I interviewed a Fillipino woman about her experience with guava leaves. Her family couldn’t afford to buy medicine, so it was common to use guava leaves for healing. They ate or boiled them into a tea for curing ulcers, healing wounds or lowering a fever. Check out the video above or on the Guava Leaf Extract Youtube channel.
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On the evening of day two, I got online and made phone call after phone call. “Do you carry guava leaf tea?” I would ask. “What kind of tea?” the response would be. “Could you spell it?” “One more call,” I told myself. “Someone has to know SOMETHING.”
Then … someone did! Drug Stop 22 had it!! The poor woman on the phone did not understand my excitement, and so I explained. I had been searching for days, I told her. DAYS! And I finally found someone who carries it! The trail was warming back up.
Day three: I went to Drug Stop 22 and spoke with an employee named Melissa. She said she carried the tea because people requested it, but she didn’t know what they used it for. She also told me that she was fairly sure guava leaf tea was sold in Chinatown.
So off I went to Chinatown. I found guava leaf tea at one of the huge stores, Wing Hop Fung, and at another small market, BJ’s Market. There were a couple different kinds of tea – one branded as a detox tea, another as a tea for diabetics. At last, my efforts were panning out. The women at the tea counter said they sold a decent amount of the tea, and that it was very beneficial for healthy blood sugar levels, as well as for the gastro-intestinal system.
Driving back to Las Vegas, I reflected on my trip. What had I found? Guava leaves have been used for many centuries, but by only a segment of the world’s population. Even in trend-setting L.A., it remains an herb popular only within Asian culture. The general population may be missing out, but we now know the baseline. And with the popularity of all things Asian, and with the huge number of tea and herbal retailers in Southern California, it may be only a matter of time before the guava leaf market expands.
My search for guava leaves in L.A. continues, and the trail grows warmer as I meet people of Asian descent who have enjoyed it in the past. But if I am to find people currently enjoying guava leaf’s benefits, I soon discover that I need a new game plan.
The next morning at Erewhon, one of the largest and best-known natural foods markets in L.A., I spoke with Shonie, a small-framed Filipino woman. “Filipino guava leaves are the best guava leaves,” she told me with a smile. “My grandma used to get the stink really bad,” she said, crinkling her nose and waving her hands in front of her armpits. “She use guava leaves, and it goes away! She’d boil them, then bathe in the water and pack the leaves under her arms. It works very well!”
At the juice bar within one of the many Whole Foods I went into, I found Nancy, a woman also of Asian descent. She told me that her mom used to give her and her siblings guava leaf tea in the mornings when they were little while their parents drank coffee. “I don’t know why they gave us guava leaf tea, but we always had it,” Nancy told me. “I like it, but I haven’t had any for a long time.”
At this point, I was both encouraged and discouraged. I was starting to find people who were familiar with guava leaves, but unfortunately, I had yet to find any physical evidence of their presence in L.A.. I had exhausted the more obvious channels. I retreated back to my hotel to review my notes and make a new game plan.
After years of reviewing research papers and attending lectures on topics related to Guava Leaf Extract, I thought it was time to do some field research. I knew that West L.A. is often a hotbed for new trends, so I headed west. My goal: to connect with trend makers in Southern California who already know about Guava Leaves and to uncover where interest in this herb is most likely to gain momentum.
I reside in Las Vegas, only a four-hour drive to L.A., so this was a relatively easy trip to plan. Upon my arrival in West Hollywood, I was struck by the number of tea shops and holistic-health stores. This seemed a likely area to find people using guava leaves.
Before beginning my search, I first settled into my home for the week, Le Montrose Suite Hotel, near the famous Sunset Strip. This lovely modern boutique hotel is tucked away in a quiet West Hollywood neighborhood. I chatted with the smiling front desk workers, and asked whether they had ever heard of anybody using guava leaf – they hadn’t. I explained my mission for the week: to track down any and all uses of guava leaf by anyone in the Los Angeles area. Immediately, one of the desk guys presented me with my first lead: the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, which has a small herb store in the back. This popular holistic store was just a few blocks away. I thanked him, and the hunt was on.
I went immediately to Bodhi Tree, and asked the tall, thin bespectacled employee if he had ever heard of anyone using guava leaves. He hadn’t. He provided me with a list, though, of homeopathic pharmacies and herb stores in the area. Score! I started going through the list, plugging each new address into my GPS, driving from destination to destination. Surely I would find someone who would have helpful information along the way.
By the end of day two, I still hadn’t found any place that carried guava leaf extract, tea or any other derivative. Trying not to be disappointed, I continued my search. I had spoken with homeopathic pharmacists and herb store owners (a few of the herb stores I wandered into only specialized in one kind of herb – not the kind I was looking for). All agreed that there was science behind guava leaf, but they didn’t know of anyone who sold it. Sadly, it felt as though my hot pursuit to find guava leaf in West Hollywood was growing cold.