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In 1820 the first Bolivian coca leaf liqueur, was manufactured by the De Medici in Bologna, Italy and sold throughout Europe. Rudyard Kipling described the powerful elixir as being made "from the clippings and shavings of angels wings", the product was removed from the market with the banning of cocaine.

But well before that, the native South American Indian population had used the coca leaf for ancient rituals for over 4000 years. Leading authorities for Mayan and Inca studies have challenged Agwa's claim to be the world's first "Psycho-Active" spirit drink.

Neither the claims nor the effect are disputed but a leading Mayan Foundation contends that, "Herbal based beverages were at the centre of practices by Mayan elders. Among their people these elders were great men and visionaries. The visions gave direction to the tribe and were the result of taking a spirit fermented from herbs and then flavoured with honey."

This may indeed be a precursor to Agwa, however, the Mayan elders didn't actually drink the spirit. They filled a funnel shaped gourd (shell of a fruit) with the liquid and inserted it where the sun doesn't shine. This is not among the recommended ways to use Agwa...

Today bales of Bolivian Coca leaf are shipped under armed guard to Amsterdam where they are distilled. An extremely distinctive peppery herbal base is then blended with other herbs like guarana & ginseng to balance the taste and augment the effect.

Coca leaf today is drunk as a tea and chewed for hours by farmers and miners in South American countries such as Bolivia. It improves stamina and provides essential nutrients. The World Health Organisation, the UN's Inter Regional Crime and Justice research institutes cocaine project ALL maintain that coca users show none of the classic signs of addiction.

Guarana is the extract from the seeds of the common Amazonian climber Paullina Cupana. The South American Guarani Indians make a paste from the crushed seeds, cassava flour and water. The paste is rolled into cylinders and dried. The residue is then grated and the shavings are dissolved in hot sweet water. Typically the resultant brew contains about 5% caffeine.

Caffeine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, heart, blood vessels and kidneys. The positive effects that have been described in people who use caffeine include motor skills, decreased fatigue, enhanced sensory activity and increased alertness. However, caffeine intake may also produce such negative effects as irritability, nervousness or anxiety, headaches and insomnia.

True Ginseng is the source of a stimulant and supposed aphrodisiac that is extracted from the roots of the plant. It is native to China. Ginseng has a sweetly aromatic flavour. The basis of Ginseng's effect is believed to be due to chemical agents that increase the brains adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) activity without involving the adrenal glands. A generalised mental arousal is thereby effected.

Check out the Bolivian Kiss (as well as other recipes) in the rituals section... We recommend using lime to get maximum effect out of your Agwa experience.

Biting the lime first works in the same way as the South American practice of chewing Coca leaves with limes. The lime changes the PH of the mouth, which activates the alkaloids in the leaf to produce a powerful oxygen buzz.

Coca leaf alkaloids work by speeding up the rate of absorption of oxygen into the body’s capillary system. It is a natural ‘rush’ and naturally controversial.

Another cool aspect of AGWA is that the colder it becomes, the brighter green it becomes. Unfortunately currently unavailable here in BC, it has a suggested price of $31.95(US) per 750ml bottle.


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