What is Stevia?
Stevia is a leafy green shrub-like plant (it’s part of the Asteraceae family and is related to the daisy and ragweed).
There are many different species of stevia (one species is called “candyleaf” and is native to New Mexico, Arizona and Texas). Another species is called Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni (sometimes you’ll see it called Rebiana or Reb A), which is native to Paraguay and Brazil, and that’s the species that typically used to sweeten food.
But, when people ask what is stevia, they’re typically referring to stevia extract that we buy in stores either as a solution or as a fine white powder. You can, however, grow your own stevia plant in certain parts of the world (generally places where it doesn’t get too cold).
History of Stevia
Stevia has been used in South American cultures (like the Guarani Indians) for over 1500 years. In South America it is often known as yerba dulce, and it is used for a variety of purposes including to sweeten local teas and as a medicine.