Over the last few years, guayusa (pronounced “gwhy-you-suh”) has exploded onto the health scene and become a new favorite for tea connoisseurs. Nicknamed the “Night Watchman” due to its energizing properties, this South American plant has been integrated into numerous tea mixes, energy drinks, and skin care products. But what is guayusa? And what are the benefits of guayusa for your health? The experts at TEA.L break it all down for you.
Origins & History
Derived from the Amazonian holly tree, guayusa is a leaf that is consumed by brewing like tea, even though it's not related to the same tea plant that produces green and black tea. Guayusa is native to the rainforests of Ecuador and is largely exported by the indigenous Kichwa people. Ten years ago, guayusa was little known outside of this region, though archeological evidence indicates that the plant has been part of South American culture since as early as 500 C.E. Today, customers can buy guayusa in natural food stores, tea shops, and online retailers.
The flavor of guayusa is smooth, earthy, and sweet. Guayusa is most similar to yerba mate, but without the bitterness. Some tea drinkers can also taste hints of floral ingredients in guayusa, and have described the texture as somewhat creamy. As with other types of tea, the flavor profile of guayusa can change depending on how long you steep it.
Caffeine Content of Guayusa
Guayusa is known for having more caffeine than most types of tea, and has a caffeine content similar to coffee. However, the effects of caffeinated guayusa are different than the effects found in coffee. The L-theanine content of guayusa, also found in green tea, has a relaxing effect on the brain and body, offering a sort of "calm energy." The theobromine content also tempers the caffeine in guayasa, giving guayusa drinkers the benefit of alertness while avoiding the jitters or overactivity associated with too much coffee.
Antioxidants in Guayusa
Guayusa is rich in polyphenols, which are special nutrients filled with antioxidants and consumed through plant-based foods. Polyphenols and antioxidants are known for fighting against free radicals that cause cell damage, thereby reducing the chance of disease and slowing the aging process. Guayusa is believed to contain 30% more polyphenols than green tea. Like coffee, the guayusa plant is also packed with chlorogenic acids, which are polyphenols correlated to health benefits such as improved glucose and insulin regulation, lower blood pressure, increased metabolism, and strong cardiovascular health.
Benefits of Guayusa
A lot of the benefits of guayusa are anecdotal after centuries of use by indigenous people. Some of these include improving digestion, relieving body pain, and preventing aging skin. Research shows that antioxidants such as those found in guayusa can have positive effects on the body, and in recent years, a few studies have been conducted to further investigate guayusa itself as a healthy drink. Since food and beverage products affect individuals differently, TEA.L does not endorse any particular medical claims and specific questions on an individual's health should be directed to a physician. However, an overview of the possible health benefits of guayusa include:
Regulate blood sugar
Studies have shown that guayusa contains high amounts of ursolic acid, a substance that activates the TGR5 receptor in the body and regulates blood sugar. As a result, guayusa tea may have a positive effect in preventing or managing diabetes.
A few animal studies have indicated that there might be a correlation between guayusa and weight loss. The nutrients in guayusa can accelerate fat burning processes, thereby decreasing triglycerides and lipid levels which lead to fat being stored around the body. The chlorogenic acid content in guayusa also helps to boost fat metabolism, further suppressing appetite and aiding in weight loss. In addition, opting for guayusa tea over a sugary beverage like soda or juice will also lower caloric intake and could be a benefit in weight loss.
The caffeine combined with catechins, theobromine, and theanine in guayusa will give consumers a steady stream of energy, rather than a “crash and burn” result like other caffeinated beverages like espresso or energy shots. More specifically, the catechins in guayusa ensure that caffeine is released gradually rather than all at once, giving the tea drinker sustained energy and mental focus.
Remember how guayusa has a high concentration of theanine? Some studies have shown that theanine can reduce inflammation in the arteries, thus lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health. Theanine’s “anti-stress” effects can also lower cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
Want to experience the benefits of guayusa for yourself? Shake up your morning ritual by brewing a cup, or incorporate this tea into your skin care routine. TEA.L features skin care products that are deeply infused with guayusa, letting your skin absorb the antioxidants and experience a new feeling of hydration. Explore our selection of products today.