Ask any person born and bred in the Caribbean to mention a popular drink and the word Mauby eases its way out of the mouth quickly with so much excitement and nostalgia. For many years, the local drink has served as a number one choice for people and has been ceremoniously passed on from generation to generation.
Today, Mauby has become a commercially made drink in countries like Trinidad and Tobago and exported to buyers all over the world. Many still prefer the local way of making the drink which comes with a tradition that they have come to enjoy.
To enjoy the drink more, it is best you make it yourself, but the question is what really is the Mauby drink and why is there so much fuss about it?
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First, it is known as Mauby in a greater part of the Caribbean, however, in Puerto Rico, it is known as Mavi and as Mabi in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is made from tree bark, specifically, the behuco Indio which has become known as the Mauby tree. The tree bark is the most important ingredient with sugar and different spices usually added at one’s discretion.
To make the drink, the bark of the tree is cut and cleaned in such a way that it retains its original scent and flavour which gives the drink its unique smell and bittersweet taste. The bark is then dried in the sun until it is well dried. Orange peels are also dried which will be added to the bark when boiled. Other basic ingredients include cloves and cinnamon, however, others add nutmeg or vanilla essence. The mauby tree bark is boiled in water with the orange peels together with the other spices. While others drink it as it is, others, especially people in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, love to have the drink fermented.
The drink is a true Caribbean original that traces as far back as the first black settlers on the island. Originally made from sweet potatoes, the Mauby bark was a better substitute thanks to its availability. The drink originally served as a bitter syrup served to make people stronger and feel better especially during the enslavement years. The drink was served with ice to cool down body temperatures and stop a fever from developing.
It did not take long for people to spice the drink up by diluting the bitter syrup with water and adding sugar to make it the most popular homemade drink in the Caribbean today.
The drink became so popular that by the 1900s, there were sellers who were known as Mauby women walking the streets selling the drink in pots on their heads. The mauby women either sold it fermented or regular and people of all ages rushed to buy from them.
In 2009, reports claimed the drink could cure high blood pressure after research was conducted by a Trinidadian student of the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College, Kwame Amin, who researched into the health benefits of the drink.
When you visit the Caribbean, you might have to taste the Mauby or better still, engage in the quick but fun experience of making the drink.