Looking Beyond Artificial Drinks for a Boost of Natural Energy
One of life’s constant struggles is having enough stamina to balance work, social engagements, and projects at home. In modern times, a host of commercial drinks filled with difficult-to-pronounce ingredients and artificially isolated compounds have become popular for bursts of energy.
There have always been natural alternatives, though, that maintain the crucial context of whole foods and the interplay of their many beneficial compounds. We count ourselves among producers who appreciate the value of recognizable ingredients transparently connected to the places they originate and the people who cultivate them. If you also appreciate a more holistic source of jitter-free energy, read on.
The most recognizable and widely consumed source of energy, caffeine occurs in many plants that have been used throughout human history in all sorts of drinks and foods. Commercial energy drinks are loaded with caffeine stripped from its source, which discards other beneficial compounds that naturally balance and enhance caffeine’s effects.
Instead of “caffeine” the additive, try yerba mate, a caffeine-rich plant native to South America as well as the drink made from that plant. The leaves are traditionally dried over a fire and then steeped in hot water to make an earthy, uplifting beverage similar to tea. Evidence suggests drinking yerba mate can boost your immune system as well as your energy.
Or seek out yaupon holly, a plant species within the holly family. It’s also native to the Americas, commonly found from southern Virginia down through the Gulf Coast, and is similarly used to make an all-natural, caffeine-rich tisane from dried leaves steeped in hot water. Indigenous peoples of North America have brewed yaupon holly for many generations, and yaupon holly has started to gain more commercial popularity thanks to several producers.
Tea is the world’s most-consumed source of caffeine, and Ceylon tea is a prized variety native to Sri Lanka, which colonizers renamed “Ceylon” (or some variation of that word in other European languages) from approximately 1505 to 1960. Sri Lanka’s unique terroir lends Ceylon tea a distinctly robust, floral, and malty character, and, like all tea, its caffeine harmonizes with natural L-theanine to provide sustained energy rather than a spike then a crash. We developed our Sri Lankan Milk Tea with whole-leaf Ceylon tea for a beverage that’s every bit as delicious as the milk teas we grew up with, and even more convenient — since the milk and sweetener are included, you can simply brew it with boiling water and enjoy hot or over ice. We also came up with a vegan, lactose-free Sri Lankan Mylk Tea with oat milk so everyone could enjoy this creamy treat.
Like caffeine, adaptogens occur naturally in various herbs, roots, and mushrooms, helping the body adapt during stressful periods. They’ve received an increasing amount of attention in the West because they increase the efficiency of the energy we already have. Like caffeine, adaptogens are sometimes isolated and added to mass-produced drinks, but we prefer the holistic approach.
Reishi mushrooms have a long history of being powdered and brewed into an adaptogen-rich drink, offering polysaccharides and triterpenoids known to help the immune system function optimally. There is also strong evidence to suggest reishi mushrooms contain adaptogenic compounds that prime the body to fight fatigue and depression and even prevent cancer.
Another powerful adaptogenic herb increasingly popular in the West is ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub native to Africa and Asia. Our Turmeric Latte contains this stress-supporting adaptogen to help you remain more productive for longer, and leaving you much less drained afterward. Additionally, there’s evidence suggesting the adaptogenic compounds in ashwagandha help lower blood sugar while supporting heart health.
For sustained energy and concentration, it’s hard to beat a drink filled with crucial nutrients. Peanut butter smoothies, for example, contain an impressive amount of protein and magnesium, which have a demonstrable history of enhancing muscle growth and bone strength, respectively.
Mesquite beans are the pods of trees native to arid areas of the southwestern United States and Central America. Because mesquite beans are so nutritious, indigenous people have long ground them into flour and brewed them into a coffee-like drink. The trees grow especially well in southern Texas, and today a growing number of suppliers are helping people add fiber to their diet via mesquite bean coffee, flour, and other forms. Mesquite beans also contain fructose, a naturally occurring sugar in fruits, which acts as a mild stimulant.
Native to South Asia, the Moringa oleifera plant is prized as an antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense herb boasting high levels of calcium, iron, and beta carotene alongside a whole host of vitamins and minerals. That’s why Kola Goodies founder Sajani Amarisiri included a powerful dose of this superfood in her Super Green Latte. Based on her Amma’s original recipe for Kola Kanda, Sajani’s Super Green Latte is a convenient version of the traditional dish packed with not only moringa, but also beneficial ingredients like cinnamon, ginger, and gotu kola. Among other benefits, this modern take on a classic can naturally and sustainably uplift your mood while also helping relieve anxiety and improve cognitive function — and all you have to do is add water.