We chatted with Lopa van der Mersch, founder and CEO of Rasa, to discuss the benefits of substituting your daily coffee with a clinical-herbalist formulated, sustainable alternative
Rasa was launched in 2018 as a herbal coffee alternative. Our flagship products include the Cacao Brew and the Dirty Rasa, but the whole of our range is based on a formula that uses Ayurvedic, Chinese, and Western herbs to nourish and energize.
As they say in Chinese medicine, “coffee borrows energy from tomorrow to fuel today.” At Rasa, we believe in nourishing today to fuel tomorrow. All of our products will energize, nourish, uplift, and support the body over a long period of time.
Adaptogens are a class of herbs or non-toxic substances which work predominantly with the neuroendocrine system. This system communicates to the adrenals that the body is under stress and adaptogens micro-trigger this in a way that exercises healthily – in the same way lifting weights exercises the muscles. Adaptogens, over time, have a buffering effect on your body and build resilience.
The word adaptogen is actually a scientific term that was developed in the 1940s, but the herbs have all been used for thousands of years in traditional cultures.
I started taking adaptogens long ago but it was in 2008 that I really started to take an interest in what they could do to our bodies. When I looked more in-depth at these herbs (and holistic remedies in general), I came to realize that tonic use, which is lower levels of use over a longer period of time, has more of an impact on our system.
I only became familiar with some adaptogens through Rasa products and consuming them regularly over a long period of time made me aware of their positive effects – stabilization of energy being the most remarkable.
We use about 20 different adaptogens across our range, but there are seven that are in most of our products. Every herb has its own personality – whether that’s soothing, calming, energizing, etc – as well as its own additional function.
Broadly, the benefits include having an overall normalizing effect on the body and helping to establish and maintain homeostasis. These amazing superherbs work through both your hormonal and nervous systems to help your body cope with stress more effectively.
We base our doses on what studies have shown to be good synergies when blending adaptogens and from the results that herbalists have had over the years. We work hand in hand with a third-party expert, in addition to our own in-house herbalist, and are constantly running our blends by external herbalists for outside perspectives.
We source 48 botanicals from 12 different countries. Geo-authenticity is of high priority to us. Herbs are at their most potent, and most efficacious, when they’re grown in their native environment.
We do make exceptions, however. For example, the Chaga mushroom (which is a herb but not an adaptogen), is an ingredient we love but there are long-term sustainability concerns involved with its over-commercialization. For this reason, we use farmed Chaga mushrooms from Canada, and choose sustainability over geo-authenticity. When sustainability concerns are raised, we will go this route every time.
Some people notice a difference straight away; they sleep better, handle life situations more easily, and feel less anxious. For others, it might take longer to see a difference, and weaning themselves off caffeine might be a long and tough journey. We do recommend a transition period for this reason.
Having said that, we’re certainly not against coffee and, in fact, one of our products contains caffeine. But by substituting coffee with these herbs long-term, it’ll have a replenishing, soothing, and energizing effect on the body.
Stress has been shown to be strongly linked to many diseases, so yes, I believe that anything you do to reduce stress levels is going to have a positive effect on your health and immune system.
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! The two I find myself most drawn to are the Calm blend and the Super Happy Sunshine blend. The latter just makes for a good day and the former is equivalent to having a glass of wine after work, without any of the negative effects of alcohol. I take the Bold blend, too, which works wonders for sleep.
We’d like to change the conversation around “energy” in our culture. We believe coffee should be seen as a drug – similar to alcohol – where it’s socially acceptable but also very easy to abuse.
We’d like to see Rasa available everywhere, as a healthy, nourishing alternative. We think there should be more prevalent alternatives on offer, and envisage Rasa at coffee shops around the world, in hotels, and even on airlines.
We would also love to see Rasa at this level of popularity because it means the world will be operating less from a stressed, caffeine-induced cortisol hit. We’d be able to access our best selves and use our executive cognitive function instead of relying on a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) stress response.
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