In recent years, the concept of nootropics has become far more acceptable. Whereas they used to be associated mainly with the cyberpunk and hacker cultures, they’re now a respectable part of many people’s professional toolkits.
In case you haven’t heard, nootropics are nominally non-harmful substances used to increase mental performance – coffee is certainly a nootropic, while spinach and free-range eggs also fit the bill. You can also take concentrated melatonin to regulate your sleep cycle, or creatine to boost short-term memory.
In between the extremes of eating healthily and swallowing questionable pills, though, there is also a middle way: taking mostly-unknown but safe herbal supplements in their natural form in order to improve alertness and concentration. We’ve previously talked about yerba mate, which is also native to South America and similar in some respects to Guayusa tea.
Like yerba mate, this herb is packed with antioxidants and other nutrients. Guayusa, however, seems to have a much more noticeable effect and will, in fact, keep you from falling asleep if you have some too late in the day. Also, like ginseng, with regular consumption it seems to raise your day-to-day energy levels, even once the caffeine and other components have worn off.
It smells a little like dried basil, but doesn’t really have any strong flavor. The aroma is not unpleasant, but guayusa won’t hold a candle to real coffee from an epicure’s perspective. On the other hand, it also doesn’t cause acid reflux and other problems in people who are sensitive to caffeine. Nor is it a strong diuretic; it won’t make you pee as much. It also, unlike coffee, produces a kind of relaxed alertness instead of tending to increase your anxiety levels.
We prefer this brand partly because of its sustainability credentials: instead of clearing large swathes of land and practicing a monoculture system, indigenous farmers cultivate guayusa on small plots within the Amazon rainforest. This is more environmentally friendly, financially supports communities that are still in the process of transitioning to the 21st century, and allows the plant to mature in the environment it finds most congenial.
The latter may account for this brand’s superior quality, too. This tea is not bitter at all and can readily be combined with ingredients like honey, lemon juice, and rosemary. The manufacturer also sifts its product after drying, to remove dust that can otherwise lead to a cloudy, gritty tea. If you really can’t stand the sight of an actual leaf or twig in your cup, though, you can also order guayusa in teabag form.