Well, we’ve got lots of information to convey this week, so let me get right to it and start by saying it is pronounced (“why-you-suh”). Think Foghorn Leghorn: “Why-you-suh, I say, you sir, are about to experience an amazing new tea!”
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.
I was debating what sort of blend we should create with this new ingredient, and Sheri kept insisting it needed to be a lemon blend. I thought lemon was kind of plain, but it did sound good. The problem I saw was that as bold as the guayusa is, it would take some serious doing to convince it to take on any other flavors. But that’s just what we did: I pulled out all the stops to give this bold guayusa a nice gentle (but noticeable) lemon nudge. We added lemon myrtle, lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemon peel and some sun-dried lemon slices along with natural lemon flavors.
In the process, we created what I’m going to refer to as Lemon Aid, which is a blend of (yup:) lemon myrtle, lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemon peel and some sun-dried lemon slices along with natural lemon flavors–which I felt was bold and awesome enough that perhaps some folks would like to make a tea out of, or perhaps add in with whatever teas they are steeping for a little extra lemon zing.
So, our tea of the week this week is Lemolicious Ecuadorian Guayusa (Sheri insisted on the name too). But we also have a little bit of unflavored guayusa (Not very much!) and some of our Lemon Aid. Enjoy!