Product Leak: The Super-Leaf That Will Knock Your Socks Off

It seems like South America’s got a lot of earthy treasures in its lush backyard. Sadly for us, we’ve only just started unearthing them.

Take, for example, quinoa, native to Bolivia and heralded as one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein. The Incas have known about it for thousands of years, growing this “mother grain” high up in the Andes. So why did it only recently become a household name worldwide?

The latest showstopper is guayusa, a “super-leaf” emanating from Ecuador and the upper Amazon. Similar to tea, guayusa is in fact unrelated to either green or black tea, but it has about as much caffeine as coffee. It’s rich in polyphenols, the most common compounds that comprise antioxidants. And it’s got tons of cholorgenic acids, purported to promote weight loss and heart health.


Because guayusa lacks the tannins associated with green and black teas, it tastes smooth and naturally sweet, free from any astringent aftertaste. You could think of it as “clean energy” that doesn’t leave you feeling burned out later.

I first discovered guayusa through Runa, a company founded in 2009 by a duo of fresh graduates who had spent time living with the Kichwa people in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Having been introduced to the energizing super-leaf and its vital position in the Kichwan culture, the two young men created a business that could share guayusa with the world, while simultaneously respecting cultural traditions, supporting local farmers, and maintaining the integrity of the Amazon rainforest.

Guayusa is a shade-grown plant that develops and flourishes in the shade of other trees
 (Photo credit:

Runa buys guayusa leaves from over 2,300 farming families. Those leaves are processed in a plant in Ecuador and then shipped to the US where they are shared with a growing number of people.

Thanks to Wesley’s Wholesale here in Lebanon, we Lebanese can now enjoy and appreciate the wealth of goodness guayusa affords. The product range is varied:

Clean energy drinks, lightly carbonated with a tinge of sweetness (4,500 LL);
Bottles, which blend brewed organic guayusa with herbs, fruit flavors, and natural sweeteners (organic cane sugar or maple syrup) (3,750 LL); 
Pyramid infusers, in traditional, sage lavender, and hibiscus berry infusions; 
Loose leaf tins, in traditional, mint, hibiscus berry, ginger-citrus, sage lavender, and cinnamon lemongrass flavors (12,000 LL); 
Boxes of teabags, in traditional, mint, ginger-citrus and cinnamon-lemongrass flavors (7,500 LL).

Mint guayusa steeped in hot water -- my new morning ritual!

I’ve been sipping mint guayusa every morning at the office for a few weeks now. One tea bag goes a long way, as I steep it in 8 oz. of hot water for 5 minutes and reuse it on another cup once I’ve finished the first. 

The complex flavor of guayusa is herbaceous and has a relaxing effect, even if you feel alert because of its high caffeine content. And it’s not so much that the drink is sweet but that it’s devoid of bitterness, which your brain perceives as saccharine.

In the thick of this sweltering heat, I’ve also been quenching my thirst with Runa’s clean energy drinks. Lightly carbonated with an extra punch of sweetness from organic cane sugar, this stuff makes for a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up, leaving me feeling focused, fired up, and fully alive (which in the Kichwa language translates to "runa"!).

Clean energy lightly carbonated guayusa beverage (12 oz.)
Note the ingredients and caffeine content per can!

You can find a selection of Runa guayusa products from Wesley’s Wholesale at either the Jnah or Jal el Dib outlets (and soon in Hazmieh!). Try them, and let me know what you think!


Beirutista has joined forces with Wesley’s Wholesale as Brand Ambassador. What exactly does that mean? Well, if you liked this Product Leak, you can look forward to more every month or so. In addition, I’ll be blogging about a variety of exciting new projects Wesley’s has underway, most imminently the Hazmieh branch opening at the end of this month! Expect cool new product giveaways from time to time, and if you’re a real Wesley’s obsessive like I am, I’ll gladly hook you up with 10% off your next visit. Just shoot me a message at any of my contact coordinates listed here


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