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Guayakí Yerba Mate - A Powerful Rainforest Experience

Buzz in the Press
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Buzz in the Press

Buzz in the Press

Guayakí Maté
Yerba Maté For The 21st Century

CAPSULE REPORT: One of the original “energy beverages,” yerba maté is drunk in parts of South America the way some Americans drink coffee: continuously, for vitality, clarity and well-being. Friends get together to share a cup—they sip from a common gourd, shown in the photo at the left. Unlike coffee or tea, however, maté is nutritious, chock-full of vitamins and minerals. It just could be the next beverage trend in the U.S. With a line of bottled drinks plus maté in bags and loose to brew hot, this healthy, calorie-free, energy-giving beverage is waiting to be discovered by the population at large. As with tea, not all matés are the same: There are different types of roasts, the lighter ones having more appeal to the American palate. The Guayakí Maté line is delicious, organic, fair traded and kosher, too.

Yerba maté, or maté for short (yerba is a variation of hierba, “herb” in Spanish) is a fascinating beverage, made from the leaves of the maté shrub (Ilex paraguariensis), a member of the holly family that grows in the South American rainforest. Like our common holly bush, the small clusters of tiny red berries grow close to where the leaves join the stems; but it is the green, serrated leaf that holds the “magical” properties.

For centuries, the indigenous Guaraní peoples have steeped the leaves of the shrub into a restorative tea. They regard it as “the drink of the gods”: The goddess Yari showed the Guaraní the health and restorative properties of maté (in another area of Latin America, the god Quetzalcoatl brought the seeds of the cocoa tree from the Garden of Life and gave them to the Aztecs). Today, the Guaraní blend maté with medicinal herbs to enhance the healing benefits. The value of maté has been validated: In 1964 The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific Society concluded that “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to maté in nutritional value,” and that maté contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”

Guayakí Maté (pronounced gwy-uh-KEE), a leader among U.S. producers, is a socially responsible company committed to reforestation and providing income for indigenous peoples. Their operation has been named one of the best examples of medium-scale sustainable agriculture in South America. The business name honors the Aché Guayakí people who have long inhabited the sub-tropical rainforests of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, home of the yerba maté bush. Having had their lands taken from them and forced into reduced circumstances, they now can earn a living wage cultivating maté in an environment like their ancestral home. Fair Trade certification means that in addition to a good wage, there are safe working conditions and no forced child labor so that the children can go to school.

Maté is traditionally brewed by pouring hot  water over the dried, aged loose leaves, in
a hollow gourd that can be plain or highly embellished with silver and semiprecious stones. Photo by Gonzalo Haro.  Located in one of the top five biodiversity “hot spots” in the world, the 20,000 acre Guayakí Rainforest Preserve in Paraguay is home to more than 330 bird and mammal species. Guayakí’s maté is shade-grown, an important difference. All yerba maté originally grew wild underneath the rainforest canopy. Today, much of it is grown commercially on sun plantations for maximum yield. Like coffee, shade-grown maté produces the most flavorful, highest quality product.

About Maté

Maté leaves (pronounced MAH-tay) contain 24 vitamins and minerals*, 15 amino acids and abundant antioxidants, more than in green tea. Of the six dietary plant-based stimulants in the world—cacao (the bean from which cocoa and chocolate are made), coffee, guaraná, the kola nut (which makes cola drinks), maté and tea—maté is the most balanced stimulant, delivering both nutrition and energy, via a unique combination of the stimulants caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. When brewed, the leaves provide the healthiest source of stimulation on the planet—not just a powerful rejuvenator but a nourishing, green source of energy.

*VITAMINS: A, C, E, B1, B2, niacin (B3), B5, B6, B complex, biotin, choline and inositol. MINERALS: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, sulfur and zinc. PLUS: 15 amino acids, antioxidants, chlorophyll, fatty acids, flavanols, polyphenols and trace minerals.

As a healthy, nutritious and natural “energy drink” (it has more caffeine than Red Bull, with a counter-balance against caffeine jitters), maté is ready to break out as the next “hot” beverage. Beloved in South America, where it is drunk daily by millions of people, it is awaiting discovery by the rest of the world.

Today, more than 300,000 tons of yerba maté are cultivated yearly in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Maté leaves are processed somewhat like tea leaves. The tips of the branches are cut just before the leaves reach full growth and the leaves are either steamed and dried or fired (dried over fire, the original method, which produces a smoky flavor with bitter notes, and is also called smoked maté). The leaves are then aged to enhance the flavor of the maté, which has an earthy flavor that can be made “roasty” buy the processing.

The flavor can vary widely depending on the processing. One NIBBLE staff member who has been drinking maté for years as a health drink, purchases a smoke-dried maté that tastes to us like heavy-roasted barley tea—a flavor profile that most likely would be a tough sell here (often served at Korean restaurants, barley tea has not exactly taken off in the U.S.). Guayakí Maté has taken the traditional maté flavor and adapted it to American palates, via laborious processing and a line of flavored matés. Depending on how the leaves are processed, the brew can vary from shades of yellow and green, similar to green tea, to a reddish-brown that can be mistaken for a black tea (Guayakí Maté falls into this category).

Hot Maté “Teas”

The leaves and stems of maté brew into a tea-like beverage. Guayakí Maté serves up tea bags in a variety of flavors, so that drinking maté never gets dull.

Guayakí Maté  is an artisan product, like a fine wine. There’s a reason we never liked maté before, but responded so positively to this line. The company uses both the leaves and the sweet, tender stems to achieve a unique flavor. After harvesting, they are blended

To broaden the appeal even more, the maté is available in six popular flavors. Although the label indicates that stevia is included, no sweetness is apparent. Our comments reflect drinking the tea straight—no milk or sugar except as noted. Argentineans drink maté with sugar or honey; the majority of South America drink it plain. Your preference will likely depend on how you enjoy drinking coffee or tea: Feel free to add milk or lemon.

Maté is also a conveniece food: You don’t need boiling water. In fact, it should be steeped in hot, not boiling, water, and will steep equally well in cold water. You can just shake a tea bag in a bottle of cold water if you don’t have the patience for steeping.

Chai Spice Maté: Maté plus chai spices, delivers chai on the nose and maté on the palate. When we added sweetener, it brought out the chai spices on the palate: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and licorice. There’s also a Chai Maté Latté concentrate to be mixed with milk and served hot and cold. which we didn’t try, but when we added milk to the Chai Spice Maté, we enjoyed a latté effect.

Greener Green Tea Maté: A blend of maté (the primary ingredient), green tea and lemongrass, this tastes closest to Traditional Maté. The lemongrass isn’t heightened.
Magical Mint Maté: A blend of maté with peppermint and spearmint, this brew tastes just like regular mint tea. A favorite.

Maté Chocolatté: A blend of maté, cocoa and spices, there’s only the barest suggestion of cocoa. While we love the name, the flavor doesn’t deliver—even after we added milk and sugar.
Orange Blossom Maté: A blend of maté, orange and lemon peels, rose hips and cinnamon produces a lovely, feminine orange flavor combined with a masculine roasty maté flavor. Interesting...and good.

Red Tea With Maté: The strong flavor of rooibos (Afrikaans for “red bush,” which has become known as “red tea”) will please lovers of red tea. The blend also contains some honeybush, another African herbal tea that is similar to rooibos. South Africans generally drink rooibos with milk and sugar; we thought this blend was delicious straight.
Traditional Maté: The best-seller, available in bags or loose leaf. It has a light tobacco nose and a lightly roasted flavor with notes of tobacco and citrus. Ponder hard enough and you might find some chocolate and coffee.

If you want your maté to taste like coffee, there’s Java Maté. We didn’t taste it, but the blend of roasted ramon nut and yerba maté promises to taste just like coffee with the gentleness of maté. Dark Roast, Mocha Maca and Vanilla Nut. If you’ve had to give up coffee, give it a try. In loose leaf bags.

Cold Mate Beverages

For cold refreshment, think about grabbing a bottle of maté. Each bottle of Guayakí Organic Yerba Maté contains caffeine levels comparable to a cup of coffee; however, the caffeine stimulation is balanced by maté’s theobromines and theophyllines, which provide a feeling of general well-being and don’t generate a “caffeined,” hyped-up feeling.

The original three flavors, brewed with purified water and sweetened with organic can juice, include:

Empowermint: Blended with fresh mint.

Raspberry Revolution: Blended with raspberry juice and cranberry juice with some rose hips and hibiscus.

Traditional Maté: Available unsweetened as well as sweetened.

The company recently introduced Organic Yerba Maté Fusions, which combine maté with potent herbs from around the world to achieve “special effects” functional foods.

Pure Endurance: A citrus stamina blend, combining maté  with Siberian ginseng, a stamina herb; electrolytes for energy including Himalayan crystal salt from Pakistan; tangerine and acerola juices.

Cold maté beverages are available in an explosion of flavors.

Pure Mind: For more clarity, maté is blended with gingko biloba from China, which improves blood circulation in the brain, veins and arteries; tulsi (holy basil) from India, which improves vitality and lowers blood pressure; antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice; and accents of spearmint and peppermint.

Pure Passion: Developed as a kundalini‡ blend with damiana leaf from Central America, catuaba bark from Brazil and passion fruit juice and a bit of peach and hibiscus flavor. While damiana boosts mental and physical capacity and catuaba is calming and anti-viral, both are considered aphrodisiacs.

‡According to Hindu teachings, kundalini is a type of corporeal energy, a potential form of life force lying dormant in our bodies. The word is Sanskrit for “coiled up” or “coiling like a snake.” There is a school of yoga devoted to concentrating on the chakras, psychic centers in the body, in order to generate a spiritual power, which is known as kundalini energy.

ORAC  & Caffeine Values Of Mate

ORAC. The Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity assay, ORAC, is a method for measuring the phytochemical level (antioxidant value) of foods, i.e. its ability to scavenge free radicals. As a frame of reference, blueberries score 2,400 units per 3.5-ounce serving (100 grams), prunes have 5,770 units per 3.5 ounces, Montmorency cherry juice has 5,286 per 8-ounce glass, milk chocolate has 6,740 units per 3.5 ounces and dark chocolate has 13,120 units.

Caffeine. Most of the Guayakí Maté products overlap in caffeine content with brewed and drip coffee.

Health Benefits Of Mate

The medical community is increasingly interested in the benefits of maté. While claims have not been evaluated by the FDA, medical studies are referenced on the Guayakí.com website that discuss how it aids:

Energy: Induces mental clarity, sustains energy levels/reduces fatigue, boosts the immune system

Medical Conditions: Helps relieve allergies, aids in weight control, aids in elimination, helps in treatment of diabetes, inhibits lipid peroxidation, fights halitosis (bad breath)

All this and it tastes good, too? Try it and see for yourself.

Guayaki Mate

Yerba Maté Beverages in Bottles, Loose Tea and Tea Bags

Certified Kosher by KSA
USDA Certified Organic
Fair Trade Federation

Bottled Maté
  • 16-Ounce Glass Bottles
  • Case Of 12
  • Assorted Flavor Options
  • $39.99 (Shipping Included)
  • Java Maté
  • 7-Ounce Package
  • $8.95
  • Maté Latté Concentrate
  • $4.99
  • Rainforest Rainbow Pack
  • All 6 Flavor Blends
  • 16 Bags/Box
  • $33.99
  • Individual Flavors
  • $6.95

Purchase online at Guayakí.com Or telephone 1.888.482.9254 (888.GUAYAKI)

Free shipping on orders over $50.


Also available at fine food markets and grocery stores nationwide.

Prices and flavor availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.