Guayaki Yerba Mate

Yerba mate (yer-bah ma-tay), known scientifically as Ilex paraguariensis, is a tree of the holly family that is native to the Atlantic Forest of South America. In Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, yerba mate is commonly cultivated, but in the forest, a mate tree can grow up to 30 meters (almost 100 feet) in height.

The consumption of yerba mate is related to the unique relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their forest environments developed over millennia through the constant interaction, foraging, and management within the forest and construction and exchange of knowledge and practices for generations, between and among peoples. The knowledge that enabled the dissemination of the consumption and use of yerba mate originates from the Guarani (gwar-a-nee) people.

Indigenous Peoples, including Guarani, Kaingang (kai-gan-g), Aché (a-chay), and other cultures, continue to value the plant for its sacred properties and its ability to naturally energize. The practice of producing and consuming yerba mate was quickly adopted by settlers throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, and has become a significant part of cultural identities in the South American countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Today, yerba mate is consumed around the world, and a gourd circle (ronda/roda de mate), the cultural practice of sharing yerba mate among friends, has the power to bring people together.