focus, especially when in combination with caffeine.
Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Antioxidants are health-promoting compounds that provide endless benefits, like protecting cells from damage and fighting against inflammation, and are often found most concentrated in plant-based items. Guayusa is no exception here—it boasts a wide array of antioxidants including flavonols, like catechins and carotenoids.
How to Drink Guayusa Tea
Guayusa tea is super easy to brew at home. Simply steep about 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf guayusa tea leaves in boiling water for about six minutes and strain. You can also look for bottled or canned beverages that contain guayusa. We love the guayusa drinks from RUNA, which come in delicious flavors like watermelon, berry, and blood orange—and offer as much caffeine as coffee and twice the antioxidants of green tea per serving.
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