Contrary to popular belief, the ayahuasca brew is not made of one plant, but several. Recipes and methods of preparation may differ from person to person, but the general idea remains the same. It takes some time and practice to master brewing the complex drink.
Ayahuasca often takes an entire day to be prepared. Some shamans have even been known to simmer it until late at night. The mixture is prepared in a big pot arranged over an open fire, as religious leaders pray over it and meditate upon their intention. The reason for this is simple. Ayahuasca is more than a physical medicine. It is made to heal and to transform the lives of common people.
What are the ingredients put into ayahuasca?
Three main ingredients are put into the ayahuasca brew: the ayahuasca itself, chacruna, and oco yage.
Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi)
Of course, the ayahuasca vine is the main ingredient of the brew. Chacruna and oco yage, however, are considered add-on ingredients that make it more intense.
Some shamans believe that the most powerful ayahuasca teas are made using old vines grown deep in the jungle. They believe that these old vines have powerful medicine that will heal the most. Ayahuasca vines can range anywhere from three to ten inches in diameters. The older vines are usually over six. That being said, the younger, more pliable vines already have relatively potent medicine so you don’t necessarily have to look for the oldest vines to experience the power.
There are two main types of ayahuasca vines: yellow and black. The black vines, called “trueno,” are considered to be more powerful. However, the difference between the two often isn’t noticeable when it is made into a tea.
Chacruna (Psychotria viridis)
The chacruna leaves are the ingredient in ayahuasca that contain DMT, which is a psychedelic that brings forth the trip associated with the drink. The leaves are shredded into fine pieces before being added into the brew.
Oco yagé (Diplopterys cabrerana=Banisteriopsis rusbyana)
Oco yage is also used in leaf form. It is known by quite a few names, including chagropanga and huambisa. Unlike the chacruna leaves, oco yage is pounded into a fine powder before being added into the tea.
How is the tea prepared?
Shamans prepare the brew by first preparing the ingredients. As mentioned earlier, the chacruna leaves are shredded into fine strips while the oco yage leaves are ground into powder. The ayahuasca vine is pounded with a pestle or a heavy object to break it into smaller pieces. Some people prefer to simply chop it into smaller pieces or strips. The ayahuasca vine is then added to a pot of water and simmered for 2 to 3 hours. Sometimes the other ingredients are added as well, but many people choose to simmer then in a different pot and add them together later.
After the mixture has simmered for a few hours, it has to be filtered. A cheesecloth is usually used to strain the liquid and squeeze as much as possible out. The ingredients are then removed from the cheesecloth and put back into the pot. Tea is then brewed again with less water this time. The fluid from the second boil will be thicker. Repeat the entire process two more times.
After all the simmering has been completed, you should have three different sets of tea. Combine them and refrigerate overnight. Strain it once more in the morning to get all the residue out. Your ayahuasca is now ready to be consumed. If the brew has been prepared according to these instructions, a single dose should be anywhere between half a cup to one cup.