Teeccino Buzz

Andrea has been an Ambassador since June of last year and has done a number of fun events sharing Teeccino. Andrea shared her experience about serving Teeccino at a party, and also sent the most wonderful pics! She told us: “It was a get-together with friends. Everyone really enjoyed the products. They were surprised how good the different flavors were. […]

Teresa became a Teeccino Ambassador earlier this year, and we were happy to support her first event – a beach house party with friends! Teresa gave us the details in her online event report, and sent us the most amazing photos…we couldn’t ask for more! Teresa told us: “We were all staying in one beach […]

Carla has been a Teeccino Ambassador since February of this year and she’s really making the most of it! She recently shared Teeccino at four different events. She sent in lovely photos from them, and told us in her report: “It was a ladies tea party at a friend’s house. We had a delightful brunch including treats […]

Cynthia is an L.A. based Teeccino Ambassador whose vegan business combines gourmet catering and treats as ‘Cyn-fully Delicious‘. Teeccino is  a perfect compliment to her vegan goodies. Cynthia told us about recently sharing and telling conference goers all about Teeccino, at the National Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles – “The Animal Rights Conference is a […]

Kelli, an Ambassador since 2013, recently talked about Teeccino and gave samples at a Weight Watchers meeting she organized. Kelli told us: “Everyone was so excited to try the samples. Some said they were looking for a soothing afternoon – evening way to treat themselves. They liked that unlike coffee, they can drink this anytime of the […]

Kay is a holistic health & lifestyle coach based in New York who does many Ambassador events throughout the year. Recently she participated in a Parkchester Community event for the 3rd year. As she had in the past, Kay took along Teeccino to share samples and educated attendees on the benefits of Teeccino. She told us: “This young lady […]

You may be wondering, “Now what is she going on about?”. Well, if you bear with me, I’d like to tell you about a revolutionary theory that proves that the Maya didn’t destroy their forest as the majority of scholars believe, but survived in an era of climate change and drought by practicing sustainable cultivation of the Maya forest for…eight millennia! Yes, eight thousand years!!

There’s an interesting Teeccino story in here too. It’s the story of how I fortuitously met Anabel Ford, Director of the MesoAmerican Research Center at the University of California in Santa Barbara, on a Saturday morning in our wonderful local farmer’s market. That very morning I was pondering where I could find information about the Maya civilization’s use of ramon seeds, the novel ingredient that is the base of Teeccino’s Maya flavors. It was 2005 and I can tell you that no one in North America was thinking about ramón trees and their seeds except two women who serendipitously happened to live in the same town of Santa Barbara. Both were passionate about preserving this tree that was so important to the Maya and to the rainforest.

As I strolled through booths filled with an abundance of organically grown fruits and vegetables, I was surprised to see in a corner of the market a hand-drawn sign with big letters trumpeting “Maya Coffee”. There were also large photos of ramón trees and a big jar full of their seeds. I stopped in shock. OMG! From a large coffee urn, a blonde-haired woman handed me a cup of ‘coffee’ while earnestly explaining about the benefits of ramón seeds and how the Maya drank them roasted and brewed like coffee!

There I was thinking about the copy I needed to write about ramón seeds for my press release, product labels etc. and there in front of me was an expert who had a trove of historical information about Maya traditions and the importance of the ramón tree to their culture and to forest preservation. Wow.

I couldn’t have found anyone more knowledgeable about the Maya’s use of the seeds than Anabel Ford. Her entire career has been devoted to proving that the Maya didn’t deforest Central America and then abandon their cities due to over-population and the collapse of corn-based agriculture. Instead, she has proven that the Maya actively gardened in the forest, cultivating ramón and other trees, vines, and botanicals that provided food, medicine and materials for their homes and clothing.

Anabel’s newly published book, The Maya Forest Garden, confronts the theory that the Maya succumbed to destructive agricultural practices and thus abandon their cities. Instead she proves that the Maya have continuously gardened within the forest for over 8,000 years while practicing their “milpa” system of agriculture. This little understood system of land use cycles through phases of fields to forest over 20-30 years. To the arriving Spaniards and still to scientists today, this sustainable system of land management has been ignored.

Anabel shows that the Maya left at least half the area in their towns as forest surrounding their homes. In fact, when the Spanish arrived and dominated their culture, the Viceroy prohibited them from planting forests within their towns. The Spanish wanted nice clean streets and permanently cleared fields just like they had left behind in Europe.

The ramón tree was at the heart of the Maya forest garden. Towering at 130 ft in the upper canopy, the ramón tree is the only wind-pollinated tree in the entire Central American forest. Thus open areas in the forest are naturally reforested first by ramón seedlings sprouting from pollen carried there by the wind.

The Maya called the ramón tree, the corn tree, because they ground its seeds into flour for use like corn flour. They also roasted the seeds and drank them as a brewed hot beverage long before the Spaniards brought coffee to the Americas. When I first heard of ramón coffee, I had to taste it. But getting it took me almost 10 years as we worked with the Guatemalan government to prove that harvesting the abundant seeds within the forest wouldn’t harm the forest or starve any animals eating the seeds.

In fact, the seeds are really hard and only a wild boar has strong enough teeth to crunch them up. They don’t contain any fat so you can’t just pop them in your mouth and chew them. They have to be dried and ground in a flour mill. Since many of the people living in the forest now have been cut off from Maya traditions due to political disruption and relocation, these nutritious seeds were literally going to waste on the forest floor before we gringos came along and gave them economic value.

Now, over 10 years later, ramón trees and their seeds are recognized as a valuable food source that is free for the collection. The Guatemalan government supports women’s cooperatives that bake cookies and muffins with ramón flour for consumption in the school lunch programs. The tree is being replanted in open areas and reforestation is beginning.

Nevertheless, as Anabel says in her book, the future of the milpa system, which allows the forest and its inhabitants to live sustainably together, is unclear. She states, “In its high-performance mode, the Maya milpa is a form of restoration agriculture….Each cycle of production results in abundant products for family subsistence, trade and tribute. The system also prevents erosion and compaction, increases soil fertility, and builds long term carbon reserves in the soil and in enriched woodland vegetation. A dialogue of scientific and traditional farmer knowledge is desperately needed to construct productive conservation landscapes for the future of the tropics worldwide.”

In other words, we can’t just conserve forests without making them economically productive for the people who live in or around them. With population growth and agricultural systems that depend on cleared land, our forests are under attack. Yet they are our best hope for carbon sequestration that can reverse climate change and help cool down our planet. Along with organic agriculture where it is proven that soil under organic systems captures carbon due to its high humus content, we can reverse the effects of too much CO2 in our atmosphere.

It’s called regenerative agriculture and the Maya have been practicing it for eight thousand years. You can still find traditional Maya families using the milpa system now just like their ancestors used so many years ago.

But deforestation is rampant everywhere in the tropics. I like to think that Teeccino has played a small role in helping to reverse this trend. As we support the harvest of ramón seeds and the planting of ramón trees in Central America, we’re helping to give economic incentive to preserve rainforests. Our use of ramón seeds is part of an effort to find many economically productive plants within the forest. Our success depends on many factors but with determination, we hope to overcome the obstacles and bring the value of the ramón tree back to its central place in the forest just like it has been for so many centuries to the Maya!

Things You Can Do To Support Anabel’s Work:

Ford, Anabel and Nigh, Ronald. The Maya Forest Garden, Eight Millennia of Sustainable Cultivation of the Tropical Woodlands, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California, 2015.

Kelly recently became an Ambassador and has done some fantastic events like this one at her work. Kelly’s latest event was a baby shower! She told us all about it in her recent report, and sent in the sweetest pics too – “It was a baby shower for a friend. I set out the Teeccino […]

Brenda recently shared Teeccino at the Michigan university where she works, for Administrative Professionals Day. Not only was it the perfect weather for a warm drink, it was an indulgent day for all in attendance! She told us all about it in her recent report – “There were 65-70 attendees over a period of 3 hours. […]

Trish is a longtime Teeccino Ambassador, and her most recent event was at the biblical nutrition class she hosts. Trish told us all about it in her report: “I brewed Teeccino and shared Tee-bags with my Biblical Nutrition Sunday School class. I also hand out samples, pamphlets and coupons to my reflexology clients and a friend passed them […]