The Kichwa People of Ecuador: What Does Guayusa Tea Mean To Them?
If you travel to where the Ecuadorian Amazon meets the foothills of the Andes Mountain Range, you’ll find the Kichwa tribe People of Ecuador.
The Kichwa People are an ancient Andean tribe, with a strong connection to the forest and animals. They believe that humans, plants and animals are all equal. But more than that, they have a strong connection to Guayusa (why-you-sa) – a super leaf that’s picked, dried and brewed in this region. But for them, Guayusa is so much more than a cup of tea. It’s an ancient ritual, a source of connection, their medicine and their livelihood.
So, Why Is Guayusa Tea So Important To The Kichwa People?
It’s a morning ritual
Every morning, the Kichwa People of Ecuador gather before the sun rises. They light a village fire and sit around a large cauldron of Guayusa tea. Here, they share stories, rituals and dreams before they start their day.
Drinking Guayusa together also plays a central role in “conviviality” – or convivencia in Spanish – which emphasises the need for building close relationships.
It’s a chance to teach
Drinking Guyausa each morning is seen as an opportunity to pass down knowledge. The adults often weave fishing nets, make shoulder bags, shape hunting tools, play music and tell stories – teaching their children practical knowledge, lessons and morals along the way. Elders often interpret dreams amongst the tribe, and the interpretations are then used to guide actions for the day ahead.
It’s a cup of health
Guayusa is more than a connection to each other, it’s a way to honour your body. It is best known for its natural energy boost (without the jitters that you get from a cup of coffee). Guayusa is also rich in antioxidants, amino acids and essential vitamins and minerals. Research suggests it can boost energy, promote immunity, aid weight loss, stabilise blood sugar and improve your mood.
The Kichwa People also drink Guayusa to calm body aches, increase fertility and libido, cleanse the mouth and avoid insect and snake bites.
It’s a source of income
Did you know that almost 98% of Guayusa Leaves (grown on a type of Holly Tree) can be found in Ecuador? So naturally, Indigenous Kichwa Tribes are working to spread the wonders of Guayusa around the world.
This means that it’s not only a cup of health and connection – it’s their income and way of life.
At Ayusa Tea, we’re proud to partner with ethical suppliers who pay Kichwa Farmers 15% above Fairtrade wage. This ensures we’re supporting the community that gives us access to such a wonderful plant.
It creates a sustainable Amazon
Guayusa is grown organically as an agroforestry crop, which means that the Guayusa leaves are grown within the Amazon Rainforest, not instead of it. There’s a big difference. You see, Guayusa leaves thrive in the shade of large canopies, which means the natural vegetation remains unaffected. In fact, Guayusa even helps to restore areas that have suffered from deforestation in the past.
Guayusa And The Rest Of The World
Guayusa doesn’t just benefit the Kichwa People of Ecuador. We believe that the entire world can benefit from this nourishing plant.
But more than that, perhaps we can learn something from the Kichwa Tribes connection to place and each other. In our fast-paced lives, this Amazonian leaf is a chance to slow down. A chance to stop and smell the Guayusa.
Ready to discover the wonders of Guayusa? At Ayusa Tea, we donate $1 from every single tea canister sold to the Ecuadorian Foundation Conciencia Amazonica – so they can continue sharing Guayusa with the world. Shop our range today.