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Coca tea

  Coca tea, also called mate de coca, is a tisane (herbal tea) made using the leaves of the coca plant. It is made either by submerging the coca leaf or dipping a tea bag in hot water. The tea originates from the Andes mountain range, particularly Peru.

The leaves of the coca plant contain several alkaloids including cocaine;[1] in fact, they comprise the sources for cocaine's chemical production, though the amount of cocaine in the leaves is so small, around 0.2%,[1][2] that in order to make a gram of cocaine, 500 grams of coca leaves would be needed.[3][4]

Owing to the presence of the stimulant alkaloids, the coca tea provides a source of energy similar to coffee. The tea is often sold commercially in filtering bags, each of which usually contains approximately one gram of the leaf. As coffee can be decaffeinated, the coca tea can also be decocainized. Just like "decaf" coffee does retain a minute quantity of caffiene, "decocanized" coca tea will still contain a minute quantity of the drug. When the cocaine is removed, the amount of cocaine is small enough for the product to legally sell in the USA according to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. In the 1980s the tea was used to wean cocaine addicts off of the drug.[2]

The coca plant comprises four main species and varieties of Erythroxylum coca, often spelled koka in Quechua and Aymara, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to northwestern South America.

Though also known as mate, the mate de coca is not drunk through a straw like with mate of yerba mate, but as a tea.


Classification and Nomenclature

Coca tea comes from the coca plant, which has the biological name Erythroxylum coca and is from the family Erythroxylaceae. It is often called "la Hoja de Coca" (the leaf of coca) or Coca del Peru (coca of Peru).


Coca Tea is a natural product. The tea preserves all of the physical-chemical properties of the coca leaf. The product fulfills the Technical Peruvian Standard and can be sold nationally, although such use is being discouraged in part by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The tea is greenish yellow color, and has a lightly bitter flavor, somewhat similar to that of green tea but with a slightly more naturally sweet taste.

In South American Culture

Medicinal Use

Coca tea consumption is common in many South American countries. Many indigenous tribes of the Andes mountain range also use the tea for medicinal and religious purposes.[5][3]

The consumption of Coca tea, as well as chewing the leaves, increases the absorption of oxygen in blood, which helps combat altitude sickness, and has a marked digestive and carminative action.[1]


On the "Inca Trail" to Machu Picchu, guides usually serve coca tea with every meal because it is widely believed to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness.[6][7][8]

Traditionally, official governmental persons traveling to La Paz in Bolivia, located at almost 4,000 meters above mean sea level, are greeted with a mate de coca. News reports noted that Princess Anne and the late Pope John Paul II were served the beverage during their visits to the country.[citation needed]

See further

  • Coca eradication
  • Coca-Cola
  • Huallaga Valley


  1. ^ a b c Coca leaves not hallucinogenic - Comunidad Boliviana in Argentina (Spanish)
  2. ^ a b Erythroxylum Cataractarum -
  3. ^ a b Cocaina (Spanish).
  4. ^ How To Make Cocaine HCl.
  5. ^ Substances that produce addiction - University of Buenos Aires (Spanish).
  6. ^ What's the best way to prevent altitude sickness?
  7. ^ Altitude Sickness - Soroche, Cusco by Virtual Tourist
  8. ^ PERUherbals, a commercial website
  • The Coca Museum (A private museum in La Paz, Bolivia)
  • Coca - Cocaine website of the Transnational Institute (TNI)
  • Coca leaf news page - Alcohol and Drugs History Society
  • [1] - More details about coca tea
  • , Coca Tea


  • 16 photos of Coca Tea manufactured by Enaco S.A. in Peru
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Coca_tea". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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