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big yerba mate leaf

A big leaf of Ilex Paraguariensis, a.k.a. yerba mate.

Before our longtime mate scientist, Garth Hokanson, retired from our Guayaki family last month, he gifted us with some vital know-how on growing and maintaining yerba mate plants. Here’s his vital guide to learn more about the plant, great if you’re ready to cultivate your own Ilex Paraguariensis.

The Cultivation of Yerba Mate

By Garth G Hokanson

Yerba mate is native to a specific region of the world, principally Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. This region is similar to what we call the Mediterranean climate. Coastal California with its Mediterranean climate is a perfect location to grow yerba mate plants (Ilex paraguariensis).

Mate needs shady conditions with well drained soils. It likes frequent watering. The more shade, the larger and darker green the leaves grow. Plants grown in full sun will have small, narrow dry leaves that are bleached of some of their rich green color.

Yerba mate is part of the Holly (Ilex) family. The plants are dioecious, which means that seeds may produce male plants or female plants. Each plant will have only one sex. So if you eventually would like to harvest seeds from your own plants, you need a number of plants to hopefully get at least one male and one female. Flowers are tiny white star shapes. Not very showy as they occur on the stems, under the leaves, not at the tips or a flowering stalk. Berries start off green, turn a mustard color and then red and eventually with age to a dark purple red. At any of the red stages, harvest the seeds and dry them for several weeks. The fruit pulp which protects the seeds can be removed from the seeds to speed up germination, or you can just plant the entire dried berry.

Mate can be grown from seed or propagated by cuttings. Seed takes nearly 12 months to germinate. Seeds are about the size of grape seeds and should be planted twice their diameter deep, in a very fertile planting mix. Do not start them in an inert mix, like perlite or vermiculite. Since the plants are so small when they germinate, one must leave them several months in the seed flat until they get the second set of leaves before transplanting them to individual pots. The seed has a short life. Six months is about the longest you can get good germination from yerba mate seed.

Seedlings are very fragile for the first 2-3 years. They are best grown in a cold frame, hot bed or greenhouse for the first year.  The fragile plants are susceptible to snails, slugs and pill bugs, which can quickly eat the tops of the seedlings. Once the apex is gone, the plant will die. So take measures to guard against these pests. Growth of a seedling is very slow. Only about an inch a year for the first 2 to 3 years. When plants are 5 to 7 years old, you can expect between 2 to 4 feet of growth a year.

Propagation by cuttings is another way to start yerba mate. Half ripe cuttings about 4 inches long will root in perlite in about 6-10 months. Unlike the seedlings, cuttings are best in an inert media. As soon as the cuttings produce roots, they can be transplanted to a small pot with soil. Cuttings will give you a more robust plant but seedlings tend to have a vigor that outgrows the cuttings the first years.

Yerba Mate can withstand temperatures down to 15 degrees. So essentially most of coastal California up to Sonoma County are perfect locations. In the spring, summer and fall, the plants are a dark green with shiny leaves. At the first outbreak of cold weather the stems will start turning red and new growth will turn a purple to dark red color. This is simply the winter color and is normal. Extended freezes may cause plants to lose leaves, but they will grow back when warmer weather comes again. Plants do not need to be covered, if planted in the ground during bouts of cold weather. But it is critical that they stay watered, as a frozen root ball will remain at 32 degrees when air temperatures drop to the 20s. If you are growing mate in containers, then it is advised that you move the containers close to the house, under a roof eve or patio to help protect from extended cold weather.

Yerba mate comes from rainforests where dead tree trunks and leaves are continuously decomposing creating humic acid and a rich acidic soil. So a regular fertilizing plan is needed if you want to see rapid growth of your plants. Foliar fertilizer sprays or granular fertilizers will do fine. Choose fertilizers that are balanced, where the first number (Nitrogen) is approximately twice the second two numbers (Phosphorus & Potassium). Combinations like 18-6-5 or  20-10-10,  etc. are examples of combinations to look for. The key is to always keep the first number Nitrogen) high, which is responsible for stem and leaf growth. Turf fertilizer is too strong.  Bulb food 0-10-10 or similar low Nitrogen combinations will cause the plant to stop elongating and stop producing leaves and to begin producing seed, which is not what you want for the first 5 years.

When your plant grows large enough to harvest-about 4-5 feet, prune the plant back as you would a small fruit tree, leaving a strong limb base for future growth. Leaves and small stems can be separated from the thicker branches. Discard the thick branches and rinse the leaves and stems with cool water and allow them to dry. For best results, once leaves are dry, you can put the leaves on a cookie sheet and put them into a 400 degree oven for 2-3 minutes. This high heat (Sapecada) deactivates the leaf enzymes and keeps the leaves from fermenting. Then drop the temperature to 100 degrees for 2-3 hours. Or, after the Sapeco of 400 degrees,  just allow the leaves to air dry for a couple weeks, where there is no direct sun. Placing a paper towel over top of the leaves will prevent dust from settling on the drying leaves.

Once dry, you can crumble your leaves to fill a gourd, or French press or make your own tea bags and enjoy your very own home-grown yerba mate.

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…

(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.

Darrin Moreira is a North Vancouver-based personal fitness coach who uses Guayaki Yerba Mate in a number of his recipes. Learn more about him at OrganicFit.org.

As a fitness professional, one thing that I often hear from customers is that they don’t want to be taking in extra calories when they are trying to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. Consequently, a pre-workout meal often gets overlooked.

These are all the basic ingredients that you’d need to prepare a whole array of different drinks or gels. I have a 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) trail race coming up, so I’ll explain how I prepare a drink for that event. Ingredients for pre-workout recipe

Basic ingredients:

  • Guayaki Yerba Mate
  • Agave Nectar
  • Coconut oil
  • Dates
  • Hemp or rice protein powder
  • Chia
  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Coconut water

Recipe for a 25 kilometer / 15.5 mile race

In a blender, process:

  • 1 large date
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 10-13 grams of protein powder (depending on what brand you use this should be about half a scoop)
  • Juice from half a lemon + zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • Brewed Guayaki Yerba Mate (1-2 table spoons loose leaf) with as much water as desired.

Nutritional information (approximate)

Calories 210

36 grams carbohydrates

12 grams of protein

2 grams of fat

I generally just throw the mate leaves in the blender with the other stuff, but if that doesn’t work with your pallet, you can steep with water and let it cool — then use the prepared drink instead of water.

These drinks can be altered in various ways. For instance, I might add coconut water instead of agave to boost the electrolyte content or throw in some chia to add fibre and omega-3 fatty acids to make the energy release even slower. For a short workout, I might just have a cup of yerba mate with a date or mate with coconut water.

The dates provide you with almost pure glucose with gets absorbed into your blood stream right away to provide energy. The agave is mostly fructose which is a simple sugar (like glucose) but it doesn’t get absorbed as quickly so it will be released after the glucose has been used up. The coconut oil is a saturated fat. Convention tells us that this is a no go. However, the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are absorbed very quickly and used for energy much the same way as glucose. The protein used now will help speed recovery later on after the workout as well as prolong the release of energy for the race. The lemon and salt both provide electrolytes which will be especially important on an event where you’ll be sweating a lot (the lemon also makes it taste nice.)

The mate will not only provide you with a host of phytonutrients, which aid in long-term health, but they have a stimulating effect. Phytonutrients are non-essential chemicals found in different plant based foods that, while not necessary for life, provide other benefits. This helps with mental focus and as numerous studies suggest, can help you push harder during endurance activities.

darrin_recipe

That’s just one recipe that can be made for a particular event. In a 25 kilometer / 15.5 mile race, I’ll burn upwards of 1 800 calories (I’m about 73 kilos). And I start out with just 210 calories! Of course, with a race like this I’ll take a second or third drink with me to fuel part way through depending on when I need it. My endurance (during workout food) drinks are about the same as a pre-workout drink.

I really like to use Guayaki because it is sustainably harvested and the quality is unsurpassed. I believe that to properly take care of our bodies, we must, at the same time, take care of the Earth. So I always use what products that I think best fit with this view.

Recipe versus workout in calories

Let’s consider this with a 50 kilogram / 110 pound runner who is going to run for an hour. By running for 10 kilometers on an empty stomach, she will burn 500 calories (to find calories burned while on a steady run, multiply kilometers ran by your mass in kilograms).

Now, let’s assume that she uses a well-designed preworkout drink that contains 70 calories right before her run. In that one hour, she might be able to push a little harder — run 12 kilometers, burning 600 calories in her hour. Though she initially consumed more calories than she might have wanted for that day, she was able to push harder and burn an extra 100 calories. Thus her net calories burned were still greater even though she ate something extra. This example is intended to simplify how consuming a few extra calories may not be a bad thing, please do not take it literally.

 

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.

seabass_under_wave

Bodyboarder Seabass Perez says aloha and mahalo:

I’m from Dana Point, California and I’ve been bodyboarding for about six years. I’m writing you now from the island of Oahu on the North Shore, and I’ve gotten very into Guayaki since I’ve been here.

Yerba Mate is such a great addition to my everyday routine, always providing me with the best nutrition and energy. When the waves are pumping, I’m usually in them. Sustaining that involves a lot of exercise to my days in and out of the water. I’m not much of a runner, but I stay productive, and I’m always moving in the water, whether the waves are small or big.

seabass_with_guayaki

I surf every day. After three or four-hour long surfs, I go to our local Foodland for bottled Pure Heart and Pure Passion.

I think anything that has to do with water fitness keeps you in top shape. You don’t realize how many muscles your body really uses in a surf or swim — not like wearing out your calf muscles by running. To keep my energy up, I like to maintain a good diet of vegetables. Veggies and yerba are the best combo! No need to rely on coffee for my energy.

It’s been going well for me here for the past three months. I travel year-round to surf, hitting the waves of Hawaii, Mexico, Indonesia, Tahiti, and beyond. And there’s no comparison to living in the beauty of where I am here and now.

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!

save20

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.

GMO protest in Honolulu

As a company with quality, sustainability and food justice sewn into our DNA, we feel the pull to join advocates for the right of all people to cultivate and enjoy their own food. We brought our vision to a gathering at the state capital in Hawaii to help protest GMOs, attend events and listen to the words of Dr. Vandana Shiva, a dear environmental activist, author, and powerful speaker.

Guayakians David Karr, Alex Pryor, and Patrick Lee traveled to greet the crowds at the capital building for three days of talks by Dr. Shiva. Beyond the joy of hearing great words by Shiva, the team came loaded, sharing about 500 cans and bottles of our organic, non-GMO yerba mate to a crowd hungry for quality non-GMO food and drink. Beautiful energy to add to the voices of the day.

For those who were unable to attend, it’s worth reading the transcript of Dr. Shiva’s speech at the capital. The moving way she weaves her words presents a powerful message for the way we produce our food worldwide, and the natural right we have as members of Earth to plant and harvest seeds to nourish ourselves and our global community. A big takeaway point: We are an interconnected species.

Alex Pryor and Dr. Vandana Shiva enjoy wonderful energy and a gourd of non-GMO yerba mate together.

Alex Pryor and Dr. Vandana Shiva enjoy wonderful energy and a gourd of non-GMO yerba mate together.

Since our inception, our fans have helped us save more and more rainforest each year. Last month, we tallied  everyone’s total impact for all of 2012, and the numbers blew us away! It’s nothing short of wonderful to feel our momentum growing and know that this year, we’ll save even more. But besides drinking more mate, what else can we possibly do to top numbers like these? As Luke shows us here at our annual team meeting, we’re saving over 24 million trees and protecting over 1 BILLION square feet of rainforest!

Luke presents our yerba mate drinkers' total impact in 2012 at Guayaki HQ

Many of us with a connection to the yerba mate plant can’t help but hear the call to help the forest as much as possible, which is just one reason the Guayaki Foundation established a page on GlobalGiving.org. Through the help of our fans, we’ve managed to establish a permanent presence on the site. Our donation page allows you to see where funds will be redistributed, and how much goes into protecting the harvest, and how every last dollar counts.

Guayaki drinkers are active participants in our mission and community, and this year, we’ll see it more than ever — from the rainforest protection already built into our business to the opportunity to raise more for the cause. As always, we’ll also be out in the world, sharing yerba mate with you, enjoying this planet, and discovering the many deep ways we can connect with it. Onward, to the forest!

 

Visit our donation drive on GlobalGiving.org to contribute: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/guayaki/