Ecuadorian Guayusa from 52Teas

This is a fairly new to the market {en:tisane} that I’m really very excited about.  I purchased this unflavored {en:guayusa} after first trying 52Teas Lemolicious Ecuadorian Guayusa, and feeling a little lost on how to review it since I really had no idea of what guayusa tasted like.  So, I decided to order this and try it so that I could educate myself!

And it’s really quite good.  It reminds me a bit of a yerba maté, but it’s different.  It also reminds me a bit of a very strong Black Tea, but it’s different.  And it reminds me a bit of pu-erh, but it’s different!  So, stick with me here, and I’ll do my best to try to explain to you what I’m experiencing!

52Teas describes the aroma of {en:guayusa} as earthy and vegetative, and I concur.  There is a stronger leaning toward the earthy than the vegetative.  The brewed liquor is an odd color.  It is sort of like an opaque brown/green/gray color and it’s not the prettiest hue.  I recommend you use a very fine mesh strainer (or perhaps a T-Sac) to eliminate any of the little tiny bits of leaf from your cup.  The scent is not as strong as that of the dry leaf, but it remains a bit earthy and vegetative.

The flavor is really good.   Bold but astonishingly smooth and well-rounded on the palate.  There are earthy notes and vegetative notes – very similar to what you might get when you taste a yerba maté.  But, where the yerba maté is a little more vegetative than earthy (at least, with green yerba maté), this is more earthy than vegetative.  But the contrast is less stark here, it is almost like a well blended earthy, vegetative taste.   The flavor is also robust like a good, hearty Assam but without the malty, toothsome quality you’d experience from a good Assam.  The earthy notes also remind me a bit of a weak pu-erh.  There is also a pleasant undertone of sweetness.

But here’s the best part.  If you’re a tea drinker of any amount of experience, you sort of prepare yourself automatically for the astringency that will hit the palate.  It is almost an auto-response for seasoned tea drinkers.  Not that astringency is a bad thing; but that’s another story, because here’s the thing:  there is NO astringency to this.  No bitterness.  It is just smooth and delicious.

52Teas describes this tisane as:

A little while back, 52teas was contacted by a representative from Runa, a new company that is working to create a supply chain for Ecuadorian guayusa [they are actually doing much more than that, but more on that in a minute]. They contacted us to tell us about this amazing new tisane and wanted to know if we would be interested in creating blends with it to offer to our customers. I don’t think they had any idea what an easy sale they had on their hands. 52teas try something new? Nah. We wouldn’t do that, would we? Well, yes, we would, and we do, every week, 52 weeks per year.

Anyway, we got our shipment of guayusa in, and we didn’t waste much time tearing into it. Here’s the skinny on this fantastic new tisane: Opening the package reveals small, dark, leafy bits, dark green and somewhat vegetal and earthy smelling, maybe a bit more on the earthy than vegetal side. When you brew it up, the first thing you notice is WOW it is REALLY dark, like close to opaque in a clear glass kind of dark. The earthy scent subsides a little. It’s still there, but now it’s starting to smell more like a very rich black tea. The first sip makes you think you over-steeped it. It’s very, very bold and rich, but just as you brace yourself for that bitter astringency of tea over-steeped, you realize, it’s not coming. This tea has absolutely NO astringency. It’s just a full, round, rich, flavorful pleasantness. It reminds me slightly of a pu-erh, but not quite so earthy. It’s actually probably more like the boldest breakfast blend you can find, brewed as strong as you can make it, but missing even the slightest hint of that tongue-drying astringency. As a former pipe-smoker (tomorrow is four weeks without smoking, go me!), this puts me in mind of a nice bowl of black cavendish with just a touch of burley but without any tongue-bite. I miss my pipe. Okay, anyway….

I brought some of the guayusa home to share with my wife, who really enjoyed it as well. In her words: “It’s like really dark tea that doesn’t get bitter.” Sheri pretty much prefers Rooibos, honeybush, green and White Teas over black teas. When she has a black tea, I often have to ask her if she’s drinking tea or just dirty water. She remarked after drinking the guayusa that the reason she drinks such diluted black tea is because she can’t stand the bitter astringency of black tea, but that this has none and she loved it.

If you are a tea drinker who sometimes thinks that black tea gets a little too astringent for you, I highly suggest trying this!  You might find a new favorite morning drink.  And this is a strongly caffeinated beverage (it’s got the power of coffee without the jitters!) so I recommend drinking this at the start of your day, rather than toward the end!

It’s really delicious!  This unflavored guayusa appears to be sold out at 52Teas, but, so far, 52Teas has come up with two blends containing guayusa:  Lemolicious (a very delicious lemon-aid-y beverage) and Rainforest Chai (which I’ve ordered and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival).  Now that I’m more familiar with the flavor of guayusa, I look forward to more blends using this new herb.  A chocolate one would be awesome!  Just sayin’!

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