Native history (old world history)
Native to South America, stevia leaves are consumed for than 1500 years by the Guarani people, who called this sweetener as Ka’he ( it means sweet herbs). The sweetening “Ka’he” have been used traditionally for centuries both in Brazil and Paraguay to sweeten up teas medicines as a sweet substances. The Guarani had also known the unique features and benefits of stevia leaves for centuries before it was discovered by the old world invaders. A vast chronicle of the use of stevia leaves are preserved in the Paraguayan National Archives in Asuncion. After discovering the use stevia leaves, it was introduced to the settlers. By the 1880’s, people started consuming stevia leaves on a daily basis throughout Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.
New world history
Paraguayan chemist Petrus Jacobus Steve’s, who first discovered the stevia leaves and became the first to extract the plant’s sweet constituent and he named the plant as “rebaudiana”. After him, in 1887 Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, director of college of agriculture in Asuncion. He discovered this as “a strange plant” from the Indian guides Indian guides while exploring Paraguay’s eastern forests in 1887. After a years of research, bertoni, discovered the native of stevia plant as South America. He subsequently announced his discovery of the “new species” in a botanical journal published in Asuncion.
Bertoni named it as “stevia” and wrote, “One is surprised at the strange and extreme sweetness contained therein. A fragment of the leaf only a few square millimeters in size suffices to keep the mouth sweet for an hour; a few small leaves are sufficient to sweeten a strong cup of coffee or tea.”
In the late 19th century stevia leaves have come to use for commercial purpose. The popular commercial drinks like coca cola removed the artificial sweeteners and adopted stevia as a sweetener. Later, stevia leaves have been widely used in japan and Japanese produced commercial sweeteners and soft drinks made of stevia. Currently japan consumes more stevia than any other country, with stevia accounting for 40% of the sweetener market.
In mid-1980 stevia sweetener became popular in USA and started to consume it widely due to its health benefits and weight loss substances.