Waku’s backstory goes like this: Two millennials — Juan Giraldo, 29, and Nicolas Estrella, 26 — remember fondly the “wellness tea” they grew up drinking in their native Ecuador, and after both moved to Boston they decided to produce the herbal beverage in their hometown of Quito and sell it in the Greater Boston area; in doing so, they help sustain the livelihoods of a half-dozen or so independent Andes farmers, who grow the medicinal herbs and flowers used in the “healing water,” and employ others in its production. With help from Babson College’s Summer Venture Program for student entrepreneurs and a successful crowd-funding campaign, the duo launched the product last fall.
Waku is best described as an herbal infusion of 20 herbs and flowers, including dried mint, Escancel, rose petals, chamomile, and lemongrass, brewed in filtered water. The name comes from the word wanku, which means “together” in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people of Ecuador. Estrella says they chose the name because it represents both the blending of the ingredients as well as the communal effort behind the product. The age-old drink from southern Ecuador is usually consumed with meals as it is not only refreshing but believed to aid digestion and cure other ills, says Estrella. Waku, available in Lemon Hint (original flavor), Unsweetened (Lemon), and Passion Fruit ($4 for a 10-ounce bottle), has a pleasant yet subtle floral-herbal taste; it’s best chilled, enjoyed like iced tea.
Available at many area stores, including Cambridge Naturals, 23 White St., Cambridge, 617-492-4452; Idylwilde Farm, 366 Central St., Acton, 978-263-5943; Broadway Marketplace, 468 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-547-2334; and online at www.livewaku.com.