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What is Mauby?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

Syrup Form

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.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon999590 — On Feb 08, 2018

For the mauby made in Guyana, my mom used to add a bit of yeast and brew by hand hope it helps or she would use stale mauby if she had it instead of the yeast and leave it overnight.

By anon998034 — On Apr 03, 2017

I live in the USA, but my Ma was from Barbados and I love Mauby and Jerk seasoning; they are both the best tasting. I also love sweet hard bread.

By anon980112 — On Dec 02, 2014

Is it safe to drink Mauby while pregnant?

By anon943150 — On Mar 31, 2014

I just began drinking it today. I will post a comment here in two weeks with my observations on myself from drinking this drink. I hope my observations will lend credence to those who claimed that it works well on the skin. Talk to you soon.

By anon351616 — On Oct 15, 2013

I am a Colombian. I tried it in Trinidad and Tobago and loved it. I recently went back and brought some for my family, and they love it, too. Most of them say it tastes like a sparkling beverage.

I got the concentrated kind at the supermarket and the natural spices at the market. We're still drinking the concentrated kind.

Mauby was my favorite refreshing drink in Trinidad.

By anon345401 — On Aug 19, 2013

Is there a bark in the Caribbean for arthritis suffers? We are suffering and our country cannot afford the diagnosis, surgery, and after care.

By anon339451 — On Jun 23, 2013

Does anyone know how far apart mavi trees should be placed while planting?

By anon337802 — On Jun 08, 2013

I am a Trini by birth, and mauby cleans the blood. For those with skin issues, drink one glass a day and see the difference.

By anon323695 — On Mar 06, 2013

I got my mother-in-law's recipe and made it. I boiled the dried mauby bark with cinnamon sticks, cloves and some dried orange peel. Let it sit overnight in the pot it was boiled in. Next day, strain it, add water and sweeten with "simple syrup" to your taste. Serve chilled over ice if desired. Yummy!

By anon281950 — On Jul 26, 2012

My mom sends me mavi bark from P.R. I drink it for health reasons and for the taste.

By anon273632 — On Jun 07, 2012

Is the recipe for Mauby in Trinidad different than St. Kitts? As a child, we always had mauby in the fridge. I went to a Trinidad restaurant recently and it was really different. It was kind of green and very bitter.

By anon266796 — On May 07, 2012

I was pregnant and was told I had diabetes. I started to take insulin, and after one week I got frustrated and stopped. I found some mauby bark in my cupboard, boiled it and added some club soda and ice (no sugar) and started to drink with every meal, It's been three days already and my blood sugar is under control.

By anon256539 — On Mar 22, 2012

I migrated from Trinidad 17 years ago but always have mauby in my kitchen. I purchase the bark whenever I go home to Trinidad so I will never run out.

I am glad I found this site because I never knew it was good for high blood pressure, for which I have to take medication. So you know I will now be drinking my mauby very much more regularly.

By anon218985 — On Oct 01, 2011

I actually have a cup of Mavi now. I remember always loving it since I was little. I was never a fan of the smell though. Its an off putting smell to anyone who hasn't had it yet.

By anon201407 — On Jul 30, 2011

Fresh Mauby/Mavi bark is available online.

By anon192175 — On Jun 30, 2011

wonderful and refreshing drink! I love it! Hoping to also gain some health benefits from it in time.

By anon188455 — On Jun 20, 2011

mauby is a very good drink. i am forty four years of age and i have been drinking mauby since my childhood. i love it.

By anon170222 — On Apr 25, 2011

I am from St Kitts in the West Indies and I cannot get enough of mauby. It's a cool and refreshing drink, as a matter of fact I have a bottle sitting right next to me as I write (April). No Caribbean visit would be complete without Mauby. D.D.

By anon161255 — On Mar 18, 2011

Mauby is amazingly quenching for hot tropical days and is so well priced in the Caribbean!

By anon147195 — On Jan 28, 2011

Can anyone explain: how does a fermented mavi drink not fall under alcoholic beverage category-laws and regulations etc.? It usually does have a small amount of alcohol.

If I made Mavi and shared it with my children, will their school teachers call the police on me?

By anon129996 — On Nov 26, 2010

I love the stuff, I have been using it now for over two weeks and I can't seem to be able to do without it. My blood pressure is a bit high so I am hoping it will lower it. One thing I know, I will never stop drinking it.

By anon124102 — On Nov 04, 2010

Mauby ferments when you mix stale concentrated unsweetened with freshly boiled concentrated unsweetened bark. Swizzle right before serving. (Do we still have swizzle sticks)?

By anon120897 — On Oct 22, 2010

I'm from Haiti and mauby is very popular and we do use it to control diabetes and High blood pressure. It's even better we you drink it chilled. Go mauby. (Ricky)

By anon113818 — On Sep 26, 2010

in Antigua we drink this a lot. it's very good for high blood pressure. come to antigua and get some at a low price.

By anon109790 — On Sep 09, 2010

I visited Grenada recently. I drank Mauby daily for the two weeks I was there, and I also brought some back to the UK with me. I also found out that I can get it to buy here.

I fill a jug of water and Mauby and keep it in the fridge and that's my daily drink, no sugar. I also suffer from high blood pressure, and I hope it will do me some good.

By anon90404 — On Jun 15, 2010

OK, where do I purchase this bottled form of Mauby syrup?

By anon90056 — On Jun 14, 2010

To further explain. Caribbean locals most often use the bark to make the drink at home. Within recent years as with most food, the ready made syrup was invented for purchase to make things more convenient. Instead of boiling, which is the tradition and can be done as stated with spices. The syrup now purchased in bottle form, and all you need to do is add cold water.

By sotomw55 — On May 17, 2010

Where am I able to purchase this Mauby syrup?

By anon75644 — On Apr 07, 2010

From Grenada -we boil the mauby bark with cinnamon, bay leaf and a little cloves.

By anon74466 — On Apr 02, 2010

mauby is a nice drink. it is good for cleaning your blood after every meal.

By anon69037 — On Mar 05, 2010

Since I started drinking mauby bark with the home style version which includes mauby bark and cloves with star apple, my blood sugar has been under control. it has been within its normal range. I stopped taking my medications. It really works for me. It's best taken without any sugar added. Try it.

By anon55084 — On Dec 04, 2009

I am from Barbados West Indies. Mauby is a daily drink for us -- all ages. It is made with cinnamon sticks, anise, (angostura bitters optional) and sugar to taste, water and lots of ice. It's most refreshing.

I am 70 years old and still drinking it. I have an excellent blood pressure and my blood sugar is under control. JH

By anon33503 — On Jun 07, 2009

What makes guyana style mauby forment, I have tried all the different recipe and still cannot get the real guyanes taste.

Any suggestions?

By anon32676 — On May 25, 2009

The syrup doesn't taste the same as fresh homemade mauby. Better off going to the islands or have someone make it [from scratch] for you.

By anon32675 — On May 25, 2009

My family is Trinidadian. Maubi is great. It is said that it is good for skin. I usually add a little water to dilute the sweet and bitter taste.

By anon25856 — On Feb 04, 2009

Uh, is it true that it fights diabetes?

By anon20117 — On Oct 26, 2008

I'm not so sure the description "bitter aftertaste" best describes mauby drink - I find the taste leaves the palate rather quickly and is thus quite clean of aftertaste, and as well I believe mauby's unique flavor is more of an astringent quality of the bark.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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