Category: Co-op News Producer Spotlight
By Jessica Miller, Director of Marketing and Outreach
April 14th, 2012
Miguel Rosas-Baker grew up in Portland. Natural health and wellness have always been central to his life; his father emigrated from Venezuela and is a Naturopathic Doctor. His stepmother, an acupuncturist. His dad likes to tell the story of Miguel read more
Miguel Rosas-Baker grew up in Portland. Natural health and wellness have always been central to his life; his father emigrated from Venezuela and is a Naturopathic Doctor. His stepmother, an acupuncturist. His dad likes to tell the story of Miguel crawling the halls of NCNM as a baby while his father cleaned the school at night.
Nicole Bartholomew is also a native Oregonian with roots in the rural Illinois Valley of southern Oregon. She is a trained pastry chef who loves to cook and bake (with hand-ground baking flour!). Nicole and Miguel met while attending college in Eugene and have been together since, nearly 10 years. Five years ago the happy couple became a trio and currently live in Portland with 5 year old daughter Eva. Together they share their love for cooking running, practicing yoga, hiking and living a healthy life.
J: How did you come up with the name and how do you pronounce it?
Nicole: Our company name, Ujjyana (pronounced oo-jah-nuh), comes from the Quechua word for drink. The Quichwa are one group of indigenous people who have traditionally enjoyed Guayusa and value its stimulating qualities, health benefits, and fostering of community.
J: Describe the product—what is it?
N: We use simple, pure organic ingredients to create bottled Guayusa tea drinks brewed in small batches. We lightly sweeten our teas with low-glycemic agave nectar and create unique flavors by infusing our tea with fresh juice from local juicer Columbia Gorge out of Hood River, OR. We offer three flavors – Traditional, Cherry-Ginger and Peppermint: all of which are refreshingly smooth, delicate, and balanced in flavor. We brew our tea from the leaves of the Guayusa (g/why-you-suh) tree. Guayusa trees are descendant of the Holly genus and native to the upper Amazon Rainforest, though primarily cultivated in Ecuador. Indigenous people claim it encourages lucid dreaming, foretelling of successful hunts, and aids in dream remembrance. Guayusa tea is known to be shared communally near a fire after waking, while families pass along ancestral myths and tribal traditions, and it is revered by natural healers of the tree’s native region for its use as an herbal remedy for many ailments. Guayusa is a close relative of the more commonly known Yerba Mate, though it packs a bit more punch.
A Guayusa leaf contains 90 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup, making it the highest caffeine containing leaf known, nearly as much as coffee. It boasts double the antioxidants of green tea, and is abundant in amino acids and trace nutrients. Guayusa also contains two other stimulants in the caffeine family that marry well with the intensity of the caffeine to provide an optimal balance of energy: Theophylline, also found in green tea, is said to be uplifting and enhance mental clarity. On the other side of the balancing act is Theobromine, which is found in dark chocolate and has been recognized for promoting a relaxed and pleasant feeling. Guayusa tea also contains the essential amino acid L-theanine which is known to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognitive function and mood synergistically with caffeine. The energy created by Guayusa releases in a consistent and steady manner, lending a “jitter”-free, long lasting and focused effect. J:How did the idea for this get started?
N: Miguel began working at Food Front’s Northwest location where he discovered Guayusa tea made for hot brewing and brought it home to share with me. We immediately fell in love with its smooth, lightly sweet, earthy taste, and the health benefits associated with the tea. We felt inspired to learn more about Guayusa and after some research we found ourselves feeling connected with the traditional philosophy associated with the ancient tea;–great reverence for life, family, community, and health. These are values that Miguel and I are passionate about and strive to incorporate into our daily family life with our daughter, our careers, nature, friends and neighbors.
Our little kitchen was where the idea for Ujjyana started; we experimented with different brews and added juices from our local juicer to add flavor. We shared our teas with family and friends who approved (and begged for more) whole-heartedly. Eventually, with the help of energetic Guayusa- we decided to share our drinks with the world!
J: When did you actually begin the business/final plans for production?
We began researching in October of 2011. we’ve both worked in the natural foods industry for years, which has given us a lot of insight into the type of products we want to create and what kind of business we want to be. We also asked a lot of questions of those around us. After a lot of thoughtful work (fueled by our tea!) and research everything seemed to fall into place. . It wasn’t easy by any means, and we had hang-ups, but we were diligent and eager to achieve our goal. We’ve had many business ideas in the past, though they’ve never come to fruition. We are thankful that Ujjyana persevered and feel inspired each day to create new recipes and dream towards the future. J: Who is involved?
N: Miguel perfected the recipes and must have made close to thirty batches, with the slightest variations. We had help with our labels from two coworker friends. Our friends Adam and August collaborated to create the labels. When we first saw the prototype for our logo we were amazed, it was just what we imagined and reminds us of a dream catcher, the leaves like the feathers…and Guayusa is said to help you remember your dreams.
Where are the tea leaves from? We brew our tea from organic Guayusa leaves cultivated sustainably by indigenous Kichwa family farmers who are fairly compensated for their product. This process is being fair-trade certified to guarantee livable wages and better opportunities for the farmers, their families, and their local economy. The family farmers sustainably grow the Guayusa using a traditional diverse chagra or chakra gardening technique. In this technique, food crops, Guayusa, and Rainforest grow together in a rich habitat. This style of cultivation is beneficial because it delivers more nutrients and flavor to the leaves of the plant and also creates economic incentives for the farmers to protect Rainforest or promotes reforestation.
J: What is the process of creation, from leaf to bottle?
N: We brew in small batches. to keep the flavor of the tea just right. We work with a small family owned co-packer in McMinnville, Oregon.
What sets your tea apart from other teas? Why is it different? The details. Made with love from simple wholesome ingredients. Leaf brewed, and just fresh lemon juice to balance flavor. Lightly sweetened for a sophisticated taste. Locally made! New invigorating leaf from the Amazon!
J: Where is your tea being sold currently?
N: Food Front NW & Hillsdale! We are delighted to say that Food Front is the first store to carry our product. We hope to be in many more local retailers throughout the city.
For more information visit their website: http://www.ujjyana.com