Six months ago my co-founder Nicolás Estrella and I, Juan Giraldo, went on a road-trip to the southern part of Ecuador. We visited a small village in the middle of the Andes Mountains called Chuquiribamba where we met Don Miguel Tambo, a local independent farmer.
Chuquiribamba Village, Loja Province, Ecuador
Don Miguel introduced us to a traditional herbal infusion known as “el agua que cura,” which translates as “the healing water,” a drink that has been brewed and consumed for centuries in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. It’s delicious! “The healing water” is a refreshing tea-like drink with a fruity and aromatic taste, accented with a hint of lime.
The drink is called “the healing water” because of its healthy properties. This beverage is ubiquitous in this region of the country, as almost everyone there drinks it every day.
“The healing water” traditional brewing process
While this experience was amazing, we were shocked to learn just how difficult the life of an Ecuadorian farmer is. They struggle to make a living by growing the medicinal herbs used in “the healing water,” but they only earn $1.25 a day because they lack the means to get their products out to bigger markets.
This income is simply not enough to sustain their families, so many farmers are being forced to leave the countryside and move to cities to hopefully find better opportunities. If this migration continues, the tradition of cultivating herbs and brewing “the healing water” will disappear.
WanKu’s co-founder Nicolás with Doña María, Don Miguel’s wife
That is why we started WanKu. We believe that “the healing water” is something that should be shared with the world, and by creating a fair-trade value chain around its ingredients, we can help Ecuadorian farmers improve their income, thereby helping to preserve their traditions.
We asked Don Miguel to teach us how to prepare “the healing water,” and told him our idea of sharing this tradition with the world, and the positive impact this could have for him and the community of Chuquiribamba.
Don Miguel was more than happy to share his recipe with us, because he told us that he and everyone in his community are hard working people that only want better opportunities. He said that he would be thrilled to become our first supplier of the medicinal herbs required to produce “the healing water.”
So, we developed WanKu based on the traditional “healing water” recipe, with little tweaks in the amount of sugar to make it even healthier. Our ingredients are organic, non-GMO, and sourced directly from independent Ecuadorian farmers at fair trade prices.
WanKu, an Andean herbal infusion drink
WanKu’s ingredients are water, organic lime flavor, organic sugar cane (11 g per 16 fl oz bottle), organic stevia, and a blend of more than 20 herbs and flowers:
• Lemongrass • Escancel • Mix of Flowers (Rose, Violet & Carnation) • Mint • White Malva • Chamomile • Red Root Amaranth • Lemon Balms • Peppermint • Lemon Verbena • White Basil • Black Basil • Linseed • Fennel • Malva Essence • Sweet Oregano • Starflowers • Malva Olorosa • Congona • Burnet
“The healing water” has been revered for centuries in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador for having great digestive and anti-stress properties. 15 of the plants used for WanKu have analgesic properties, 13 help the digestive system, 12 are anti-inflammatory, and 10 can help with stomachaches. This is why WanKu is great for your gut health - drinking it will naturally soothe your body and will help your digestive system.
Now we need your help to bring “the healing water” to the US!
With your support, we are going to bring the first shipment of medicinal herbs from Ecuador to the US so we can make our inaugural production run of WanKu in Boston, Massachusetts.
Reaching our funding goals will get the ball rolling for WanKu because this production will help us obtain market validation, and leverage it to secure future distribution. But most importantly, together we can start making a real and positive difference in the lives of independent Ecuadorian farmers like Don Miguel, and help preserve this amazing tradition!
“WanKu” means together.
WanKu [Wuan-Koo] is a Quechua word that means “together.” Fittingly, we are working “together” with independent Ecuadorian farmers to help them improve their quality of life through a drink that has more than 20 herbs and flowers blended “together.”
WanKu in a nutshell