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Latin American tea infusions

5 teas and infusions popular in Latin America to improve sleep, focus, digestion, and more! 

Are you a tea lover? Or are you looking to try something new? Warm or cold, herbal teas and other infusions are often the perfect beverage to comfort and refresh—and they come with health benefits bonuses!

But what is the difference between the two? “Infusion” is a generic name for any ingredients –leaves, fruits, or herbs– that, left in hot or cold water, transmit their scents, aromas, and flavors to the liquid.

“Herbal tea” however, refers to a drink prepared using the leaves, roots, or stems of medicinal plants containing numerous benefits for our body.

Detoxification, diuretic effects, relaxing, or better digestion, both infusions and teas contain many properties that can help you start the year on the right foot!

Used for both healing purposes and social gatherings, teas and infusions are a cornerstone of Latin American and Hispanic culture. Today we’ve gathered a few of our favorite teas and infusions popular in Latin America to share with you. 

There’s something here for everyone from the busy entrepreneur who needs her caffeine boost to the college student who can’t sleep, or the mom with digestive issues—these teas have you covered! 

All you coffee addicts out there may be shaking your heads, but maybe it’s time to give tea a chance and reap the health benefits with these 5 teas and infusions popular in Latin America.

You might be interested: 15 Best Latin American soup recipes to try this winter!

5 teas and infusions popular in Latin America for health and energy  

Latin American tea infusion

Agua de Jamaica. (Image via muybuenocookbook.com)

Agua de Jamaica (Mexico) 

Agua de Jamaica is a traditional Mexican tea made from Hibiscus flowers. This tea can be prepared either hot or cold, but is more often a cold drink, with a fruity, sweet, sour, and astringent flavor profile. Unsweetened, it has a tart taste similar to cranberries but is often sweetened with honey or sugar to balance the tartness. 

This flavorful tea is not only refreshing, but it also boasts many health benefits. Packed with antioxidants, this tea is also believed to help lower blood pressure and blood fat levels, boost liver health, promote weight loss, help fight bacteria, and contains compounds that may even prevent cancer. 

Ready to try it?

  • Rinse and drain the dried hibiscus flowers in a large colander.
  • Bring water to a boil in a pot. Add the flowers and cover them tightly with a lid. Remove from the heat and steep for 1 hour or until cool.
  • Strain hibiscus water into a pitcher and discard flowers. Add sugar and stir. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Get more recipes from Ivette Marquez here

Té de Poleo (Image source)

Poleo (Mexico) 

Té de Poleo is another Mexican tea often used to treat colds and headaches. This tea is made from Hedeoma drummondii aka American Pennyroyal. Its flavor is intensely sweet and minty, produced when its herbage is crushed. 

Poleo has been used to treat a variety of ailments ranging from fever, colds, headaches, poor appetite, constipation, menstruation, and hangovers. 

Ready to try it?

  • Simply steep a tea bag, tea infuser, or tea ball in 8oz. of boiling water for 10 – 12 minutes.
  • You may wish to add honey or other sweeteners. 

Guayusa tea. (Image source)

Guayusa (Ecuador)

Guayusa is a tea widely popular in Ecuador but native to the Amazon rainforest, made from the leaves of the holly tree known by the botanical name Ilex guayusa. Its flavor is grassy and rich with a gentle sweetness and also slight fruity flavors and a creamy texture. 

For those looking for a caffeine alternative to coffee, guayusa is definitely one to consider. Guayusa tea is a caffeinated herbal beverage known for its ability to increase energy. Like the famous yerba mate, guayusa is also popular at social gatherings. 

Additional health benefits include amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. Guayusa has been shown to boost cardiovascular health and immune system, improve mood and induce relaxation, prevent premature aging and protect the nervous system from degenerative diseases with antioxidants, aid in digestion and promote weight loss. 

Ready to try it?

  • Pour fresh, cold water into a large pot or a tea kettle. Use only pure, spring or unfiltered water for the best flavor.
  • Bring the water to a roiling boil and remove it from heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon or 2 grams of dried guayusa tea leaves to a tea gourd. Pour the hot water on the leaves and steep for 4 to 7 minutes. Brew up to 10 minutes for a stronger brew.

Learn more about guayusa and how to prepare it here

Yerba Mate. (Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash)

Mate (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay) 

Mate is a traditional herbal brew native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It is made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. It’s flavor is strong, bitter, and vegetal, and it is often sweetened to balance the strong flavor. 

Like guayusa, mate is also a caffeinated tea with 85 mg of caffeine per cup. Mate is prepared by packing the herbs into a traditional cup, adding hot water, and sipping the tea through a metallic straw. In social gatherings, mate is traditionally shared with friends passing the drink from person to person and refilling the cup with hot water, a popular behavior that has changed since the pandemic started!

For those looking to improve focus, mate is the beverage for you. Additionally, mate has been shown to enhance physical performance, protect against infection, boost the immune system, and lower blood sugar levels and risk of heart disease. The infusion also provides small amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. 

Ready to try it?

  • Pour some yerba mate into your mate cup (until it is ¾ full)
  • Pour warm water onto part of the yerba mate.
  • The yerba is now getting wet and the infusion is starting to take place. Wait 30 seconds.
  • Put mate straw into the wet yerba mate tea.
  • Pour in hot water softly. Add sugar to taste to the mate if you want to sweeten it and “suck” through the yerba mate straw.

Get additional information and the recipe here

Latin American tea

Cascara tea. (Image source)

Cáscara (Nicaragua

Cáscara is an infusion from Nicaragua made from the dried husk of the coffee cherry. It has honey and floral notes in its flavor and contains around 25 mg of caffeine per cup. 

For those who are in need of some stress reduction, better sleep patterns, and better brain functioning, this is the tea for you. Cáscara also helps aid in digestion and reduce digestive issues such as constipation and preventing gallstones. Additionally, cáscara may also improve your skin and hair with its nutritional properties such as vitamin B, potassium, manganese, and calcium. 

Ready to try it?

  • Put the cascara in either an empty tea bag or any other tea infuser.
  • Steep it in boiling water (100℃ or 212℉) for around five minutes.
  • You can get creative with it adding sweetened condensed milk.

Get other recipes here

***Disclaimer: Beware that overconsumption of these teas may cause adverse side effects. Please follow package instructions or consult your doctor before use of these teas and infusions if you have prior health concerns.***

15 Best Latin American soup recipes to try this winter!

Who doesn’t love a nice hot bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day? As the temperatures continue to drop in the Northern Hemisphere, we at Latinas in Business are looking to cozy up with our favorite Latin American soup recipes.  

All around the world, soup is enjoyed by every culture. Soups come in all different styles, from chunky, clear, to creamy, and can be served hot or cold. Today, we’re focusing on our favorite hot soups from around Latin America. 

With January being National Soup Month, it’s the perfect time to indulge. Celebrate the month by trying out some of these recipes and sharing them with your loved ones. 

5 Latin American soup recipes in three different styles

Latin American soup

Sopa de Sancocho. (Photo source: dominicancooking.com)

Sancocho

Traditionally, Sancocho is a meat-and-roots-based stew. It can be found in various Latin American countries, especially the Caribbean, and comes in different variations depending on the country. Some of the key ingredients include meat, vegetables, broth, yuca, and platano. This hearty soup will make the perfect winter meal!

Recipes for Sancocho

  • Try it the Dominican way with Tía Clara’s recipe at Dominican Cooking, the oldest and largest Dominican cooking website. 
  • Another variation comes from Panamá. This version is similar to chicken soup. See the recipe here
  • Finally, another delicious version to try is Venezuela’s variation. This recipe from La Cocina Latina uses beef for a flavorful and filling meal that will satisfy the whole family. 
Latin American soup

Sopa de Mondongo. (Photo source: mycolombianrecipes.com)

Sopa de Mondongo

Sopa de Mondongo is popular throughout Latina America and the Caribbean. The soup consists of tripe as the main meat and a variety of vegetables. In the Colombian tradition, the soup also includes other meats such as pork and chorizo. In Colombia, Mondongo is served as a complete meal, accompanied by white rice, avocado, banana and drizzled with lime juice.

Recipes for Mondongo 

Latin American soups

Caldo de Res. (Photo source: maricruzavalos.com)

Caldo de Res

Caldo de Res, also known as Cocido, is a hearty soup made with beef meat and bones. The versatile soup includes many variations throughout Latin America in countries such as Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. 

This recipe is the perfect comfort soup, especially if you’re not feeling well. Made with beef bones and vegetables, this recipe has many health benefits such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Marrow bones also provide Omega-3, vitamin A, vitamin K2, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc among others.

So, if you’re looking for a soup to revitalize your strength, this is definitely one to try! 

Recipes for Caldo de Res

You might be interested: 5 hearty autumnal vegan meals to try this month

Sopa de Pescado. (Photo source: quericavida.com)

Sopa de Pescado 

Sopa de Pescado is a fish soup that can be made in various styles depending on the country. In Perú, the dish is called Chilcano de pescado and is made with fish fillet, herbs, vegetables, and a rich broth. In Cuba, the heads of fish are used and pieces of bread or rice are added to the soup and in Costa Rica noodles and potatoes are added. 

Recipes for Sopa de Pescado

Ecuadorian style Locro. (Photo source: laylita.com)

Locro

Locro is a thick and creamy soup popular in countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, and Paraguay. The Argentinian version is made with calabaza—or acorn or butternut squash, corn, beans and meat. In Ecuador, the soup is made with potatoes and cheese, creating a creamy and thick potato soup. The Paraguay version is similar to the Argentinian style, though it does not contain any squash. 

Recipes for Locro

Dia de los Reyes

How Dia de los Reyes traditions vary between countries…and best Rosca recipe!

Dia de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day, is a Latino and Hispanic holiday that takes place on January 6th, also known as the Epiphany. 

The history behind the day honors the Three Wise Men and the biblical story of how they traveled for twelve days to give gifts to baby Jesus. The three Kings, named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar followed a star across the desert to deliver symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

For many, the holiday is known as a “second Christmas” and traditionally it is the day when Hispanic households exchange gifts, concluding the Christmas holiday festivities. 

Originally, Christmas was celebrated for more than just one day, with the holiday spanning twelve days following December 25th and concluding on January 6th. You may be familiar with the holiday song The Twelve Days of Christmas. This song describes those twelve days, when many would traditionally give gifts throughout the long holiday, concluding with the Epiphany where the most gifts were given. 

For Latino and Hispanic households, the Epiphany is celebrated with just as much spirit as others celebrate Christmas on December 25th. While the tradition originated in Spain, many Latin American countries have adapted those traditions with their own twists and cultural inspiration. 

Dia de los Reyes traditions by country 

Depending on where you’re from, Dia de los Reyes traditions may vary, but one aspect that remains the same is gift-giving. Similar to Christmas traditions, children anticipate the arrival of the Three Kings like others anticipate Santa Claus and in the morning children wake to find gifts. 

In countries such as Puerto Rico, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the celebration starts on January 5th with Víspera de Reyes, or Three Kings Eve, where children collect grass or hay in a box, as a gift for the camels. Instead of leaving out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for reindeer, Hispanic and Latino children leave out their old shoes along with their gift to the camels. 

In the morning, children wake to find their shoes filled with candies and other small gifts along with bigger gifts as well. Family members then gather to exchange gifts with each other and celebrate. Countries like Colombia use this family gathering to take down their Christmas tree and other decorations, as the holiday signals the end of the Christmas season. 

For countries such as Peru and Brazil, the day is celebrated with parades honoring the holiday in a mix of cultural traditions and religious ceremonies. 

And Mexico, a big part of Dia de los Reyes is the Rosca de Reyes. This round sweet-bread is decorated to resemble a king’s crown with the candied dried fruit. Part of the tradition includes a small baby Jesus figurine baked into the bread. Whoever finds the toy must then host a party for everyone on Día de la Candelaria or the Day of the Candles on February 2. 

Interested in making a rosca yourself? Check out this recipe by Latina chef, Yvette Marquez, where she adds her own twist on the traditional dish. 

You might be interested: Try these healthy holiday food recipes by Latina chefs 

We want to know: how do you and your family celebrate Dia de los Reyes? Share your story with us in the comments below or on social media!