Kola nut (Cola) is a genus of about 125 species of trees native to the tropical rainforests of Africa, classified in the family Malvaceae. It is related to the South American genus Theobroma (Cacao). They are evergreen trees, growing to 20 m tall, with glossy ovoid leaves up to 30 cm long.
The kola nut has a bitter flavour and contains caffeine. It is chewed in many West African cultures, individually or in a group setting. It is often used ceremonially, presented to tribal chiefs or presented to guests. It is preferred among West African Muslims, who are forbidden to drink alcohol. Chewing kola nut can ease hunger pangs. Frequent chewing of the kola nut can also lead to stained teeth. Among the urban youth of West Africa, kola nut is becoming less popular.
Kola was used to make cola soft drinks, though today most of these mass produced beverages use artificial flavourings. Some exceptions are Barr's Red Kola, Red Bull's new Simply Cola, Harboe Original Taste Cola, Foxon Park Kola, Blue Sky Organic Cola, Whole Foods Market 365 Cola, Sprecher's Puma Kola, Virgil's Real Cola, and Cricket Cola, the latter being made from kola nuts and green tea. In 2007, United Kingdom supermarket Tesco introduced an American Premium Cola that uses kola nuts, spices and vanilla.