The True Original Yerba Mate January 20 2015, 0 Comments

In March 2014, Jovi from Yerba Mate South Africa set out to find the best yerba mate in South America for the South African public to enjoy. On the journey Jovi met founder of Meta Mate (Germany), Fabricio Do Canto at the South American Yerba Mate Conference of 2014. Fabricio made a pact to take Jovi deep into the country-side where the yerba mate trees still grow to enormous size and show him how Meta Mate makes their "best yerba" for export to Germany and the world...

Meta Mate's Process

The Harvest is done by community locals from wild yerba mate trees that occur naturally in the rain forest. The trees get harvested with respect, and care is taken to select the most mature nutrient rich leaves.

The "Sapeco" is necessary to stop the natural fermentation of the leaf after harvest. A branch is waved over open flame for 20-30 seconds to achieve this. This is also done by hand.

The "Carijo" is a hand-made grill upon which bunches of yerba mate are placed about 1m above live coals where the leaves are carefully watched for up to two days while they dry.

The "Soque" is a specialized mill which pounds dry yerba mate leaves into a finer coarseness for drinking in the gourd. Meta Mate's Soque is hydro-powered by a nearby stream.

The Yerba

(1) Meta Mate True Original (Moida Grossa) has the typical characteristics of a flavourful home-made yerba. The colour is charred-green from the slow drying over coals. The brown shell of the stems are still intact due to lower temperatures used to dry the yerba. The aroma is of caramel in the rainforest and it has a subtle intensity profile with wooded green taste and a pleasant dried banana and mango after-taste. 

(2) Unaged Green Yerba Mate is also from Meta Mate in fact. This yerba is industrially dried at higher temperatures in order to maintain the brighter green colour which is visible above. The yerba get vaccum packed immediately after drying preventing it from turning yellow as in the aged yerba example.

(3) Aged yerba mate is left to "mature" for up to two years after being dried. Only then does it get packaged. The result is a grey-yellow colour due to oxidation.

The story is told in the pictures of this album.

The Meta Mate Style

Meta Mate is a small scale production in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil sourced from small family farmers who harvest with respect for the trees. The entire production process is labour intensive (the money goes to the people, not to machines) and no electricity is used in production. Meta Mate is exported around the globe, especially to Germany where the company is based. Meta Mate is free from chemicals, far richer in nutrient compounds, more delicious in flavour than commercial brands and is part of Fair Trust. "We thought that these methods used to make Meta Mate were lost centuries ago. There is no yerba more original than this", says Jovi. 
*see Meta Mate's website www.metamate.cc
*buy Meta Mate in South Africa: www.yerbamatesouthafrica.com

[Thanks to Paulo Lima, Fabricio Do Canto and the Tolotti Family for sharing your expert knowledge and skills.]