Yerba Mate is a beverage that was used for hundreds of years by the South Americans. The infusion is made from dried leaves of the tree Yerba Mate or Ilex paraguariensis.
Before we have it ready for brewing and drinking, every Yerba Mate blend undergoes several stages that we're going to discuss in this article.
photo by: Eduardo Andre Gauna
The first step into the production process is to properly harvest the Yerba Mate leaves, and by that, it means that they have a special harvesting season. This season varies in different countries, so for an example in Paraguay, the harvesting season is usually starting from March to September, and in Brazil from January to September.
Sapecado and fogueado, are two stages from the next, drying process that are crucial for a perfect Yerba Mate. Sapecado is a step that's made in the first 24 hours of the harvesting process in order to save the Yerba Mate leaves from degradation because after harvesting them, they start to lose their color, taste, and aroma. All of this is prevented by exposing the leaves to a high temperature so they can get quickly dried. Then the Yerba Mate leaves come to the next stage, fogueado, where they are drying one more time but now exposed to hot air for a period of about 2 hours.
Milling the Yerba Mate leaves is the next stage of their production process where they are properly cut into squares and placed in bags.
After milling, the Yerba Mate leaves undergo a stage of maturation. The bags with Yerba Mate leaves are placed in chambers where many factors are regulated such as the temperature and humidity. This stage is very important so that the leaves can keep their natural characteristics.
Last but not least is repeating the milling stage of the mature Yerba Mate leaves, but this time with cutting them into smaller pieces ready to be nicely packed and disturbed to the Yerba Mate lovers!