What happens in a Guayusa Tea Ceremony?

At dawn, deep in the Amazon rainforest, the Kichwa people gather to discuss their dreams in a guayusa tea ceremony. We examine what it is about guayusa that makes it such a sacred dream-enhancing plant...

By: The College of Psychic Studies.   Posted

If you are fortunate enough to have visited the rainforest in Ecuador, you will undoubtedly have encountered the vibrant, leafy guayusa (pronounced gwhy-you-sa) on your forays into the jungle. Perhaps you were welcomed into this sacred land by the local Kichwa people, who may have invited you to their guayusa tea ceremony at dawn. 

In this ancient pre-sunrise ritual, guayusa leaves are brewed over an open fire to make a potent tea. This tea is sipped in community as everyone is invited to share their dreams and night visions to be discussed and interpreted. Finally, refreshed and awakened by the effects of the guayusa tea, everyone gets on with their day. Which leads one to wonder... why guayusa? What is so special about this Amazonian cousin of the holly tree? Does it really enhance our ability to process our dreams? Let's look a little closer.

Images of Guayusa, harvested and dried before drinking

What does Guayusa tea taste like?

Those who have sipped South America's hot beverage of choice, yerba mate, will be very familiar with the green 'grassy' flavour and stimulating effects of guayusa tea. The guayusa leaves are steeped to create a steaming brew that contains a unique blend of phytochemicals, including antioxidants, amino acids, caffeine, theobromine (also in chocolate), and other compounds that contribute to its stimulating effects. 

Caffeine is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of those with a sensitive physical constitution. However, despite being higher in caffeine than traditional English tea plants (Camellia sinensis), guayusa tea provides a sustained release of energy without the jittery effects that can arise from strong coffee. As a nourishing, refreshing stimulant, guayusa tea has become the latest buzz word in the wellness industry.

However, to value guayusa tea purely for its stimulating, uplifting effects is to overlook its profound cultural significance in indigenous communities. The dawn guayusa tea ceremony is an important part of the day in Kichwa culture. It's a time to process, connect with community and begin the day in the spirit of wisdom and connection.

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What happens in a guayusa tea ceremony?

As the standard household in the West wakes up with a cup of tea or coffee, perhaps accompanied by a discussion of the day ahead, those in the Kichwa communities are sharing their dreams in a daily guayusa tea ceremony. The specifics of a guayusa ceremony can vary, of course, but there are some common elements:

Preparation of guayusa tea: The guayusa tea ceremony begins with the preparation of guayusa tea in the early hours of the morning, before sunrise. The leaves have been harvested by hand and dried before being brewed into a strong infusion. This process is both sacred and intentional.

An invitation to spirit: Guayusa tea ceremonies are conducted outdoors in the rainforest to enhance the connection with nature. The tea helps open up channels of communication with the spiritual realm, including interactions with ancestors, spirits, and the natural environment.

Storytelling and wisdom sharing: The guayusa tea ceremony is an opportunity to share the night's events, both good dreams and bad. This is a time for storytelling and sharing. The ceremony provides an opportunity for the passing down of knowledge and spiritual teachings. 

Reflection and meditation: The guayusa tea ceremony often include periods of quiet reflection and meditation. Participants may use this time to focus on their thoughts, dreams, and inner experiences. The stimulant properties of guayusa can contribute to heightened awareness and a sense of clarity during these moments of reflection.

The community spirit: Guayusa ceremonies are communal events, bringing the community together to share and process experiences, stories, and wisdom. Starting the day with the guayusa tea ceremony strengthens connections among those present. It is a time to bring everyone together, to establish a common ground and connection.

The link between guayusa and dreams

The Kichwa people believe that guayusa has a deep connection to our dreams, and is used for this purpose in shamanic ceremonies. As a spiritual aide, guayusa is thought to give clarity to our dreams and night visions. Through guayusa, we are able to connect more deeply with the spiritual realms, and receive guidance through our dreams.

In indigenous Amazonian cultures, all plants are regarded as having a deep spiritual significance. They have the ability to bridge the worlds of the physical and spiritual. Guayusa is one such plant - it is a conduit for spiritual experience and a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Want to try guayusa tea in ceremony for yourself? Join us for a guayusa tea ceremony at The College of Psychic Studies.

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