Hello and welcome to the first installment of our Aviva stories. In addition to monthly specials, each month I would like to communicate to you what is going on with Aviva. Over the four and a half years we have been in business, I have sampled many brands from South America. I wanted to clarify some truths and mistruths. Similar to coffee, the end result of yerba mate is dependent upon the location of where it comes from. The process of how it is grown, the soil, the amount of direct sunlight and of course the milling and aging process all contribute to a unique taste and experience
I like to break the growing process into three different types: farm grown/farm grown organic, sustainable organic, and wild harvest.
Farm Grown/Farm Grown Organic:
Because of increasing demand outside of South America, yerba mate ranchers have had to develop a means to meet larger production schedules. The result is not always the most environmentally-friendly way of bringing mate to the market. Typically, the natural forest is cut down and cleared to make room for nice neat rows of mate plants. This is similar to mass production methods here in the states (orange groves, grape vinyards, apple orchards, etc...) It is possible for this type of mate to be organic; however, pesticides are often initially used to control the ants and other bugs that prey on the young leaves. After the trees reach a certain height and age, natural defenses can usually take care of that threat.
Organic growing methods are usually employed here. This process does not destroy the forest, but producers typically cut down and clear most of lower foliage. The tall canopy trees are left intact. Mate is then planted in easily cultivated rows beneath the canopy trees. This method has less of a negative impact on the environment than farm grown mate. Because the mate is grown in harmony with the natural land and its inhabitants, it is referred to as a "sustainable" means of production. Marketers of this type of mate often refer to their product as "shade grown" (or even "forest grown") because the canopy trees that were left intact actually do provide shade for the mate grove.
Forest Grown Wild Harvest:
We're not aware of another company (besides ourselves) that offers this type of mate. With this production method, the forest is left intact. The land is not cleared and the earth not scraped. These trees have been nourished by nature not man. The leaves of the mate plants are thinner and possess a darker green color with a unique taste profile indicative of the natural elements found in the rainforest soil. Many consumers experience a bolder body and a smoother taste. The only clearing has been to provide roads and access into the rainforest. The rich habitat in the jungle is left intact. We are fortunate to have as a partner a man who is an environmentalist. For thirty-seven years Jim carson, a retired U.S Airforce Colonel, has lived on this land...a total of 21,000 acres.
The subject I want to touch upon is the types of mate. In South America it is customary to have sticks and stems in the process. For a couple of reasons this makes sense. First, the traditional manner that mate is consumed... Each country and region has their special vessels for drinking the mate, normally a gourd, a horn or a wooden cup turned on a lathe. The bombilla or straw can be bamboo, stainless, aluminum, or German silver, but the process is the same. The sticks and stems help to not clog the holes in the bombilla. Secondly, yerba mate in South American can have a different percentage of sticks and stems. I have seen some brands that have 75% ground sticks and stems and 25% yerba. From an economic standpoint, this makes sense. They get extra money for the sticks and stems that Aviva has removed.
Aviva's wild harvest yerba goes through two extra processes to remove the sticks and stems. Through sampling and extensive taste testing, we believe we have come up with some of the highest quality yerba mate on the market. One of our motto's is "A South American Favorite with a North American twist". What we have done different is to design our line to integrate with the pallets and the manner that North Americans drink their beverages. Don't get me wrong here, the traditional way mate is consumed in South America is wonderful, rich in history and heritage, and it works. If you are looking for a traditional mate with sticks and stems, then ours is not for you. If you are looking for a mate that is consistent in taste and designed for ease of use (coffee pot, french press, tea bags, green espresso), then ours is for you! It also works well in the gourd if you don't mind sucking some up now and then.
Thank you for reading.
Founder, Aviva Ltd.
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