Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: Peruvian Coca Leaves

Erythroxylum novogranatense var. truxillense

Around Christmas I ordered some fresh coca leaves from a vendor on eBay with my spare dough.  I used to chew them when I had to work at a gas station back in the day, but those were Bolivian leaves & it was a long time ago.  I wanted to revisit the substance Evo Morales calls "...the leaf that represents the culture of indigenous people of the Andean region".  There are apparently 4 different "strains" of coca that grow in different regions:  Bolivian, Colombian, Peruvian & Ecuadorian.  Mine are the "truxillense" variety from Peru.

Peruvian mail can move at a snail's pace (especially during the holidays), which I learned many years ago.  But Serpost was on point this time & got my leaves into the country in about 3 weeks.  They sat in customs for a few days & then shook loose before arriving at my house in mid-January.  Not quite a month after ordering.  Believe it or not, that's great timing for Serpost.  The leaves were packaged with several other items like this:

50 grams of fresh leaf only cost $18, but the shipping doubled the price.  Ah well, it was the holidays & I wanted to splurge.  Upon opening the package I am hit with a fresh green tea smell.  Mmmm...chlorophyll.  The leaves ARE fresh, or at least fresher than the dried leaves & teas I used to purchase from Mysterious Bolivian (who has doubled & tripled their prices, by the way.  Not cool).

I run the leaves under some water in a sieve to wash off any germs that might've clung on during harvest or transit before popping a few in my cheek sans baking soda.  (Baking soda supposedly helps absorb the desirable alkaloids but I've never found it necessary, plus it hurts my stomach).  When chewing coca leaves, it's best to strip the main stem out so it doesn't poke your cheeks but these leaves are really small & soft so I just eat the whole thing. 

Within minutes, I feel the familiar relaxed stimulation of the coca plant.  Combined with some high-CBD hemp, I feel chill & clear-headed for the first time in a week.  I always become more sensitive to sound while chewing coca, but this variety seems to be less intense in that regard.  Don't know if it's because it's a different strain or the fact that they're fresher & greener and contain different alkaloids than dry leaves. These fresh leaves are something special that most of us in North America don't get to experience, as coca doesn't grow well up here.  I much prefer them to the dry crispy ones.

I look forward to chewing as I'm doing garden work this Summer or going on my yearly roadtrip with mom.  If you're wondering about the legality of this plant in the U.S., I'd advise you to do your research before ordering.  While the tea is widely available on sites like Amazon, the whole leaves are a bit more sketchy looking to law enforcement.  And coca in all forms is technically a Schedule II controlled substance, so if it is confiscated by customs, you're likely to get a warning letter from them instead of your leaves.

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