How Yerba Mate Energy Tea Is Really Made - Exclusive

Have you ever heard of yerba mate? If not, never fear — Mashed has you covered. Yerba mate is a plant species located in South America that is often used to make herbal tea. The Guarani people, an Indigenous group, were the first to discover the plant and utilize it as a nutrition and energy source (per Yerba Mate Australia). It wasn't until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors to the New World in the 16th century that yerba mate really took off as a brewed tea. Today, YACHAK Organic centers around yerba mate, as the brand offers variations of plant-based energy tea. Julie Raheja-Perera, a YACHAK representative, explained exactly how the drink is extracted.

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Raheja-Perera did a deep dive into how YACHAK came about and how the plant really works. She even revealed the company's top-selling flavor, which is berry blue. YACHAK, actually co-owned by PepsiCo and Unilever, currently offers four other flavors that include blackberry, passionfruit, ultimate mint, and berry red (dibs on the passionfruit!). Due to the hot and humid climate in South America, the yerba mate plant is found in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil. But how is the drink really made?

YACHAK uses air dried yerba mate leaves

According to the company's website, YACHAK Organic offers a naturally occurring, plant-based caffeine that can boost energy and improve mental focus. YACHAK representative Julie Raheja-Perera said, "Yerba Mate is a natural source of caffeine and has been consumed as a brewed tea for centuries. YACHAK uses Organic Yerba Mate Leaf Extractive, which are air dried Yerba Mate leaves, a species of the holly plant." Just like regular tea, the leaves are brewed in water.

Raheja-Perera claims that the inspiration for the tea comes from the Ecuadorian Amazon, where the drink has been brewed in those regions for centuries. She noted, "Sustainably sourcing our Yerba Mate from its original source has always been a core value behind our brand."

To that end, YACHAK is in partnership with One Tree Planted to encourage reforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. The brand recently collaborated with National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale for The Amazon Assignment. This contest brings one lucky photographer to the Amazon Rainforest to capture the reforestation and sourcing process. No doubt this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — and the winner might be able to grab some locally brewed yerba mate while they're at it.

Head to The Amazon Assignment website to learn more about the partnership or Ami Vitale's Instagram page to keep up with her latest projects. Check out YACHAK Organic's website to see their products.