You’re drinking infusion of ilex paraguariensis and wondering how the way of this aromatic, stimulating drought from a plantation to your gourd looks? We invite you to get to know the traditional technology of yerba mate production which has been used in central South America for generations, today supported by knowledge about ecology and sustainable economical and environmental development.
Stages of yerba mate production:
1. Cultivation and drought harvesting (cosecha)
Evergreen bush which ilex paraguariensis is can be harvested on plantations after growind for minimum four years. Sometimes harvest is carried out also on forest, wild sites. It happens from May (sometimes March) to September or October. Twigs with leaves are hand-cut, then selected and taken to a processing plant.
2. Preliminary drying of material (sapecado)
On this stage, directly after harvest and selection, preliminary drying of the leaves and twigs is carried out. In a gentle way it interrupts fermentation which could take place in a fresh plant. Drying is performed by heating the material above fire or frying it in a special rotating machine (it should not have contact with smoke). The process lasts only 30 seconds and has to be carried out in no longer than 24 hours from the first stage – cosecha.
3. Complete drying (secado)
Depending on what kind of yerba mate is produced, complete drying of material is performed in different ways. Barbacua means drying leaves and twigs with fire method, when the material is dried with hot air which reaches it by a special chimney or tunnel. Carijo is a similar method though here holly can have direct contact with fire and smoke. This kind of drought gains more matt colour and intense aftertaste of bitterness with smoky notes. In particularly strong kinds of yerba you can discover different smoky aromas. Nowadays complete drying we distinguish using names CON HUMO (dried with smoke) and SIN HUMO (dried without smoke). The latter type are yerba mate much milder in taste and aroma while the former – ones of more distinct smell and darker leaves colour.
4. Grinding (canchado)
After complete drying of holly comes the time for preliminary grinding of the material. It is done mechanically by fragmenting twigs and leaves and obtaining different thicknesses of drought as well as yerba dust.
5. Seasoning (estaciondo)
When drought has been ground it can go to longer rest when it will be maturing and gaining deeper aroma and taste. The material is put into burlap sacks and seasoned in special, cooled storages. Time of ageing depends on what final effect producer wants to obtain – regarding both taste and power. The longest seasoned yerba mates are estaciondo, aged for around 2 years. On the market are also yerba mates which are aged shorter – several months or a year. You can also encounter kinds dried with hot air, that do not undergo estaciondo process in order to retain maximal freshness and grassy, gentle taste.
6. Grinding and sieving of drought (molienda)
After seasoning time appropriate for the given kind, drought is ground once more. This time attention is paid to concrete elements extracted from the material: leaves’ size (thicker, thinner), sticks and also dust. By means of a sift they are selected and separated. For a given brand of yerba mate proportions in which drought is mixed will be different. Most yerba mates contain adequate percentage of tiny leaves, sticks and dust, though there are ones in which the producer goes for big pieces of leaves and trace amount of sticks. In turn, in the strongest yerba mates we will find prevalence of dust with admixture of small sticks or small leaves. On molienda stage are also prepared other ingredients that are added to flavoured yerba mates: herbs, dried fruit, natural aromas.
7. Packing yerba mate (envasado)
And at last ilex paraguariensis drought is ready to take its place in our company packaging! Envasado is product packing in such weights as 0,5kg or 1kg as well as in other amounts. Then yerba mate goes to shop shelves and to warehouses of yerba mate wholesalers, to finally reach the gourd of an Indian Green Gold lover.