In this city full of coffee fanatics, other viable caffeinated options are often overlooked. Well, it’s time to wake up and smell the Guayusa! Ujjyana (oo-khee-ahna), a family-owned tea business in Portland, fits right in with Portlanders’ desires to treat their bodies right while remaining true to sustainable practices. Their bottled teas come in four tasty flavors, which all boast impressive health benefits. The owners of Ujjyana source the certified fair-trade Guayusa leaves from Ecuador and donate a portion of their earnings to a different non-profit organization every year (currently, it’s Amazon Watch). A drink that provides increased energy and mental clarity while also protecting the rainforest? It can’t get much better than that.
E+E: What was the inspiration behind the making of Ujjyana?Miguel: Ujjyana was born from our love of great food and drink. We’ve both worked in the natural foods industry here in Oregon for many years where we have access to some of the best food in the country. We also spend a lot of time in our kitchen preparing and eating healthy foods, so creating a product was a natural fit for us.We were inspired by Guayusa tea, it’s smooth taste, health benefits, and energizing qualities. It has amazing health benefits and has been used in ancient medicine in South America for decades. We wanted the people of Portland to have access to it because we loved it so much.E+E: What makes Guayusa different from the other teas?Miguel: Guayusa brewed as tea is different from other teas because of its unique balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids. It offers twice the antioxidants of green tea and contains about the same amount of caffeine as coffee. Also, unlike its cousin, Yerba Mate, it doesn’t have a grassy taste. Guayusa’s flavor is smooth, earthy, and slightly sweet.E+E: Considering all the benefits, why do you think Guayusa hasn't gained huge popularity yet?Nicole: Guayusa has only made it’s debut in America within the past couple years. Though, it is gaining momentum and I’m pretty sure it will experience great popularity in the near future. I think Guayusa has mostly been limited by the small geographic location in which it grows. 90% of the Guayusa grown in the world today comes from the rain forest in Ecuador.E+E: How were the flavors chosen?Miguel: We create flavors inspired by what’s in season and also by what tastes good. Of course, lots of experimentation!E+E: Is there a favorite flavor out of the four?Nicole: Cherry Ginger. I think Guayusa’s earthy flavor is complimented well with ginger and the sweetness of the cherry. It also smells amazing when it’s brewing, the aroma fills up the entire building.Miguel: I’m partial to our traditional flavor because you can taste the flavor of the tea more. I do love the tang of passion hibiscus as well, it’s hard to choose!E+E: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your tea making business since the start of it in 2011?Nicole: It’s been thrilling to have an idea for a product, doing the research and hard work of bringing the product to market, and then having people love it! It hasn’t been an easy process, anything that could go wrong has, but some how everything has worked out. The universe has been kind to us.Miguel: We are also pleased that we’ve been able to create something that contributes positively to a greater cause. By purchasing fair-trade Guayusa grown & harvested by indigenous farmers, we are helping to support the success of small-scale farmers who may otherwise be marginalized by globalization or by their own governments. Guayusa’s success can help protect fragile, threatened lands and contributes to sustainable livelihoods for farmers.E+E: What are some future plans for Ujjyana?Nicole: We’re planning to add new flavors to our line and we’re working on expanding to more retail locations. We’re preparing for online sales in the near future, too.
Thirsty? GIVEAWAY opportunity!
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UjjyanaPeople’s Food Co-op3029 SE 21st AvePortland, OR 97202503.222.5658
Photo courtesy: David Reamer Photography