Yerba Mate cultivation has had a long history of evolution from its discovery by the indigenous cultures to commercial cultivation. Plantations grew rapidly with the arrival of the Spanish to South America, instituted to support growing local demand and exports. Among other cash crops like cocoa and coffee, mate was more difficult to domesticate and was harvested naturally in many accounts until modern farming methods were developed in the 19th century.
Yerba Mate grows best in subtropical jungle climates and is primarily cultivated in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It is made from the leaves and stems of the Ilex Paraguariensis, a small shrub which grows into a tree reaching 15-20 meters. It is recognizable by its dark green holly-like leaves, white flowers, and small red fruit produced on its branches. Harvested by machine or by hand, the leaves are then processed for consumption. Over time methods of processing have varied widely using different methods for drying and curing the leaves and stems. The traditional method for drying often involves the use of fire and smoke to dry the leaves. The drying process varies and different methods often result in different flavor profiles for the Mate.
At Yerbana, our mate is cultivated on an Organic and Fair-Trade family farm in Misiones, Argentina. The family farm is committed to ecological farming, planting thousands of native trees within the yerba mate groves to create shade, stabilize soil, and promote biodiversity while leaving dense corridors of native forest intact.