Review: Zen Tara Tea Organic Amazonian Guayusa Tea

Herbal Tea, Zen Tara Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It indeed reminded me of green yerba mate without the bitterness, and that sweetness on the back was still present."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.5/10
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I don't know what it is about our southern neighbors, but not only can any plant be turned into a "tea" of some sort, but they also pack a punch. Brazil, the 'Guays, and Bolivia have their yerba mate, Peru possesses its controversial mate de coca, which is illegal in the State *because* of the punch it delivers. And now Ecuador. The variety of plant they cultivate for wake-up drinks is a type of holly tree (Ilex guayusa). Like yerba mate, it contains caffeine - perhaps a lot of it - but activates at a slower pace than either real tea or coffee. Indigenous hunters of Ecuador sometimes call it "Night Watchman" for it's assist in remaining alert at night. I could've used something like that while working graveyard shifts.

Zen Tara Tea, in cooperation with Runa - a rainforest restoration op - organized a fair trade deal for cultivating and distributing the mysterious plant. Knowledge of the product came to me via Twitter where I noticed a textbite from the company about it. I instantly had to buy some. The exploration of new herbal tisanes was somewhat of a sub-hobby within my tea geekery. Past quests included Greek Mountain, greenthread...and now guayusa. Why they all seem to start with a "G" is purely coincidental.

The dry batch was unusual on presentation. Not only were the cut leaves present - in their myriad shades of green - but so were long-cut stems of varying size. The aroma on first inhale was very herbaceous, minty, and faintly sweet. It reminded me of stinging nettle with whole stevia leaf or unroasted yerba mate. And it was very similar to that...illegal Peruvian "tea".

Brewing instructions were what I expected, fairly liberal, it was an herb after all. The site's recommendation called for 1 tsp of leaves added to 8oz of boiled water, steeped for three-to-four minutes. Had this been a normal tea, I would've infused for the minimum time; if a normal herbal, the full four minutes. This was neither, so I middle-grounded it at three-minutes-thirty.

At the middling time, the infusion brewed to a pale off-green with a spinachy scent emanating from the mouthpiece. It reminded me strongly of stinging nettle at that point, or its milder cousin, Hawaiian mamaki. The flavor, though, contradicted the nettle comparison, settling on a very leafy drink but not as strong on the vegetal note. It indeed reminded me of green yerba mate without the bitterness, and that sweetness on the back was still present; again much like a certain illegal Peruvian beverage.

The best factor at play here was how relaxing it seemed to drink, followed by a metaphoric kick in the pants. One certainly feels the revitalizing effects of this beverage, no matter how lethargic they may feel. I certainly did. The best part being, of course, that the wake-up doesn't hit like a coffee jolt. If I ever work the night shift again, I'd call upon this Night Watchman.

— To purchase Zen Tara Tea Organic Amazonian Guayusa Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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