Coca Tea, also known as Mate de Coca, is made from the raw leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylum Coca). This Tea originates from the Andes mountains, particularly in Peru, and has been used by the Andean people for over 4000 years for medicine and religious purposes. Coca leaves are still considered a sacred aspect of the Andean culture and it was only in this past century with chemical configurations that coca leaves were used to make the drug cocaine. There have been several protests from the local people to show that the traditional use of the coca leaf is not harmful, criminal or addictive.
Coca leaves contain a high number of vitamins, proteins, calcium, iron, potassium and sodium, and 17 alkaloids including cocaine. However the amount of cocaine in these leaves is very small – around 0.4%. The locals say coca leaves have more proteins than meat, more calcium than condensed milk and are higher in Vitamin B1 than fresh carrots!
I actually bought some in Peru and tried yesterday for the first time. It has a green-yellow colour and a light sweet flavour.
When visiting Machu Picchu, it is very common to drink coca Tea to combat altitude sickness and fatigue. Coca Tea is also known for its energizing effects, helping digestion and combating pain, thirst and hunger.
Coca leaves and Kola nut were the two key ingredients on the original Coca-Cola formula which also lead to the name Coca-Cola. After 1904, instead of using fresh leaves the company started using a cocaine-free coca leaf extract.