Runa - Amazonian Guayusa Spice - 16 Tea Bags (1.13 oz / 32 g)
Runa Amazonian Guayusa Spice is a naturally caffeinated herbal supplement, contained in individually wrapped infusers. An Amazonian blend of energizing guayusa with full-bodied cinnamon and aromatic lemongrass. Guayusa (why-you-sa) provides balanced, sustainable energy without bitterness, jitters, or crash. A good source of antioxidants.
Guayusa, a natural, delicious source of energy and nutrition from the Amazon, provides clear and focused energy - what the native Kichwa people call "mental strength and courage." A caffeinated holly leaf native to Ecuador, guayusa contains an exceptional balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids for your whole body and mind.
Known for its stimulating effects, indigenous hunters drink guayusa to sharpen their instincts. They call it the "Night Watchman" because it helps them stay awake and alert all night.
- Ingredients: Organic RUNA Guayusa
- 16 infusers in a box
- Certified Organic
- Certified Kosher
Runa believes it's time for new kind of energy. Energy that allows people to live a stimulating life: fully engaged and full of curiosity. Energy to do more of what they love and are called to do. Sustainable energy that attracts, connects, expands, and propels them into the world with a clear mind and an open heart.
Since guayusa is not related to traditional tea varieties made from the camellia sinensis plant, it has a distinct flavor that pleasantly surprises your tastes buds with the first sip. The most frequent comment is "Wow, the flavor is so smooth and clean," to which Runa responds, "Exactly, that is because guayusa does not contain the tannins that can give traditional teas a sharper astringency."
- Texture: Silky, Smooth, Clean, Round
- Aroma: Rich, Earthy
- Notes: Molasses, Caramel, Chicory
- Finish: Hint of Sweetness
You can also read a series of third party reviews of Runa's guayusa on the tea review website Steepster.com.
In an ancient tradition still practiced today, Amazonian families gather at dawn to drink guayusa from gourds around a communal fire. They come together during these early morning hours to share dreams, music and myths in a tradition that is essential to what makes them "Runa" - fully living human beings.
Preparation & Cupping
Cupping guayusa is a discovery of rich flavor and cultural tradition. Cupping is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed tea and coffee. We invite you to create a space to explore the full flavor and experience guayusa has to offer. Guayusa enjoys being shared in groups. The daily guayusa ritual in the Amazon is a gathering of friends and family where stories, dreams, and aspirations are shared while drinking gourds of guayusa from a communal pot. Sharing guayusa with your community and exploring its flavor replicates this 2000 year old Amazonian tradition.
- Tea Bag - Place one infuser into 1 cup of boiling water and let steep for 4 - 6 minutes.
- Tea Pot - Select your favorite tea pot and add 2 grams of guayusa (about 1 spoonful) per 8 oz. of water.
- French Press - The ease and class of a good old French Press. This Franco-Amazonian brewing method is one of our favorites.
- Sun Tea - Guayusa brewed by the light of the Sun. Add 2 grams of guayusa (about 1 spoonful) per 8 oz. in a large glass container and leave in the sun for 4 - 6 hours. Strain the guayusa and enjoy hot or cold.
Traditional Brewing Method
Guayusa is traditionally brewed by boiling whole leaves in a large clay pot on the fire for long periods of time. Farmers harvest whole guayusa leaves, form piles of approximately 15 leaves, fold them in half, and string many of these leaf packets together on a string, forming a large wreath known as a sarta. The sarta is then hung from the thatched roof of the hut over the fire to dry.
When tea time comes around every morning, the women remove a few of the now dried leaf packets and place them in a large clay pot on the fire. Traditionally, every family has one special black clay pot that they use only for brewing guayusa.
The leaves are left to boil in the water for anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 hours. Often times the pot will be left to brew overnight. Because guayusa does not have any tannins like other teas, it can be brewed for long periods of time and never acquires an astringent or dry flavor. Once the guayusa is ready, the mother dips a large gourd into the pot and pours servings into the individual gourd that each family member has.
Guayusa The Plant
Guayusa (botanical name ilex guayusa ) is not related to the camellia sinensis plant, the parent of white, green, oolong, and black teas. It is one of three caffeinated holly trees that exist in the world, and is a distant cousin of Yerba Maté (ilex paraguariensis ). Guayusa leaves have a smooth ribbed edge, similar to the distinctive shape of a holly tree leaf (but without the spikes). Very large in size, guayusa leaves can reach over 15 cm in length (about as long as your hand).
Guayusa trees can reach a height of over 50 feet and live to be over 100 years old. They tend to produce lots of small trunks on one bush, and therefore are full of leaves (perfect for harvesting).
While guayusa is endemic to the Upper Amazon regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, it is estimated that over 98% of the guayusa trees in the world are located in Ecuador.
Interestingly, guayusa does not produce fertile seeds. This unique botanical characteristic demonstrates the intricate role that guayusa has played with human development in the Amazon. Botanists believe that after being propagated asexually for hundreds of years, guayusa lost its ability to produce fertile seeds. Just as they depend on it for a health source of energy, it depends on them to keep growing.
Did you know that caffeine serves as a natural insect repellent? Botanists believe that plants first produced caffeine in order to give insects an unpleasant jolt to their nervous system when they eat a plant’s leaves. Runa strange creatures find it pleasant.
Curbing the Coffee Buzz with Guayusa
Tired of feeling agitated, crashing mid-afternoon, or having stomach irritation from too much coffee? If you’re trying to reduce or eliminate coffee from your diet, guayusa could serve as a helpful tool to help you reach your goal. Try substituting a cup of guayusa for your afternoon cup of coffee, or start your day off with a strong guayusa brew and see the difference.
- More balanced energy - no jitters or crash
With its unique blend of stimulating compounds and more caffeine than other teas, guayusa has what it takes to get you going. However, guayusa is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols that stabilize the release of caffeine in your blood stream.
- No Stomach Discomfort
Guayusa is very smooth on the stomach and doesn’t cause any of the stomach discomfort sometimes associated with drinking coffee. Coffee can be very acidic and thus harsh on the lining of your stomach.
- Good for your teeth
While coffee is known to be corrosive and discolouring to the teeth, many indigenous people actually use guayusa as a natural mouth wash.
Traditionally, indigenous families wake up together at dawn to drink guayusa. They sit around the communal fire drinking gourds full of guayusa until sunrise. During this time, the village elders teach the youth about ancestral myths, hunting techniques, social values, and about what it means to be “Runa” in the indigenous cosmovision. The guayusa ritual continues to be a cornerstone of Kichwa culture, a practice that brings the family and community together around the simple experience of drinking tea.
Community shamans, known as yachaks or rukus in Kichwa, will also play a traditional bamboo flute (known as kena) and a two-sided weasel-skin drum, and sing soft rhythmic songs during these early morning hours. The shamans also interpret dreams from the previous night, and make recommendations to guide the community and help them live in harmony with the rainforest. After drinking the first gourds of guayusa, children are often sent to go bathe in the river and receive its strength and cleansing for the day to come.
While many of the indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon grow coffee or tea (plants imported from other parts of the world), guayusa, in contrast, is a native plant of immense cultural importance and mythological significance. Growing guayusa and sharing it with an international community is a powerful way for the indigenous communities to appreciate their culture and recognize its value in the modern world. By drinking guayusa you give these farmers the opportunity to continue living and evolving as Runa.
As a testament to guayusa’s revered status as a powerful plant throughout South America, famous Harvard Ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes found a 1,500-year old bundle of guayusa leaves in a medicine man’s tomb high in the Bolivian Andes, far beyond the natural range of the plant.
Jesuit missionaries fell in love with guayusa in the 1700’s, and surrounded many of their missions in Ecuador and Colombia with bright, leafy guayusa trees.
Many indigenous communities say that guayusa is a plant teacher, and forms an important part of their shamanic traditions. Several myths recount how guayusa was the first plant that taught human beings how to dream, and how the ritual of getting up at dawn protects humans from wandering spirits in the night. Guayusa is said to teach people how to conquer fears and have poise and presence through difficulty.
Runa Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use tea bags or loose leaf guayusa?
Runa's tea bags are easy to use. They are made with the same high quality guayusa as their loose products. On the other hand, Runa's loose guayusa requires a lot less packaging, is a much better deal per pound, and is much more versatile. Many of their customers start off with tea bags, then graduate to loose leaf guayusa. It's really up to you!
How long will guayusa stay fresh if it is stored unopened?
Being a holly tree, guayusa leaves are very hardy and sturdy. The shelf life is two years for guayusa, and it can be left unopened for many months until the aroma begins to fade. However, it’s always preferable to store in a sealed tin or pouch in a dark, dry place.
What is the best way to store guayusa?
It is preferable to store guayusa in a dark, dry place. Avoid letting the herb contact air, water, or light. Keeping the unopened packages in a cupboard should be fine.
What does “Runa” mean?
Runa means “fully living human being” in the indigenous Kichwa language of the Ecuadorian Amazon. It is a term of immense cultural pride for the Kichwa people, and represents their company’s commitment to sharing the Kichwa’s rich cultural heritage with a global community.
How did the company start?
Three graduates from Brown University began working with several communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon to manifest a shared vision of bringing this ancestral tea to market through an innovative Fair Trade system. President Tyler Gage had been working in the Amazon for over 4 years, and the whole Runa team is passionate about using Fair Trade business as a way to support the sustainable development of local communities.
Is this tea?
No. Guayusa is produced from the leaves of a caffeinated Amazonian holly tree (ilex guayusa), and is not related to the tea plant (camellia sinensis ) that produces green and black tea. A more accurate description for guayusa would be a "caffeinated herbal tea" or a "tisane," the French word used to describe herbal infusions that are prepared and enjoyed like tea.
Is this like yerba maté?
Guayusa (Ilex guayusa) is the Amazonian cousin of yerba maté (ilex paraguariensis ) from the Atlantic Rainforest in and around Argentina. Both are caffeinated rainforest holly trees, yet while mate has a strongly bitter flavor, guayusa has a nice smooth taste. Thankfully guayusa did not inherit the bitter gene like yerba maté. Instead, guayusa is silky and clean with a sweet finish, while providing similar benefits as maté.
How much caffeine does one cup contain?
One cup of guayusa has 90 mg of caffeine, which is more than other teas but less than coffee.
Does guayusa actually have caffeine or a different stimulant?
Guayusa does have caffeine, but is also composed of other stimulating “methyl xanthine alkaloids,” theophyline, also found in green tea, and theobromine, the stimulant in dark chocolate that gives you that soothing, pleasant feeling. Therefore, guayusa is a unique stimulant, offering a balanced lift of energy.
Where is the company based?
Runa's exotic Amazonian guayusa company is ironically headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. Runa also has two offices in Ecuador, one in Quito, and one in the Amazon. Runa's 20-plus person team uses virtual communication technologies like Skype and Google to connect internationally on a daily basis. Though much of Runa’s work is mobile, the heart of the company is in face-to-face community work. Runa’s Amazon field team works directly with over 800 indigenous farmers, providing technical assistance, and harvesting shade-grown guayusa.
Where is guayusa grown?
Guayusa is grown almost exclusively in the upper Amazonian region of Ecuador. It grows where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon rainforest, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Guayusa is harvested from trees that are grown under the shaded canopy of the rainforest setting, giving local farmers an economic incentive to conserve the rainforest.
What are the tea bags made out of?
Runa's pyramid infusers are 100% biodegradable and made from recycled cornhusks.
Is guayusa organic certified?
Runa has completed USDA organic certification with its network of guayusa farmers in the Amazon. 100% of the other herbs they blend with are certified organic.
Is guayusa Fair Trade certified?
Runa is currently working with TransFair USA to certify the supply chain they have built using Fair Trade standards. Runa expect the review and certification process will take another few months.
Runa's Commitment to Quality & Sustainability
- 100% organic ingredients
- Runa believes in a New Kind of Energy: Runa is designed to give you energy that allows you to live a stimulating life; energy to do more of what you love and are called to do.
- No artificial ingredients
- No added flavors: Runa only uses 100% organic herbs in their blends, and never adds extracts, flavorings, or oils.
- Direct connection to the source - Runa works directly with indigenous farmers and purchases guayusa from the family farms of hundreds of Kichwa families. Unlike other tea companies that claim they source directly and make occasional visits to farms, their local agronomists are in the field providing technical assistance to farmers 365 days of the year.
- Amazon-azingly delicious - Runa won’t launch a product until they love it and enjoy large gourds full of it ourselves!
- Environmentally Friendly Packaging - Runa does everything they can to choose the most ecologically sound and low impact options for packaging, transport, and production. And if they can’t, they will tell you why!
- Sustainability should be a given. Runa doesn’t need to wear their sustainability on their sleeves, and expect that every company should deeply analyze their impacts and leverage their resources for the better.
Runa Origin Story
Runa began as a conversation over tea, during the hours before sunrise in the Amazon rainforest. In the winter of 2008, a team of students traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon to participate in an ancestral tea ceremony with the Kichwa people - a tradition of storytelling, music, and learning – all centered around a large boiling pot of guayusa tea over a burning fire. While drinking guayusa tea together, the communities shared a vision to expand their circle and bring their traditional daily guayusa tea to friends around the world.
Collectively, they envisioned a business that could share this rich-tasting tea – a business that would respect cultural traditions, support small farmers, and maintain the integrity of the Amazon rainforest.
Runa, meaning “fully living human being,” continues to grow from this seed of conversation and exchange. Runa is energized to share this tea tradition with a global community.