I started drinking guayusa tea a little while ago when I saw the Runa brand carried at Bread and Roses. Almost all guayusa trees are located in Ecuador. Runa's focal area is the Napo region of the Amazon. I was in the Napo region back in 2005, but I did not drink tea back then. It's funny to think that I could have had this tea years ago if I had been a tea drinker.
The guayusa is grown in the middle of the forest in a biodiverse setting. The trees do not perform well in monoculture. Hopefully, the value created by producing this tea will help incentivize conservation of the rain forest in the areas where the tree grows. I was disheartened to see that parts of the Napo region were being deforested in order to extract some of the oil from the region. The indigenous people do not have much of a say when it comes to the invasion of their area for extraction of those resources. The indigenous people do, however, benefit from the guayusa farming. They know when to pick the leaves for optimal tea and how to best cultivate the trees.
Guayusa has been consumed for a very long time by the people who live in the Napo region (they have a use for just about every plant that grows in the forest). I really like the tea. It has a mild flavor and makes me feel pretty good. It has about 90mg of caffeine per serving, which is about 2-3 sodas' worth...I've replaced soda consumption with tea consumption and that's been very good for me. 90mg is less than a typical cup of coffee but not by too much. I encourage you to try some guayusa tea. Everyone I know who's tried it has liked it. It could be the tea of the future.
Here are some pictures of the area I visited: