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