Mauby is a type of tea or syrup made on many Caribbean islands, which has a distinct flavor that some say resembles root beer. Unlike root beer, mauby, which can also be spelled mabi, maby, and mavi, tends to have a fairly bitter aftertaste. People who love the drink say the taste is an acquired one, but still quite refreshing. It is by far one of the most popular beverages in the Caribbean, among both native residents and visitors to the region.
How It Is Made
The drink or syrup for the drink is made by boiling a specific buckthorn bark, Colubrina elliptica, with sugar and a variety of spices. With regard to individual recipes for mauby, the types of spices and flavorings included often vary. Cinnamon is usually included, but then the drink's flavoring diverges according to recipe. Some people add cloves, anise, and vanilla extract; while others prefer cola flavoring and many suggest adding "Angostura bitters," which helps to balance out the bitter aftertaste.
Mauby syrup is the concentrated form of the drink, which people add to either sparkling or plain water. The drink does not usually contain alcohol, though there are a few fermented varieties, and bartenders use the syrup in a number of local cocktails. Some people add the syrup to rum for a drink similar to rum and cola. In almost all cases, people drink it chilled to enhance its refreshing qualities.
Making or Purchasing It
Many people prefer to make their own mauby by boiling the bark with spices, while others simply order the syrup over the Internet. In some areas, shoppers can find mauby syrup in Puerto Rican grocery stores, where it is usually called mavi. Visitors to different Caribbean islands often note slight to major differences in taste from one island to another. The people of each island appear to have different preferences regarding flavors they add to the bark in order to produce the best-tasting drink.
Possible Health Benefits
A great deal of lore regarding the health benefits of this tea or sparkling beverage exists, but the jury is still out on just how effective it is. Syrups with high sugar content may cause certain health issues, although the sugar content is usually lower than that of sodas made in the US. Some claim that mauby is an aphrodisiac, while others have asserted that the drink causes impotence.
Other people believe this drink is good for arthritis, reduces cholesterol, and may help fight diabetes. According to the University of the West Indies, mauby, especially when combined with coconut milk, may lower blood pressure. Health benefits beyond this, however, are largely untested and people should consult a healthcare professional before altering or starting any particular medical treatment program.