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I'll come right out with it: I'm a chronic oversleeper. I get up almost every day feeling behind already, my to-do list much more suited for someone who wakes with the sun. Friends, family -- even my rise-and-shine boyfriend -- bound out of bed instead, ready to tackle their mornings while I continue my codependent relationship with the snooze button. Because no matter how groggy their waking moments are, morning risers know there's a pick-me-up waiting for them in the kitchen: a good old cup of coffee.
And that, I've always thought, was the root of my problem. For whatever reason, I'm not built for coffee and coffee isn't built for me. As much as I love the roasted aroma and bracingly bitter taste, a few sips in and I'm cracked out with all the wrong kinds of energy. It's a wiry, jittery, anxious buzz that derails my productivity instead of honing it. Even the wrong iced tea can send me into a tizzy.
So I've learned to live my life sans caffeine, all the while wishing there was an alternative, a less intense, but still energy-boosting, drink that's a little bit more my speed. Which is where Rasa comes in.
Coffee Or Tea-- Or Option Three?
The world's first energizing, caffeine-free coffee alternative, Rasa is busting the door wide open in an industry long dominated by King Coffee. Much like me, founder Lopa van der Mersch found her nervous system getting way too taxed by the intense, depleting energy of caffeine -- which, on top of the stresses of early motherhood, only fueled her exhaustion even further.
So, as a long devotee of Ayurvedic practices, she turned to the healing potential of naturally-occurring adaptogens, partnering with an herbalist to explore ingredients that would trend towards balanced energy levels instead of always ratcheting things up. While popular coffee alternatives like matcha and yerba maté still get their boosts from caffeine, Rasa utilizes herbs and roots like chicory, cacao, burdock, and dandelion instead.
These ingredients, long used in homeopathic medicines, will pick you up if you're in need of a lift, but will also calm you down if you're a little too wired. Their main effect is to help you cope with stress, resulting in longer, more stable forms of energy that don't send you careening from highs to low.
Or that's the idea anyway. As someone who'd never met an upper that did me right, I had a fair amount of trust issues for Rasa to cut through before it landed a place in my morning ritual. So I got my hands on the brand’s flagship Cacao product ($28) -- as well as a Rasa Ritual Sample Pack to try my hand at all their offerings -- and decided to take the plunge.
Opening my sampler pack, I felt overwhelmed in the best way. With nine products in total, and four servings of each, it's truly an embarrassment of riches -- not to mention a massive steal at only $36. The different formulas range in desired outcomes, from the upbeat, energy-boosting Bold to the aphrodisiac Sex Tonic. But despite their disparate effects, each flavor calls for the same easy preparation.
The back of the package breaks things down super cleanly: steep 1 Tbsp. of Rasa in 8 oz. of boiling water for between 10-15 minutes before straining. I used one of the brand’s gorgeous, eco-friendly French presses for convenience's sake, but tested out how it worked in a fine-mesh strainer and found no issues at all. (Rasa also has brewing tips on its website for every appliance under the sun.) After that, all that's needed is a sweetener of your choosing -- think honey or agave -- plus something creamy if that's your wavelength: dairy milk, plant-based mylks, or Rasa's very own Creme de la Creamer (also in the sample pack.)
Taste-wise, it's delicious -- but just like coffee, completely subjective. I found that the darker, bolder brews did want that touch of added sweetness, while the more citrus-y Super Happy Sunshine Joy Tonic drank beautifully on its own. It's all a matter of preference, but the flavors are pleasantly balanced and, unlike other adaptogenic drinks, taste way more complex than a pile of herbs and roots.
But most importantly, I can't get over how good it makes me feel. A cup of Rasa brings new clarity to my mornings, cutting through the fog in a way nothing else has -- with no jitters in sight. I can pour myself another round without worrying about overdoing it, I can make it ahead to drink over ice. It's given me flexibility with my energy level, without the artificial overdrive that makes coffee so depleting.
So, Where To Start?
While I'd always recommend the sampler pack as a fun kickoff to the world of Rasa, I actually prefer the functionality of the brand’s larger 8-oz. bags. This larger packaging comes with a resealable top, and is much easier to dig into with my handy tablespoon. So for those of you who are ready to add those big boys right to your cart, here's my vote for the top three contenders.
For pick-me-up: Cacao
Hot chocolate that's the healthiest part of your day? You're not dreaming; it really is possible. Rasa's Cacao product adds direct-trade Ecuadorian cacao to its signature 12-herb blend, giving a rich, new layer to their already strong Original flavor. Because cacao is naturally caffeinated, each cup has 5 mg of it, but since that's about 1/20th of the average cup of coffee, and it's balanced by 1700mg of adaptogens, it's totally smooth sailing. A cup of Cacao has become my morning go-to, and is unreasonably good with a splash of coconut creamer.
For heal-me-now: Well, Well, Wellderberry
Listen, after the year we just had, I'm hyper in-tune with my immune system. Luckily Rasa has its very own Immunity Tonic, anchored by elderberry, cardamom and ginger, all of which bring a lovely natural sweetness. I've got this one in constant rotation, as its 10,000mg of immune-supporting herbs are designed to build and maintain healthy systems, specifically stimulating lymphatic and circulatory flow. It beats Emergen-C (or DayQuil, for that matter) any day.
For wind-me-down: Calm
As much as I love a nice cup of chamomile, there's something about it that's very… grandma's kitchen table. Not that there's anything wrong with that! But Rasa's very own Chill Tonic has a lot more going on, with blue lotus, reishi, and the powerhouse of the adaptogenic world, ashwagandha. Perfect for a night-time sip, especially now that it's wintertime, Calm is as cozy as a nice, warm blanket -- and takes the edge off while keeping things all-natural.
5 More Reasons To Love Rasa:
- Rasa takes sustainability incredibly seriously, even declining to use wildly popular adaptogens like wild-harvested chaga because it's endangered.
- The brand is incredibly transparent, even inviting customers to track its third party testing for heavy metals and sulfites in real time.
- Rasa’s chief herbalist and co-founder has been described as "annoyingly ethical," speaking to the strict standards Rasa has around fair trade practices and prices.
- There's Rasa for day AND for night. The Calm blend will chill you out adaptogens that ground and soothe. A potent dose of the powerhouse herb Ashwagandha is balanced with Blue Lotus, Reishi, and Blue Vervain for deep relaxation.
- Not only does its membership program take 20% off your shipment costs, it also includes a free consultation with a clinical herbalist to clear up any questions.