Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Guarana or Guaranį (pronounced gwa-ra-'naa), Paullinia cupana, is a shrub or small tree in the Sapindaceae, native to Venezuela and northern Brazil, known for the high caffeine content of the fruit. The name 'Guaranį' comes from the Guarani tribe that lives in Brazil. Guaranį plays a very important role in their culture, as this plant is believed to be magical, a cure for bowel complaints and a way to regain strength. They also tell the myth of a 'Divine Child', that was killed by a serpent and whose eyes gave birth to this plant.
The Guaranį plant contains caffeine, and so acts as a stimulant. Like many other caffeine-containing plants, it is used for drinks; a kind of carbonated soft drink that is made from the Guaranį berry is known as "Guaranį". There are a number of different brands of commercial Guaranį drinks available, such as Guaranį Antarctica or Guaranį Kuat, it can also be found in the US under the brand Bawls. However, many commercial brands of Guarana outside of South America are of very low quality in comparison with South American brands of Guarana; many of them tasting nothing like traditional Guarana. It would do a wise consumer well to purchase a South American brand of Guarana, preferably of Brazilian origin. All these drinks are fizzy and sweet, and with a taste compared by some to bubble gum or root beer, with a very fruity aftertaste. Most Guaranį is produced in Brazil and consumed either in Brazil or in nearby countries, such as Paraguay. There are a number of other drinks containing the Guarana berry available for purchase worldwide. Most of them are not called Guarana, and do not taste like the Guarana drinks mentioned above. Some people see guarana as an aphrodisiac.
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