Energy beverages have a long history in the soft drink industry, despite their recent incarnation as the drink of choice among the young, the urban, the hip. Coca Cola is the most obvious example, as its original formulation contained both coca leaves and kola nuts, sources of the stimulants cocaine and caffeine.
Perhaps if you are an Incan descendent living in Peru, you might still be able to make an energy drink from coca leaves. For the rest of us, there’s always yerba maté, the national drink of several South American countries.
Yerba maté itself is a deeply entrenched cultural phenomenon in much of South America, where it is consumed both privately and socially in a way similar to that of coffee in North America. Like coffee, it contains both caffeine and antioxidants, giving it a reputation as both a natural stimulant and an herbal medicine. Guarana is another traditional South American beverage ingredient. With about twice the caffeine as an equivalent amount of coffee, guarana seed powder is often found in popular soft drinks in the region.
Both yerba maté and guarana are, however, fairly bitter in taste. To increase their palatability in a drink containing enough of them to have a significant stimulating effect, they are often mixed with sugar and other spices. Inti Inca Energy Drink adds Inca and Maqui berries, lemon juice and zest together with a bit of chai spice to round out its complex flavor.