Every day, Dan MacCombie and Tyler Gage work to improve the lives of more than 3,000 indigenous Ecuadorian farmers, and each year they plant over 150,000 trees in the Amazon. They also happen to sell a smooth-sipping energy-boosting drink made from certified organic guayusa leaves: Runa (which means “fully alive” or “fully living human being” in Kichwa). Not familiar with guayusa (gwhy-you-sa)? Neither was Tyler before he went to work with indigenous communities in South America. There, he had a life-changing experience: “I tasted guayusa tea, a traditional beverage the native communities drink in early morning tea ceremonies, and was amazed by the nice energy it gave me and appreciated the great flavor,” he says.
The drink, which is brewed in the same fashion as tea, contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as coffee, but it sports super-benefits like amino acids for circulation, chlorogenic acids for high blood pressure and twice the antioxidants found in green tea. Unlike tea, it contains no bitter tannins, meaning each sip has that smooth flavor with sweet carmel notes, that Tyler loved so much on first taste. Tyler and Dan have made it easy to get your hands on that same burst of clean, Fair Trade guayusa energy: The tea is grown in the upper Amazon region of Ecuador but their products are available in some 2,400 stores all over the country. This summer, we plan on sipping on the brand’s new selection of drinks sweetened with Vermont maple syrup ($1.99 for 14 oz.) when we’re lagging. And for days when purity is our MO, we’ll look to the unsweetened guayusa ($1.99 for 14 oz.) that zips with organic lime juice concentrate. But truthfully, Runa is so good that we need no excuse to open a bottle.