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Guayusa leaves: An alternative to coffee

Runa Tea is a Brooklyn-based company.

Runa Tea is a Brooklyn-based company. Credit: Runa Tea is a Brooklyn-based company.

We've all felt sluggish at work, prompting some of us to make a bee line for the Keurig cup machine or the Starbucks down the block.

After the fix, you feel good for an hour or so, but then you're back in the bottom of the proverbial empty cup. Coffee is God's gift to man, some say, but the double-edged sword is the subsequent, and likely guaranteed, crashing come-down.

Some people prefer tea to coffee for this reason. Others guzzle energy drinks. There's a new option: Guayusa.

Guayusa is the leaf of a tree found in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Known for thousands of years to be a stimulant by the people of that country, it has in recent years appeared in the United States, in the brand Runa Tea, specifically.

While students at Brown University, childhood best friends Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie took an entrepreneurial business course. When studying ethno-botany and linguistics in Ecuador, Gage was introduced to guayusa tea, and their idea was born. Today, Runa Tea is a Brooklyn-based beverage company that makes beverages and tea bags. The company sources the guayusa from Ecuador where it has set up a distribution network and employed 45 people.

Co-CEO and co-founder MacCombie said guayusa does not have the same negative side-effects associated with caffeine.

"No jitters, no crash," he said.

-- Guayusa has double the antioxidants of green tea
-- It contains theobromine, a stimulant also found in chocolate that is known to help with circulatory problems and high blood pressure
-- It contains L-theanine, an amino-acid also found in green tea that has been found to reduce stress and improve cognition
-- It contains chlorogenic acid, which can help promote weight loss
-- It contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids
Runa Tea is available at Whole Foods Market, Fairway, The Vitamin Shoppe, other national grocery stores and at

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