The quest for Belizean tea in Belize City!

Chaya Tea, was the only tea I knew to look for when we got to Belize. I did very mild research on Belizean tea’s to find and Chaya was the only tea to look for. Upon reading, I found that “Chaya is native to Belize – but many Belizeans would not familiar with these plants’.” I was totally sure someone would know; and I was certain Chaya would not be THAT hard to find.

Welcome To Belize
Welcome To Belize

When our plane touched down and we hopped in a cab, the first thing I asked the cab driver was about his familiarity with Chaya Tea. He was unfamiliar with the tea and it could have been because he was not a direct native.

Who knows.

Through various conversations, I had learned, that many of the “black Belizeans” were of Jamaican decent. My expectations for the populous of Belize was completely unbiased. I had no idea what the people would be like and did not know what to expect. The only agenda points, written in pen, were to find the Chaya leaves, tour a Mayan ruin, attend San Pedro’s Lobster Festival, and snorkel; every thing else we improvised.

Being introduced to Belize by our cab driver!
Being introduced to Belize by our cab driver!
Taking a stroll across the Belize City bridge to the water tax terminal.
Taking a stroll across the Belize City bridge to the water taxi terminal.
The Caye Caulker water taxi terminal seemed to have a more local appeal. As we headed out to Ambergris Caye we saw a more “touristy terminal”…the San Pedro water taxi terminal.
The Caye Caulker water taxi terminal seemed to have a more local appeal. We saw a more “touristy terminal” headed out to Ambergris Caye…the San Pedro water taxi terminal.

I read a lot about Belize City being “really dangerous”; and aside from it being the port for our Water Taxi gateway to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye I didn’t know what else the city offered! Belize City had the impoverished, disadvantaged, and down-and-out appeal that I read about – but being a girl from Detroit, I totally understood how media shows all the ugly and never the good.

We spent a couple of days in San Pedro and Placencia before retuning to Belize City. When we landed at the municipal airport at 5:10pm we took a cab to the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina. Being that the Radisson was the best hotel in the area, thank heavens we got our room at a discounted rate – because paying above $150 would have been mad for our hotel room accommodations; as the room rates are at regular $324.

We ventured out into the city near dusk. The boys thought I was inappropriately dressed (in shorts and my super comfy chunky heel) and drew too much attention…essentially, putting them in danger. I thought I was fine. Local cab drivers assured that we were safe because we had “black skin” – and that we had no need to worry.

The locals seemed really nice, though we received plenty stares. As we were walking, a woman commented on how lovely she thought I was and asked if I were a model.

I wasn’t totally intimidated by Belize city and I was on a quest to find my tea! But, considering the lack of businesses that were open, the peculiar loitering, and overhearing a conversation close with “I am not to be f–ked with” we headed back to the hotel for (a very insipid) dinner.

There was so much life in Belize City the next morning. The locals were aware that there would be a cruise ship docking and were strongly soliciting their services and products. They offered to braid my hair, paint my nails, fresh coconut water, carved wood, and, not to mention, my boyfriend was continuously harassed and followed by a gentleman who insisted that we come check out his craftsmanship.

Guy who insisted that we check out his wood & tried to get us to tip him for telling us about a restaurant someone already told us about! Interesting man!
Guy who kept us under his radar, insisted that we check out his shop, & tried to get us to tip him for telling us about a restaurant someone already informed us about. Interesting man!

The night prior we promised a guy we would buy some of his hand-made jewelry.He was a really nice guy AND he knew of the chaya leaf. In the market place there were many jewelers and every last one wanted you to see what they had. We looked, and I wish we could have bought something from everyone – but you just can’t.

In the market place.
In the market place.
Local jewelry maker and very nice Belizean man who gave us a few pointers on where to eat while in Belize City!
Local jewelry maker and very sweet Belizean man who gave us a few pointers on where to eat while in Belize City! Also, was familiar with the chaya leaves. We took this photo as he left to pick up his children from school for lunch.

We ventured through the city for nearly an hour looking for this Chaya leaf tea. The tea seemed as if it were nowhere to be found. I was totally feeling let down. I just could not leave Belize without the tea I KNEW was somewhere around there. We stopped at the city center grocery store to see if the had it. They had one tea grown in Sri Lanka that I never had.

An assortment of teas in the Belize City center grocery store.
An assortment of teas in the Belize City center grocery store.

We were also on the quest for food. A few locals gave us the name of the same restaurant, Marlins. “Great local cuisine, very nice, and off the water” were the descriptions given to us. Though Marlin’s only had Johnny Cakes, eggs, and two meat options (because they were out of bacon) we enjoyed it.

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Our view during breakfast was of a man skinning fish and feeding it to pelicans.  It was very local.

Johnny Cakes, eggs, stewed chicken, and ham!
Johnny Cakes, eggs, stewed chicken, and ham! Not to forget the delicious watermelon juice.

After breakfast, I wanted to make ONE LAST stop to see if I could come across the Chaya Leaf. There was a little Natural Health Tech place at the end of the Belize City Bridge, where they had a variety of herbs shelved. When I asked whether they had the leaf the clerk informed me that he could have it for me the following day. Unfortunately, we were leaving in a couple of hours. He proceeded to tell me he had something way better than the Chaya Leaf. (A-WHA!?) He had an assortment of Belizean grown herbs and roots used for tea. I was thrilled! He sold me the China Root, Provision Tea, and Moringa Leaf. As many times as I Google searched “Belize Tea’s” not one of these came up.

Getting an explanation on the different tea benefits.
Getting an explanation on the different tea benefits.

Buying Tea

My teas!
My teas!

Though I was not able to get the Chaya Leaf for tea I was fine. Belize City was different and I enjoyed it. The tea’s were good. I will be back again, after I am scuba certified and I will get the Chaya (Spinach Leaf) then.

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