Tea has always been popular in Asia, Europe, and North America. What about tea culture in other parts of the world? In my recent travel to Cusco and Lima, Peru, I learned that they too drink quite a bit of tea. I saw much more tea being sold than coffee. A lot of the teas have been enjoyed as a beverage since Incan times but more tea is being sold because healthy products are experiencing rapid growth in Peru as well.
Here are some of the popular teas I had the opportunity to try in Peru, coca leaves and muna being the most popular in many restaurants and hotels.
This is an Andean Mint. Its aroma is pretty strong. I would say more strong in aroma and taste than peppermint and spearmint. It is very minty with a subtle sweetness and more herbal taste than peppermint or spearmint.
This is Chamomile in Peru. They taste sweet and are not as potent in taste and aroma as the Chamomile from Egypt. The flavors are well balanced and smooth.
A medicinal herb found in the Andes. It smells amazing and with hints of lemon, it is calming as a tea.
It has a smooth taste and the aroma of chocolate without the calories. Great to satisfy that chocolate craving without the guilt that normally goes with it.
Coca leaves are very popular and can be found everywhere. It is used to help with altitude sickness in Cusco. The taste is unique. It has hints of dried grass and fresh hay and reminiscent of yerba mate, but something else entirely.
Although these teas are popular in Peru, it was also interesting to find a lot of cafes serving camellia sinensis teas as well. It was a wonderful experience to learn and see what teas are being enjoyed around the globe, especially those we may never have been exposed to before!
I had no idea that tea was popular in Peru. I’m wondering how long before someone decides to import some of these interesting teas to the U.S. market. I’d love to try the Cedroncillo. I find it encouraging that camellia sinensis is gaining in popularity as well. The world is moving in the right direction.
Hopefully sooner than later. =) I was very happy as well to find that I can enjoy camellia sinensis away from home. What’s even more encouraging was that they had quite a selection of organic options.
Tamara Sherman wrote a comment on Facebook
“I spent 3 weeks in Peru back in 2010, I want to go back so bad. I miss coca tea so very much. I tried the manzanilla tea several times. I wish I had gotten to taste the others as well. Thanks for the memories this morning!”
Glad to bring back wonderful memories! I do miss coca tea too! It’s hard to try many things when you’re traveling. I often buy what I can to bring home so I can take the time to try it.
I found a wonderful coca tea. It’s called Tisano Chocolate Tea. It is organic, direct trade with a “socially responsible, profit sharing organization. It’s actually cocao shells and it’s delicious. When I want to have some chocolate but don’t want the calories, this is my option.
Hi Michelle! It’s so easy to be confused since the spelling is so similar. I even have to pay attention sometimes myself! Coca tea is tea of the coca leaves. Different from cocoa (or cacao) tea. Coca leaves are the leaves used as a base to make cocaine and therefore not allowed in the US! =O Coca Cola use these leaf extract for their sodas back then. I hope we were all talking about the same tea! =P
Thanks so much Thao for catching my mistake. What does the experience of drinking Coca tea feel like? Do you think there is a possibility of becoming addicted to this brew? I suspect because it is a popular tea in that culture, that it doesn’t pose any health risks.
It really feels like drinking any tea and doesn’t have an unsual affect. The amount of alkaloid in coca leaves are so small you don’t get a high or addicted from drinking it. Interestingly though, I read that coca leaves can be decocainized just as coffee or tea can be decaffeinated. Maybe then will coca tea be legal in the US?
I think Hell will freeze over before they’ll let in into the U.S. Despite all the amazing health benefits of Marijuana for example, the FDA is still classifying it as a class 1 drug -like heroine.
Nice article but remember that teas only come from camellia sinensis. The rest are tisanes or herbals. I’m wondering about yerba mate…didn’t see you mention it but it’s the ‘national beverage’ of Argentina. Do they drink it in Peru, or much of it?
Correct. They do drink yerba mate but the ones I listed are much more common and popular. They were at all the hotels I stayed at and many local shops.
So I was speaking of Cacao husks not Coca leaves. The chocolate tasting drink.
Cacao husks are delicious without the guilt!