Coca tea or mate de coca is a herbal brew made by using the flavorful raw leaves of coca plant which are usually submerged and brewed in hot water to extract the flavor. Tea leaves are also available in tea bags that are specifically used to make this herbal concoction.
This tea includes various chemical compounds including cocaine as one of them. Though the cocaine amount is quite less in the leaves, but the tea acts as a stimulant. Coca leaves has the same stimulating effect like coffee. Another similarity between the coffee and coca tea is the ability to be ‘decaffeinated’. Coca leaves can be ‘decocaineized’ to reduce the amount of stimulant alkaloids, but even after this process, the tea leaves contain very little amount of cocaine that is allowed in an edible item as per US laws.
According to an international treaty, Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961, the tea leaves containing very little amount of drug can be sold legally in USA.
History of Mate De Coca
The origin of this stimulating coca tea is said to be in the mountain range of Andes. Bolivia, Peru and particularly Ecuador are believed to be the place of origin of coca leaves and tea.
A plant belongs to the family of Erythroxylacea, is also said to be the variety of coca plant that is native to the northwest region of South America. Tea made of coca plant is also known as ‘mate’ or ‘mate de coca’ but it should not be confused with the ‘Yerba’ drink of Argentina and Uruguay.
The traces of leaves of coca have also been noticed in the Egyptian mummies over 3000 years ago.
Preparation and Serving Suggestions For Maximizing Coca Tea Benefits
This flavorful tea is essentially prepared with raw leaves of the plant of coca known as "la Hoja de Coca". It is a digestive tea, hence can be consumed as a medicine.
Preparation of mate is very easy, as coca leaves are only infused in the warm water. The water should not be boiled as it may result in a strong flavored tea. The dried leaves of coca are put in the water and left for brewing for 10-15 minutes. Leaves impart an amber tint with flavor.
While serving it is better to fill the mug half with the coca concoction so that it can be diluted with more warm water in case of strong flavor. Little sugar or honey may be added to sweeten the tea. Lemon juice is also a nice.
Common Coca Tea Benefits
Latin Americans consider coca leaves as highly beneficial for health and its healing properties are recognized all over the world. Some benefits are as follows:
- It is a diuretic substance and helps in improving digestion.
- This tea is highly beneficial for gastritis acts as an effective antiseptic medicine.
- Diarrhea can also be cured with the regular consumption of this herbal brew.
- Respiratory functions can be improved by consuming this tea.
- It is quite helpful in treating altitude syndrome or vomiting due to mountain sickness.
- Alcohol-poisoning, vocal fatigue and carbohydrate metabolism can be easily regulated with the use of tea made from coca leaves.
With large number of health benefits, this tea is highly recommended for daily consumption.
The coca tea was given to the drug addicts in 1980 to wean them off from the cocaine.