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The Guayaki Experience

tree-on-revel-berry
Being in the circus requires an endless wellspring of dedication and energy, and acrobat / stuntman Dmitrious Bistrevsky has that. He’s driven by a passion for performance, constantly training to work on an ever-growing repertoire of tricks. The results are dazzling: He can do handstands, back flips, complex balancing and juggling — and that’s just where his list begins.

We met Dmitrious at a circus festival in Los Angeles and were blown away by everything he could do. Not to mention, he’s 6’7! His focus is inspiring, as is his training schedule: He’s working out daily to improve his skill set and be ready for auditions and shows. While most of his energy comes from his regimen and determination, we also discovered he was occasionally dipping into coffee and a few notorious energy drinks with some not-so-great ingredients. We just had to step in.

We gave Dmitrious cans of Revel Berry, Enlighten Mint, Lemon Elation, and each of our sparkling yerba mate flavors, and he’s heeding the call: He’s feeling it! That pic on the right is Exhibit A, and we’ll be posting more of these on our Instagram feed as we get them. Hope he’s not considering juggling any sparkling yerba mate cans…

August is an amazing time for a road trip — so we’re taking one! Our team members Grant and Beau are visiting colleges throughout the Rocky Mountains, sharing a gourd and reaching out to get yerba mate onto more campuses. We’ll share pictures and stories from the road as they come in.

Here’s the route Grant and Beau are taking (or click on the map to view). University of Utah was first on the list. They just got a yerba mate machine!

rocky-mountain-map

If you’ve been drinking Guayaki Yerba Mate for a long time, you know everything that we’re about. For people who are new to the wonders of the mate plant and the Guayaki mission, we find it hard to sum up everything that we do.

That’s why we turned to our friends at Free Range, a company that does wonderful storytelling work, and we’re amazed and grateful for what they were able to convey in just two minutes: The energy and power of yerba mate, our sustainable practices, our mission to restore 200,000 acres of South American rainforest, and our partnership with indigenous farmers. And a very cute monkey. It’s a gourdful!

Enjoy our new animated video and please post and retweet widely to help us get the message out. Thank you for continuing to share the gifts of the yerba mate plant, and for doing this very important work with us.

(Micah Cruver, also known as DJ Anski, runs FundRaver; a positive-minded group that puts on fundraisers and electronic dance events for thousands of students and organizations across the country. Find out more at FundRaver.com)

DJ Anski

4am. Portland, Oregon. The crisp sound of a freshly opened can of Guayaki has become synonymous with the start of an adventure. This was the beginning of something great. Miles of moonlit road speed underneath a vehicle packed to the roof with DJ equipment, lasers, strobe lights, beach balls and Yerba Mate.
Seven hours, three-hundred fifty miles and one amazing sunrise later, FundRaver had finally arrived at Gonzaga University.
As sound technicians unloaded massive speakers from the back of a large truck, a mountain of Guayaki was built on the front of a quickly growing stage. The event was to be a fundraiser for an on-campus student group, who had shown up hours in advance to help decorate and blow up beach balls. Crew members scuttled around, testing lighting and checking audio levels as the line of people grew outside. Finally, after hours of methodic setup, the stage sprung to life. The lights were turned off, and the doors flung open.DJ Anski charges the crowd
Excited students were greeted with chest-ratting bass and a fresh can of Yerba Mate upon entering the colorful world of FundRaver. Packed out within minutes, the venue was suddenly filled with mate-infused students, many of which wouldn’t stop dancing until the sun rose the next morning. Strobe lights illuminated a massive crowd, and lasers danced across the walls. A massive screen covered in colorful motion graphics displayed the phrase “Go Zags!”, and a thunderous cheer erupted from the dancing crowd. This was going to be a night to remember.

Electronic dance music has become a rapidly expanding scene, and maintaining energy during these massive events can be a struggle for DJs and dancers alike. For many, yerba mate is becoming an increasingly sought-after beverage, due to its healthy properties and awesome power. It’s truly a beautiful thing that something so natural has such a perfect place amid so much technology.

DJ Anski brings the sparkling Guayaki yerba mate
After a climatic finale of a Don’t Stop Believin’ remix echoed throughout the halls of Cataldo, the crowd finally dispersed; still buzzing about what they just experienced. Every drop of Guayaki had been consumed (except for the two cans secretly hidden away for the drive home). It’s rare to see so many people stick around until the very end, but the combination of amazing music, good people, and bountiful energy made this event something truly special.

Austin Lankford, rock climber

Rock climber Austin Lankford, 16, drinks yerba mate to help him maintain focus and energy while scaling a course:

I have been rock climbing since before I can remember, and now it even blows my mind seeing how far it has taken me.

Climbing is much more than just a sport to me in my life, it is a passion. I travel all around the world — not just climbing on world class routes and boulders, but guiding younger kids on my team on the same rock.

My family owns a climbing gym in my hometown, where I coach and get coached.

Rock climber Austin Lankford scales a graffiti wall.

Owning a climbing gym has really inspired me to become a coach. I think I can learn a lot about myself as a climber through my own teachings. Being a coach also helps me become a better climber: teaching kids helps me pass on the lessons I have learned throughout my climbing experiences.

When I am not traveling and climbing outside, I am in the gym almost everyday with my amazing coaches and teammates getting ready for all the competitions. I have competed in countless national competitions, and competitions out of the country.

To maintain my stamina on the rocks, yerba mate has been one of the most beneficial additions to my body, helping me stay healthy by providing the right nutrients I need to keep me in top physical condition. Climbing takes a great deal of focus and physical energy, which the amazing herb provides for me.

One of the things I love most about Guayaki is that they offer so many different forms of yerba mate. I prefer the loose leaf mate, traditionally drank out of a single hollowed out gourd passed around a group, because of the extremely natural taste.

I can understand it when the Guayaki team says, “something magical happens when you share yerba mate from a gourd. Ideas are shared, stories are told, and a sense of community is created.” I have noticed this in my own experiences when I am out climbing. It starts with somebody asking what I’m drinking, so I pass them my gourd, and the magic starts to happen.

Pope Francis, mate, and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez
Every time we pass a gourd, we can feel in our hearts the ability yerba mate has to transcend boundaries and bring peace, community, and connection. It’s exciting to see this spirit carried by the new Argentine Pope Francis as he takes on the papacy.

The ritual of enjoying yerba mate from a gourd is one a majority of Argentinians enjoy daily. Beyond its place in the hearts of Argentinians as a well-beloved tradition, yerba mate also contains a wealth of nutrients – a host of vitamins, minerals and other compounds, as well as caffeine to provide a welcoming boost.

Where to find organic Guayaki Yerba Mate

Pope Francis’s first gift from a world leader was a mate kit from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez (pictured above from Reuters), who presented the gift upon their first diplomatic meeting. The mate kit was made up of a new gourd, bombilla, and thermos to hold warm water.

We’re excited for the positive messages Pope Francis will share with the world, knowing that one who shares yerba mate holds intention of community, love, and peace. This is our daily practice and our company mission: explore for yourself the wonders of yerba mate and learn more about our work to restore the South American rainforest.

expo_booth_busy

There’s nothing more satisfying for a cebador than serving yerba mate to friends. So you can imagine we had a pretty exciting three days during the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. This year, the annual convention saw a record 63,000 attendees in the natural products industry — and it feels like we served all of them!

Our handmade cedar booth welcomed faces new and familiar as we shared the mate in a myriad of ways: as a direct warm brew, with coconut cream and agave to make mate lattes, or cold out of a sparkling can (or the Classic Gold mate keg). Each cup brought the intention of good energy and rejuvenating vibrations, invigorating many long exploratory journeys on the showroom floor.

 See all of our Expo pics up on Pinterest.

frothy_mate_latteBesides being a great place to learn about everything going on in the natural products world, Expo is also a chance for Guayakians to reunite and reconnect. Many of us work at the Guayaki mission from our home base in Sebastopol, while some of us work to bring Guayaki to different parts of the country from as far away as Colorado, Indiana, and New York. It’s tough to keep a crew like ours apart for long.

We were also excited to see so many initiatives on the labeling GMO front. Many organizations in the natural food and products industry are aligned with the notion of bringing label transparency to the things we put into and on our bodies. We were happy to hear the news that Whole Foods will require all products on its shelves containing GMOs to carry a label by 2018. With many voices speaking up and out for a change, we’re even more energized to continue pushing forward in a positive activist spirit.

Here’s to another year making an even bigger positive impact on our planet and moving the world towards better health, conscious choices, and sustainable living!

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corrine_with_mate
In our work, we meet many people who experience mate deeply, and we get to hear so many stories that we love! Here’s one from our friend Corinne, a vegan and lover of organics hailing from LA.

I had never heard of mate 13 years ago. I also didn’t know anyone from Paraguay. That is, until I met a guy named Alfredo at a punk rock party in the San Fernando Valley. My life has been full of surprises ever since then. We have had many adventures together, from touring the country in a van with his band, to traveling to Paraguay to visit Alfredo’s family.

Alfredo told me about mate and how it’s part of his culture and upbringing. I had it with his mom and dad and siblings here in America from time to time when we hung out, but I really was able to experience how much it was a part of his life when we visited his extended relatives in Paraguay. They drank it in the morning, and the afternoon and at night. They drank it at parties, at the park and in the car. It was every where and there was always a reason to drink it!Traditionalparaguaydance

When Alfredo and I met, we were very different people. I was a vegetarian who didn’t drink or do anything too wild. Alfredo was a meat eater who lived his life in excess. He was always going from one extreme to another.  We co-existed very well though, and over time we’ve grown so much.

A couple of years ago, we decided it was time to go vegan for our health and the planet. We went from eating non-organic vegan food with a lot of processed fake meats, etc. to now being organic vegans who primarily eat whole foods. We try to buy locally too and be as sustainable as possible.

This is why organic mate is the way to go for us. Supporting communities in Third World countries, like Paraguay where Alfredo was born, and putting something chemical-free and healthy into our bodies just makes sense to us.

We feel so great when we drink it too! We are very athletic now and have found it works far better than coffee for us when it comes to long-lasting energy. I also love the fact that drinking from our gourd together is a bonding experience. Instead of doing something separate, it has a way of bring friends and family together.  It’s an old tradition that I see lasting for a very long time! Mate will always have a place in our hearts.

 

The Guayaki teams in North and South America both work tirelessly and passionately for the same rainforest mission, but we don’t often get to spend time together. Our recent trip to visit the Ache Guayaki in Paraguay was a very special experience for us: we got to participate in the yerba mate harvest, connect with the rainforest, and for many of us, it was a chance to meet the rest of our Guayaki family for the first time.

We asked our team members who went to South America to send a picture that stirred a memory of the trip and tell us a story. Each felt something different; everyone felt something magical.

Luke

The photo I picked was taken the morning after we arrived. We had a long day of travel and an amazing day at the Iguazu falls the day before. That night, we met all the other people (now friends) at the lodge and shared our stories and just hung out learning about who we all are. We knew by the end of the night we had a very strong connection and the energy was building. The picture is of Alex and Boy under a umbrella of light, energy, spirit (you tell me) waiting to start a  trip down the Iguazu river.
Now after the trip I see the light as a bond taking place that we all became part of throughout the remaining days and time with our Ache Guayaki family.

don Miguel

Amongst all the photos that I took along the way, this one stands out to me as encapsulating the unity of our group with the Guayaki children.  Luke had the idea of walking around the village and looking for the church.  As we set out, the kids took us by the hand and led us along the way.  Through their village amongst the trees, we encountered pigs, chickens, and a big ol’ black cow grazing in the futbol field.  We saw a few men hard at work on their new school house, with a termo and guampa nearby for requisite breaktime.  Next to the schoolhouse, we saw the organic garden that had been planted in which the children took great pride.  The photo was taken as we had made a half lap around the village seeing the day to day goings on of the Guayaki people in their little piece of paradise in Paraguay.
 
 

Janal

I’m not sure who took this photo but I love it. It’s a beautiful moment when you find yourself coexisting with nature. Harvesting alongside the Ache makes you so keenly aware that you are part of something unique and how lucky you are to be embraced by this amazing community. It was the most gratifying work I’ve ever done and it gives my daily work an additional layer of personal meaning.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bernadette

That third and final morning was sublime as I had finally unwound and grounded into the experience.  It was a gestalt. There was the peacefulness of the rainforest and the bounty if offered in the newly harvested, aromatic mate. The feeling of shared purpose and  connection with the Ache community and those of us who came to participate. There was curiosity in the air.  Even though we were from different parts of the globe with very different lifestyles, we knew our lives were intimately connected. That was really cool to experience. 

This is one of my favorite photos, because of what it going on. This is a photo of the 1st milling/culling of the mate which is done by hand in the forest by the whole community; men, women and children (perhaps 6 and older).  The leaves are stripped from the branches and whole small stems with leaves are broken into 4 to 5 inch pieces in preparation for the flash drying. I loved participating!Us adults worked mostly quietly and repetitively.  The children laughed and played, feeling proud to be old enough to participate, and the teens poked fun with each other. I think I will always remember that crack, crack, cracking of the stems being snapped, the sounds of the forest and that pervasive feeling of connection. The sharing of a tasty mate gourd at break gave much needed energy to carry on with the labor and brought it full circle!

Mateo

This is one of my favorite pics because it captures Margarite and Alex, who is such a powerful visionary for the Next Economy and how we can live in balance and harmony with nature on this planet.  And Margarite struck all of us as such a powerful leader.  She was able to very succinctly summarize the Aché’s struggle: To protect the forest and to rise out of poverty while maintaining their indigenous traditions and way of life.  It is a pleasure to be working at the side of these two in working to support the Aché’s struggle, and the struggle we all face to save our planet from collapse and learn to live in a balanced way with all life on earth.

See more awesome pictures from our trip on Pinterest.

Donn Felker is CTO of tech company Qonqr and author of the books Android Tablet Dev for Dummies and Android App Dev for Dummies. Struggling with his coffee addiction, he made a Facebook post asking his friends for ideas. One of them suggested yerba mate, leading Donn on this journey:

gourdI never liked coffee until about my mid twenties. I found some sugary sweet drink that was some thing called a “latte”. I ended up liking it and ordered one whenever I met my friends at a coffee shop. Over time I noticed that these things also carried quite the “zing” (and jitters among other things) after I drank it. Before I knew it, a couple years later I was having a coffee every other day. Then I got married and my wife loves coffee. She brewed it all the time at home so I started having a cup here and there and made my own version of latte’s and such. Fast forward five years later and I’m a two cup of coffee drinker per day. If it was a late night it could be 3-4 cups of coffee to get the engine going.

As time progressed over the last year or so I noticed a change in the color of my teeth (as do all coffee drinkers usually). I brush my teeth so its not a hygiene issue. My dentist told me “you have very porous teeth, and if you drink coffee it will be absorbed into your teeth. Sure you can brush, but thats why your teeth are looking a shade or two darker.” That literally grossed me out. I was also growing very tired of the jitters and was beginning to have problems sleeping at night because I had so much coffee flowing through my system. I wanted to quit, I was done. I wanted brighter teeth (and better smelling breath, who likes coffee breath anyway?). So I tried to quit, cold turkey … oops.

Second day into quitting the massive headaches hit. I was grumpy, blah, not feeling good. Long story short, I started drinking coffee again. I tried cutting back, didn’t work. I tried slowly removing myself off of coffee, nope, didn’t work. I eventually didn’t even like the taste of it anymore, but I needed it. I couldn’t believe it… I was hooked on coffee. What the hell!  How could I let this happen!? Almost amused at the fact that I was hooked I posted on Facebook about how I was hooked on coffee and wanted to get off but wasn’t sure how. I mentioned I liked Yerba Mate and was going to give it a try but it seemed that the tea packets didn’t pack enough punch to help me get past NOT drinking coffee. That’s when my old friend Mateo commented and said I needed to try the loose leaf yerba mate instead.

new yerba mate drinker donn felker

After some conversation with Mateo about the loose leaf I was able to finally get my hands on some loose leaf Guayaki Yerba Mate as well as a Mate Gourd (a gourd is a cup that is made from a Gourd plant and is used in traditional drinking of the mate). Mateo informed me that drinking the mate that was loose leaf allowed the mate to be brewed as strong as coffee. Using the gourd took some getting used to, but I enjoyed it. It was a different experience and I’m glad to have one. However, I’m a klutz and I work at the computer a good part of the day so I could possibly spill it over a few thousand dollars worth of equipment – not good. To combat this and still have the great effects of the loose leaf tea but to also be safe around my electronics I picked up a French Press Travel Mug I can now bring Mate with me while I travel.

I used the gourd for about two weeks and noticed a great improvement in my quality of life. The first major benefit I noticed was that I slept like a rock at night. Apparently yerba mate helps you sleep at night when you drink it during the day. Very cool.  The second was that I did not have any caffeine/coffee withdrawals – I had plenty of energy.  Third, I didn’t experience the jitters or crash that you can get with coffee or even black or green tea.  I also felt VERY CLEAN when I drank it. Sometimes coffee (even with rice milk or almond milk) still sat very heavy in my stomach at times (this was only my experience so your mileage may vary). I did not have the brown staining effects of coffee as well as nasty coffee breath. Finally, I was able to finally kick the coffee habit. The one super nice thing about this? I’m able to enjoy an occasional coffee again. I still love the smell and the occasional taste of it. So every couple of weeks or maybe once a month I’ll have a cup of coffee, iced coffee or something that has coffee in it, simply because I want to… not because I have to. I’ve been able to go days without drinking tea and not have cravings or withdrawls of the sort. Overall its been a great experience.

Tips on kicking the coffee habit with mate: I’ve tried a few brands of mate and the kind that worked best for me (and the kind I liked the best) was the Guayaki Yerba Mate. You can find it at health stores like Whole Foods and the like. Make sure you buy the loose leaf kind and make sure you have a tea infuser, coffee maker for French press. Quitting coffee is like quitting any other drug – you have to be emotionally invested in quitting. Spend a few bucks, get a good infuser (get used to the occasional leaf in your tea, it won’t kill you) and/or a gourd. Drink it early in the morning when you wake up or when you normally drink coffee (I know many folks who only drink coffee after lunch). Basically… replace it with your coffee routine. I now take a bag of mate with me when I travel and I bring my travel press. Hot water is usually easily found at a hotel and then you’re off to a good morning with some good tea.

Have fun and enjoy!

– Donn Felker