Steeped in Tradition: 7 Belizean Teas to Try

Contributors: Cindey Rivero & Phylicia Pelayo

The great debate – coffee or tea? Coffee and tea lovers are often divided on which is the tastiest and most effective “pick-me-up” beverage. On this occasion, tea comes out on top for a variety of reasons. Tea drinking in Belize is steeped in tradition and cultural knowledge. Belize also offers a wide variety of flavors for the occasional and the dedicated tea drinker. An added bonus is that one doesn’t have to go very far to source the ingredients for a good cup of tea.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a noticeable return to and call for natural remedies including herbal teas. With their delightful natural flavors and nutritional value the consumption of herbal teas became a part of wellness routines for many. It was on this note that the Banquitas House of Culture launched a new series called Tea Time Thursdays. The series featured weekly short Facebook videos highlighting a different herbal tea that could be easily prepared at home with just a few ingredients. Community members demonstrated the process of brewing their favourite tea and shared some of the health benefits they provide.

Cindey Rivero, Coordinator of the Banquitas House of Culture shares more on how the Tea Time Thursday series came to be:

Where did the idea come from to do the series?  The Banquitas House of Culture aims to create and share educational content on our social media platforms on all aspects of Belize’s culture and heritage. In this case, the idea was sparked on Facebook. I saw many posts from family and friends seeking organic remedies to boost the immune system or help combat COVID-19. This made me realize that traditional medicine and home remedies were an essential part of our livelihood that seemed to have been forgotten. Herbs and natural medicinal remedies resurfaced and this was the perfect time to reach out to the guardians of traditional knowledge and wisdom to share with us these local, natural and healthy teas. 

Why did you choose to highlight herbal teas? Mainly because they are delicious and easy to make. As part of our customary practice, we tend to have breakfast with tea or coffee. Mind you, many of our abuelitos enjoy a delicious cup of tea instead of coffee. So, I wanted to share with our followers a variety of teas that one can make at home with tree leaves and barks that are common to us. The best part is that they can probably be found in your backyard!

Tell us more about the contributors in the videos. How did the collaboration take place? The persons featured in these videos are considered part of the Banquitas family. They play a vital role in the development of the House of Culture programs and the safeguarding of Maya heritage. They are cultural guardians and custodians with vast knowledge of traditional customs and beliefs. Without a doubt, I knew that they would be great contributors to this series simply because they make these teas regularly. All of them were able to provide from the top of their heads a tea that they brew at home and they were more than happy to share their special tea with us. 

What has the feedback/reception been like since the series was launched? The feedback has been overwhelming with positive remarks, comments, suggestions and appreciation. This series was a refresher for some, new to many, and helpful to everyone. Many shared which tea they wanted to see next and some added to the health benefits of each tea featured. I didn’t think it would be this successful but I am glad that it did because it was a reminder to many of us that the environment has so much to offer us. We are glad that many people shared it and most importantly learned about the health benefits of teas featured.  I hope that the series serves its purpose of traditional knowledge preservation and safeguarding.

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