In 2009, two Brown University graduates moved temporarily to Ecuador where they worked on a plan to bring the health of the Amazon to the rest of the world. In 2010, they did it by introducing RUNA infusers, followed by bottled beverages in the spring of 2012. Today, you can find RUNA nationwide in more than 10,000 stores including Whole Foods, Safeway, GNC Vitamin Shop, and many others.
The difference in their products, says co-founder Dan MacCombie, is due to what he calls their “special sauce”—the guayusa (pronounced gwhy-you-sa) leaf.
“Guayusa is different than any other leaf and unique to the Amazonian jungle,” said MacCombie. “We’ve created the world’s first supply chain for guayusa.”
This super leaf is packed with the same amount of caffeine as coffee and twice the antioxidants of green tea, yet lacks the tannins that gives some black and green teas a bitter taste. The result is a smooth, naturally sweet taste that MacCombie and business partner Tyler Gage refer to as “clean energy.”
“All of our products are made from guayusa and products that fit remarkably well into people’s lives,” said MacCombie. “It’s a calm, clean beverage and great for that 2 p.m. time period when you don’t want another cup of coffee.”
RUNA offers a variety of flavors in their bottles, energy drinks and loose leaf tins. The Hibiscus Berry is the top seller in the bottled variety, but Guava Zero Unsweeted Guayusa is a close second.
Guayusa tea has been brewed for thousands of years in the Ecuadorian Amazon with native hunters saying it gives them mental strength and courage. RUNA by definition means “fully alive” and that’s why Gage and MacCombie picked this name for their healthy products.
MacCombie says their business model is based on core values of introducing products the world has never seen before while offering support to Ecuadorian farmers, which ultimately helps protect the rainforest.
Actor Channing Tatum is just one of the many devoted RUNA fans. On the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, he said, “We found this tea called RUNA that basically gave us the energy of the gods.”
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