Company Profile: RUNA

You never know what path a trip abroad might set you off on. In 2007, Dan MacCombie, a student at Brown University studying Conservation, went to Ecuador and lived with the indigenous people, the Kichwa of the Amazonian rainforest. There he was introduced to a brewed leaf beverage that the people drank in the morning to help interpret their dreams and again at night to help them stay awake and alert for nighttime hunting. The brewed beverage is made from the leaves of the guayusa tree, an evergreen holly that can grow to nearly 100 feet tall. The guayusa leaves, pronounced /gwhy-you-suh/ are dried and steeped to create a beverage which has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and double the antioxidants of green tea without any bitter taste. 

Upon graduating college, MacCombie teamed up with fellow graduate and friend, Tyler Gage, and they decided to develop a business that could provide a way of life for the Kichwa people, prevent deforestation in the Amazon, and bring a new beverage to the United States. 

They named their company, RUNA, which means “fully alive” in the Kichwa language. Their first source of financial support came in the form of a grant from the Ecuadorian government. They are now purchasing leaves from over 2300 indigenous farmers. The leaves are dried, milled, sifted and packed into bags and sent to the United States to be packaged as dried tea or made into ready-to-drink beverages in bottles or cans. Over 150,000 guayusa trees are planted annually to meet demand and since guayusa need the shade of the rainforest canopy to thrive, no native trees are removed. 

May is a great time to try RUNA.  With every purchase of 2 bottles, the Co-op will give you a raffle ticket for a chance to win a bike! The Co-op sells four of the boxed teas: Traditional, Cinnamon Lemongrass, Mint and Ginger Citrus. They also sell the canned ready-to-drink carbonated Clean Energy Drinks in Berry, Lime, and Blood Orange and the bottled ready-to-drink teas in Raspberry, Peach, Mint Honeysuckle, Hibiscus Berry and Unsweetened Guava. 

RUNA Snapshot

  • Founded in 2009
  • Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY
  • Non-GMO Product Certified
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Certified Organic

Information from this article and more can be found at:

Amy Newsome enjoyed learning that one of the Amazonian indigenous peoples, the Jivaro, always warn visitors that if they drink the beverage made with guayusa leaves that they will always be drawn back to the Amazon. In Dan MacCombie’s case, I guess that’s true!