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Yerba Mate Overview

The drying process has two steps:

Yerba Mate is a healthy beverage that contains numerous beneficial nutrients including vitamins, minerals, amino-acids, polyphenols, flavonoids and saponins which are ingredients known for their health benefits. Yerba Mate has been consumed for several hundred years in South America and is considered to be a powerfully energizing and rejuvenating beverage. People often call yerba mate an "organic herbal tea", but "herbal" refers only to plants that are not caffeinated, and Yerba Mate contains caffeine. Mate is not a "green tea" either, as "green tea" is the Camellia sinensis plant, and yerba mate is Ilex Paraguariensis plant from South America. They do share some similar qualities in the way they are produced and the way they enhance health in the body. In the wild, the Yerba Mate tree needs about 25 years to develop completely, reaching a height of up to 15 meters. When cultivated, the mate trees are pruned to a height of 3-5 meters to allow for harvesting. The harvesting (or careful pruning) of the leaves and tender stems begins after 3-4 years of age. Harvest takes place annually between May and July in most regions. At maturity, yerba mate has a unique bittersweet flavor. The tree can produce for about 40 years making it a perfect crop when sustainably harvested. Yerba mate contains caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in tea, coffee and chocolate. The caffeine content varies between that of green tea and coffee. Unlike tea, yerba mate has low tannin content so it can be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter. Unlike coffee, yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, so it is less likely to cause stomach acid and jitters. The leaves of the rainforest mate tree naturally contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, abundant antioxidants. In fact, The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 concluded "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value" and that yerba mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life."

Health Benefits of Yerba Mate

•    Increases wellbeing and Happiness
•    Natural Energizer
•    Relaxes the Muscles
•    Loaded with Antioxidants
•    Decreases Stress
•    Improves Sleep
•    Minimizes damage from eating junk food.
•    Lowers Blood Pressure
•    Lowers Bad Cholesterol
•    Fights Colon Cancers
•    Helps with Type II Diabetes
•    Help you Lose Weight
•    Fights Obesity
•    Boosts Creativity
•    Improves Immune System
•    Improves bone density

PROCESSING YERBA MATE

1. Dehydrating the leaves. This process is achieved through fire. It only takes 20 to 30 seconds. This is done to stop the natural oxidation and fermentation process of the plant. If the heat that is used is excessive, the leaves will have a yellow color and would affect the final taste. The proper heat is very important. In this process the leaves lose 20% of their weight. 

 2. Drying the leaves. Traditionally there were two ways of drying – direct, when the heat of the fire goes directly to the leaves, and indirect, when the heat reaches the leaves through a tunnel under the earth, this being actually a smoking process. Both ways used nowadays using gas or wood and modern equipment.

The next process is where the leaves are roughly milled right alter the drying. Afterwards they are put in jute sacks (natural fiber) which are marked with the date and the origin location. This type of yerba is called "CANCHADA". This is the name yerba mate is given when it is grossly crushed right alter the drying process.  It still needs to be processed in the mill.

The next process is where the yerba mate is left to age for a minimum of six months. This is VERY IMPORTANT in order to get a top quality yerba. Organic and small farm producers usually let this process last more than a year, sometimes even two. 

The final step is the milling. Through a sifting process done by specialized machinery the aged yerba is separated from its content of twigs, leaves and sticks or stems. The yerba is then blended in the proper proportions each brand has. Some may have more sticks, leaves or powder than others.

There are two distinct kinds of flavors in yerba mate according to the drying process: smoked and unsmoked. 

On the other hand, we have two types of yerba mate according to its grinding; with or without stems or sticks. Most brands use the variety "with sticks" (con palo). Few brands have the "w/o sticks" (sin palo) version available.

So, basically there are six commercial types of yerba mate:  Elaborada con Palo (w/stems) -  Elaborada sin Palo o Despalada  (w/o stems) - Barbacuб (Smoked) - Tostada (Roasted) -  Flavored & Mixed with Herbs.


WITH STEMS (ELABORADA CON PALO): Is the yerba mate that contains no less than 65% dehydrated ground leaves and no more than 35% of stems. Generally they are mild because of the big percentage of stems or sticks.

WITHOUT STEMS (DESPALILLADA, DESPALADA o SIN PALO): It contains no less than 90% of finely dehydrated leaves and no more than 10% of stems. This type of yerba is stronger due to their larger quantity of leaves and fewer amount of stems. There is no such thing as a yerba completely 100% without stems even though the package says so. There will always be a very small amount that is impossible to be removed during the processing.

SMOKED (BARBACUБ ): these yerba mate have a strong and delicious aroma and a woody taste. Sometimes you may find some yerba mate that claim to be "UNSMOKED". By definition all yerba mate that have not been dried using the barbacuб system are unsmoked.

ROASTED (TOSTADA): When the yerba leaves are roasted they generally have a sweeter flavor and a kind of a "chocolate" after taste.

FLAVORED YERBA MATE:  Yerba mate with different flavors microencapsulated into the tea which sometimes also includes bits of the fruit itself. The flavors are essential oils derived from the fruits.

MIXED WITH HERBS: Yerba mate with different natural herbs mixed into it.