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MAVI or MABI? Is the same, take your pick...

Mavi puertorriqueno

Mabi Puertorriqueno

As far as we all know, mabi is a Taino word, 100% Puertorriqueno. The Taino language came from South America inherited from the Arawac Indians. We all think of Mabi as a gift from the Tainos. It is a delicious, refreshing fermented beverage made out from the bark of the Mabi tree. But, what else do we know about its mysterious drink?

The Mabi tree is also known as mabetree, soldierwood or seaside buckthorn. It’s scientific name is Colubrina elliptica (L'Her.) Brongn. It belongs to the Rhamnaceae or buckthorn family and can be found all the way from Southern Florida, including the Keys, Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Lesser Antilles south to St. Vincent, southern Mexico (Veracruz and Yucatan) and Guatemala.

It economic uses are : wood used for poles or posts. Bark (rich in glucosides) or trunk exudate, leaves used for home medicine. Bark also eaten or used to make beverage. Medicinal uses include preparations to relief diarrhea and dysentery.

This is an in depth view of the mabi tree.
Description of the tree.
Habit: Shrub to 5m.
Leaf Arrangement: alternate or spiral
Leaf Type: simple
Leaf Or Leaflet Shape: elliptic
Leaf Apex: short-pointed
Leaf Base: rounded
Leaf Margin: entire
Leaf Venation: arcuate
Leaf Aromatic: not distinctly aromatic (might have leafy smell)
Leaf Glands: dot glands and/or gland-like scales on both surfaces
Petiole: short with glands
Leaf Pubescence: slightly hairy on lower surface
Leaves: Alternate, simple, thin, elliptic, short-pointed apex, rounded base, veins curved and prolonged near margins, twigs hairy brown.
Bark Color: brown
Bark Texture: smooth fissured
Bark Or Wood Aromatic: no (not distinctly aromatic)
Trunk: Bark orange-brown, smooth to fissured; inner bark light brown; wood light to dark brown, hard, heavy, durable.
Flower Color: green-or-greenish
Flower Or Inflorescence Type: in few-flowered lateral or axillary clusters
Flower Aromatic: no (not distinctly aromatic)
Flowers: Greenish in stalkless clusters at leaf base.
Fruit Or Cones: Round, reddish brown seed capsule, cup-like base.
Can be found: Thickets and woodlands, dry coastal region, dry limestone region (Puerto Rico)

Why make mabi?

When I make and drink mabi, I feel an extra pride knowing that what I do, still keep my ties and roots to that small, beautiful Island call "Oubao Moin", Puerto Rico

Things to do with mabi:
Drink it in a hot summer day while swinging from your hamaca.
Share it with friends while playing dominoes.
Maintain the Spanish language in your household.
Read to your children Puertorrican clasicc books like Terrazo, La Carreta or Cuentos de Juan Bobo.

Feel proud about your heritage!

If you want detailed instructions on making mavi at home, get my new booklet "MAKING MAVI PUERTORRIQUENO, THE EASY WAY"

Go to the "WHAT's NEW" section for more information on the e-booklet. Or go to my library at.


e-mail for mavi info:



How mabi is made (the drink)
The mabi bark is taken from the tree, then is boiled to obtain its flavor. Brown sugar is added and then a portion of a previously made mabi is added. This is called "el pie". You want to select a good "pie" to obtain the right yeast. Then the mix is let to ferment for two or three days and guess what, then you have mabi.
There is no other drink like this, often called by many "the puertorrican champagne"


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