Make mine mauby
Mauby will adorn many a dinner table this Christmas in the Caribbean.
And there might be a good reason to drink up, particularly for those suffering from high blood pressure.
The drink from the mauby bark is quite popular in many Caribbean countries.
For generations, folk medicine practitioners have claimed all sorts of health benefits of mauby.
Some claim it is an aphrodisiac and that it might help for arthritis, for example.
It was conducted by Trinidad-born Kwame Amin, a student at The City University of New York's Borough of Manhattan Community College.
"Folk remedies are popular there," says Trinidad-born Kwame Amin, a second-semester science major at BMCC.
"If you've got a health issue, people will always say, 'Drink this, eat that.'"
But the findings were consistent with the Trinidad study which was conducted on hypertensive patients.
"There was a distinct lowering of their pulse rate, just as the Trinidadian doctor had reported in humans," Amin says. "Our findings were consistent with his."
Mr Amin's work won him the first prize at this year's Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in the United States.
So what’s mauby?
The drink is made from the bark, and sometimes fruit, of the mauby tree.
Also known as mavi in Puerto Rico, and mabi in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, it is made with sugar and the bark and/or fruit of certain species of the mauby tree, a small tree native to the northern Caribbean and south Florida.
Recipes usually include other spices as well, aniseed being very common.
Often the drink is fermented using a portion of the previous batch, while sometimes it is consumed unfermented.
Mauby is often bought as a pre-made syrup and then mixed with water (sparkling or still) to the consumer's taste, but many still make it themselves at home.
Its taste is initially sweet, somewhat like root beer, but changes to a prolonged but not astringent bitter aftertaste. To many it is an acquired taste.
There are several varieties mauby commercially available in Jamaican, Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.