By Katy Killilea
Caffeine-addicted parents cherish that first hot sip from the morning cup. We need it more than food. More than companionship. It’s painful to converse before the hot morning beverage. Children warn each other, “Leave her alone. She didn’t have her drink yet.” While I’d never try to convert a coffee user, there are two local companies offering alternatives worth your consideration.
Runa is a local (headquartered right on Power Street on the East Side) company offering guayusa (pronounced why YOU suh). To make the drink, you steep dried leaves, just as you would for tea. Guayusa promises all the caffeine of coffee, but with no jitters and no mid-morning crash. It’s not the same as South America’s yerba mate, but may be its more potent Central American cousin. It’s promise is very appealing: drink it and you’ll be alert, yet relaxed. The PR materials make guayusa sound almost illegal: “as you take your first sip, you may feel a slight tingle down your spine, or a smile creeping over your face. These are the rejuvenating effects of this enchanting leaf.” It brews up dark like black tea, but tastes fresh and herby. As promised, it got my brain humming, jitterlessly. Guayusa is grown sustainably in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and Runa’s mission is to improve theÂ lives of Ecuadorian farmers economically, environmentally, and socially. At $14 for 100 grams, it’s not Tetley. But it’s a small price to pay for a rainforest adventure in a cup, the potential for mind-altering benefits, and for all of the goodwill this small, local company is bundling up in each package.
At our house, when we’re not deep in a pot of guyusa, we drink black tea. Strong black tea. PG Tips, served with a glug of milk. I love my morning drink, and wasn’t looking for a replacement. But recently at The Duck and Bunny I had the nicest pot of tea (organic Ceylon, to be exact). It came from Tea Guys in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Tea Guys offers a dazzling menu of loose teas, some with very silly sounding flavors (Carrot Cake, Green Walnut), with a range of caffeine levels. For serious caffeine, try Morning Americano (170 grams, $10) which combines a little bit of ground cocoa bean with black tea. Not sure what varieties to try? Order samples (for $2.25 Tea Guys will send enough leaves for about 4 cups.)
What do you like best in your morning cup? Share your favorites with us.
Editors note: Runa and Tea Guys provided samples for review.