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The Queen Outlawed Mate

Sep 26, 2012

yerba mate takes the throne

Throughout history, there have been many attempts to ban yerba mate

Yerba mate was illegal in London. Published in the 1882 Tropical Agriculturist, we hear the plea of Anglo Porteno, writing to the Editor of the British Trade Journal, fighting for the right to resume drinking mate in London. “It is, in time, a most greatful, and, beyond all question, a most healthy and invigorating beverage,” he wrote.

The drink was banned by Queen Anne “out of hatred to Spain (or to the Jesuits).” It’s hard to imagine yerba mate once being outlawed. A drink that has become more than just a drink for us. It has become a way of life.

But mate has always faced diversity. From the Jesuits’ removal from their Missions, leading the to destruction of the yerba industry, to the failure of the Mate Tea Company of the United States in the early 1900s, attempting to spread the mate gospel, only to see it fall to the emergence of tea and coffee. Later in the mid-1990s, we saw Guayakí refill the gourd and have another go at spreading the holy herb.

Yet, here we are—2012. Mate is still a relatively unknown plant in the States. Nevertheless, it’s growing. It seems as though mate thrives in diversity. It’s still spreading, however slowly.

I must admit that the unknownness of mate is alluring. Perhaps you are the only one in your town now drinking mate. We’ve all experienced the resistance of new drinkers, balking at the bitterness. But we know that the bitterness is not to be shunned, but embraced. We’ve all seen a Matero in the making. Remember the first time you saw someone just get it after a few sips?


  1. Coincidentally, also in 1882 yerba mate came to Poland on command of Edmund Saporski-Woś, the pioneer of Polish settlement in Brazil. Unfortunately, back then the land was occupied by Russians, Austrians and Prussians. To protect Russian traders, which were making healthy profits on Chinese tea, the Russian Tsar introduced an overwhelming import duty to kill the idea of bringing yerba mate to Polish land.

  2. Sick picture! Get a crown on that gourd!

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