Taste of the Caribbean: Mauby
Anyone who’s known me for any small amount of time knows I have a terrible memory. As a result of my wretched powers of recall, I can’t always remember specifics of my childhood growing up on St. Croix with Trini parents. Instead, familiar smells and especially tastes are what usually help me relive those lost years.
One such taste, unique to the Caribbean, is mauby—an island beverage made by boiling a specific buckthorn bark, Colubrina elliptica, with sugar and a variety of spices. The thing about mauby is that it’s not for everyone. I’m not saying it’s as odd a taste as Marmite or anything. No, mauby starts out very similar in taste to root beer, but just when you think you’re done, it turns on you becoming very bitter. I can’t tell you why I love it (and you very well may, too), but you just have to try it. Knowing that the bitterness is coming may actually make your first taste more enjoyable!
You can get mauby on many islands but true to the eclectic nature of each individual island it may taste slightly different and even have a slightly different name like mabi, maby, or mavi. For an easy fix, you can “cool yourself” with the made in Trinidad Mauby Fizzz (and even Diet Mauby Fizzz) in many island groceries or just order a batch online. If you really want to try making it yourself, check out this recipe at tasteslikehome.org.
Like most beverages in the Caribbean, it’s supposed to have all sorts of therapeutic uses. Some say it’s great for high blood pressure. Others claim it to be an aphrodisiac. Still other purported uses are for relieving arthritis, reducing cholesterol, treating diarrhea, and supposedly fighting diabetes (which I don’t buy at all considering the amount of sugar in each glass).
Whatever health benefits it may have, you really can’t go wrong and if you do love it, try joining the Facebook page dedicated to mauby drinkers!