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Yerba Mate(Ilex Paraguariensis)
Yerba Mate is a shrub native to regions in Uruguay, southern Brazil, northern Argentina, and eastern Paraguay. In this part of the world, Yerba Mate is consumed as part of every day life, much more than coffee or other teas. It is shared among friends for it’s invigorating effect. It has deep cultural roots, and survives as a beacon of friendship, health and culture.
Yerba Mate has an outstanding reputation for promoting good health. There are countless testimonies of it’s health benefits which include: boosting immunity, cleansing and detoxifying the blood, toning the nervous system, restoring hair color, retarding aging, combating fatigue, stimulating the mind, controlling the appetite, reducing the effects of debilitating disease, reducing stress, and eliminating insomnia.
A study by the The Pasteur Institute concluded that “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to Mate in nutritional value. It has most all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”
The Yerba Mate tree, from the Aquifoliacae family, is a widely cultivated medium sized evergreen tree that can grow to 20 metres high in the wild. Commonly when cultivated, it is pruned into a shrubby 4 - 8 metre tall tree.
The Mate shrubs have white or light purple stems producing thick waxy leaves with dented or smooth edges. It’s graceful branches produce an abundance of leaves and white flowers that produce small red, black, or yellow berries. The tough leathery leaves have an enzyme coating that protects the leaf and keeps it’s nutrients locked up inside. This waxy coating must be cracked, by passing the leaf through the flame of a fire, in order to unlock the goodness inside.
Wild Yerba Mate trees grow in the dense subtropic forests marked by tall Parana Pine. The Mate trees grow up to 45 feet tall, with branches and leaves growing atop a long, slender trunk, competing for sunlight. These trees are difficult to harvest, since the pruning must take place high up in the air by skilled workers. The flavour of the wild plants tend to be leafier, and less bitter. Wild Yerba Mate trees may be harvested only once every 3 or 4 years.
Cultivated Yerba Mate trees are more easily managed and harvested. The cultivated trees produce an abundance of leaves that are much more accessible for harvest. They are pruned to spread, growing many branches with a shrub-like appearance. Cultivated Yerba Mate grow about 4 - 5 meters tall, and about the same in diameter.
In the first 4 - 6 years, they are pruned to grow the right shape, but not for harvest, Once they have reached the right size, they are pruned for harvest. Great care is taken during harvest to ensure that no damage is done to the tree. The Yerba Mate plant will recover quickly, growing new shoots ready for another harvest in 2 years. The trees are harvested in rotation so that one area of the plantation is ready for harvest each season. There are two harvest seasons per year, one in February / March, and the other in September.
The yerba mate leaves must first be passed through the flames of a fire. We have developed our own proprietary Cleanheat System® that ensures that the leaves do not come in contact with smoke, and do not receive too much heat for too long. Excess heat and smoke damages the nutritional value of the yerba mate as is the case with traditional wood fire and other systems. Our system ensures that the inner mate leaf stays below 65°C during the entire process. Our proprietary method keeps the yerba mate as green as possible, and with all it’s nutrients and benefits in tact.
Our Cleanheat system also dries the mate leaves in a controlled environment at a low temperature.
The leaves are then cut, sifted and mixed together to produce a blend that will give forth it’s bounty of vitamins, minerals, energy and flavour when it steeps in your cup.
Here is one rendition of the Guarani legend concerning the origin of Yerba Mate...
The Guarani people would plant corn and remain in one location for a number of years, but eventually would have to move on when the soil in that area ceased to support their crops.
It was time for this clan to move, but one very old man did not have the strength to go. He told the clan, including his own children, to go on without him. He preferred to stay and live the rest of his days in the abandoned village. His youngest daughter, however, refused to leave him there alone. She chose to stay with him to take care of her elderly father. The clan moved, the two were left behind. This act of love was deserving of divine attention.
One day, a stranger arrived upon the lonely scene. He asked the woman what he could give her to make her happy. She would not reply, or ask for anything. The elderly father, seeing his daughter’s loneliness, told the man that what he wanted was strength so that he could take his daughter to rejoin their clan.
Their special visitor proceeded to give him a very green plant, yerba mate. He told him how to plant it, and how to pick the leaves and dry them over a fire. He told him how to grind the dry leaves and make an infusion in a hollowed out gourd. He taught him to sip it through a straw made from a reed. He said “In this drink, you will find healthy company, even in the sad hours of cruel solitude.” With these words the stranger went on his way.
The old man was obedient and, as he drank the green yerba mate tea, began to quickly recover and gain new strength. Then he and his daughter undertook the journey to rejoin their clan.
Their friends and family welcomed them with great joy, and they all learned the secret of Yerba Mate. From then on they shared this herb for strength, courage and comfort between friends.
It is not known when the indigenous tribes first infused the pounded Yerba Mate leaves in water using a hollowed out gourd and a reed straw to filter out the leaves. The native Guarani drank the Yerba Mate beverage for it’s energizing and medicinal benefits, and as a social past time. The gourd was passed around the campfire as relatives and friends told stories late into the night. This practice has survived to this day.
Yerba Mate was used as a currency for trade between tribal peoples before the arrival of the Spanish. The Inca, Charrúa and Araucano tribes all drank yerba mate received in trade from the Guarani.
European explorers were introduced to Yerba Mate, as early as 1592, by native Guarani. The Spanish Conquistadors spread the practice of drinking Yerba Mate throughout the region of Rio de la Plata.
The Jesuits were also introduced to the cultivation and culture of Yerba Mate. At first they banned it’s use. After seeing the natives productivity drop without the mate, and seeing the natives increasing inclination towards alcohol, the Jesuits changed their mind. They also saw that when food was short, the natives could live on smaller quantities of food while drinking yerba mate.
The Jesuits went from a ban, into production, as they learned the secrets of cultivation and processing the prized herb. They distributed Yerba Mate between settlements and it became known as “Jesuit Tea.” They learned, from the natives, that the Yerba Mate seed will not germinate unless it passes through the digestive tract of a toucan. Hence, the toucan is now the logo for the Mate Factor Brazilian Green Yerba Mate.
1818 Aimé Bonpland, a French naturalist began the first scientific studies of the cultivation and uses of yerba mate.
1819 The botanist Saint-Hilaire classified the plant as Ilex Paraguariensis.
In the 1920’s, the Argentine government granted parcels of land to colonists arriving from Europe with the condition that the land be partially planted with Yerba Mate.
1936 Argentina created a commission specifically for the purpose of regulating Yerba Mate production. This was implemented because the plantations started in the 1920’s (due to government incentive) were producing much more yerba mate than they could sell. The government decided to prohibit the establishment of new plantations and give production quotas to existing plantations.
1989 The Yerba Mate Regulating Commission was discontinued.
2011 In Argentina, Yerba Mate is the most consumed drink for all ages, second only to tap water. Yerba Mate is still cultivated exclusively in it’s native regions of southern Brazil, northern Argentina and eastern Paraguay. Mate Factor Yerba Mate is the only brand that is community owned and where the workers decide on a fair price for thier labours.
|Why Is Our Yerba Mate Superior ?
Our Mate is picked fresh and shipped directly to us GREEN - not fermented or smoked.
Our friends in Brazil use a special drying meathod that preserves the highest nutritional content possible. Green is for good health!
Our Yerba Mate also supports communities of many families in Brazil. Our business is based on this foundation: the workers set the price, not us. This is more than fair trade. We exsist to support them.
Bonus! - It's CERTIFIED ORGANIC