Published: 11/03/2005 - Updated: 08/08/2019
Author: Prof. Dr. Luis Ruiz-García
Knowledge of the yerba mate is back to the dawn of Guaranito culture. It was a staple of the Indians, who used it as a beverage, using bulbs made of reeds or chewing during their long marches. The yerba was in the culture guaraní as a social role beyond the purely nutritional purpose, it was the object of worship and ritual, while in its currency swaps with other pre-Columbian peoples: the Incas, and even the Charrua Araucanian to through the pampas, yerba were drawn up in the hands of the Guarani. Caa means herb in Guarani, but also means plant and bush. For the Guarani, the tea tree is the tree par excellence, a gift from the gods. Taking the sap of the leaves was as drinking the forest itself.
The Spanish conquistadors and Jesuit
From Guaranis, conquerors learned its use and the virtues it has, and made their consumption spread dramatically to the point of organized from a heavy traffic area of your home throughout the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata.
Later, Jesuits introduced the crop in some reductions. Their missions were distributed in the region that are the province of Misiones, Corrientes and northern Paraguay and southern Brazil Southwest to avoid the great distances that separated them from the production sites. They have unveiled the secret of the mysterious germinating weed seeds, discovering that only germinate those seeds that have passed through the digestive system of the toucans. But their removal, which occurred in 1769, took with them the secret, with the abandonment of plantations and losing the tradition of the culture. Although the Jesuits preferred to cooked mate rather than mate, they were largely responsible for the herb getting known in the civilized world, which became known as the "tea of the Jesuits."
Bonpland and Ilex
More than half a century later, the famous French naturalist Aimé Bonpland began the first scientific studies on the maté plant, its cultivation and uses. Two years later, the botanist in Paris Saint Hilaire ranked as the herb Ilex Paraguarensis.
Bonpland rediscovered the secret of germination, but it again was lost with the extinction of botanist. Just in 1903, Santa Ana-Missions rediscovered that only those seeds that germinate have passed through the digestive system of some birds and is the first modern plantation of Yerba Mate.
Until then and for many years, the tea that was consumed came from the jungle of wild plants that grew in patches with high density of trees, called islands. The irrational exploitation, where the felling of trees was rife for centuries, ended input full recourse that seemed inexhaustible. Only with sound plantations, crops of grass again find their place in history.
The yerba in the twentieth century
In the early years of the twentieth century, yerba mate large industries were born from Argentina, who settled in the ports of the South Rosario, and Buenos Aires, as yerba mate, which remained the most exploited in the natural forests of Brazil and Paraguay, was carried by the Paraná River.
In the 1920s, when the colonization of Misiones, the government awarded plots of land to European settlers on the condition that a part of it was implanted with yerba mate. When these plantations began to produce, the yerba mate from Rosario and Buenos Aires refused to buy that yerba because they continued buying the source of Paraguayan and Brazilian raw materials. Soon, this situation caused a major crisis in Misiones, because producers could not sell their produce, and as a result, the first intervention. Thus in 1936 the Act 12,236 was passed and created the "Regulatory Commission of Yerba Mate" and "Yerba Mate Market Consignee National Courts", which banned planting yerba mate and set production quotas. While state intervention undermined the spirit of the entrepreneur yerba mate to the 1966 Industrial Buenos Aires and Rosario continued importing yerba mate from Paraguay and Brazil.
In 1989, Yerba mate market was eliminated, but without creating a mechanism to get used to the producer to work without government intervention and letting market suddenly exposed. It was then after 1995 it came to the last crisis of overproduction, when excess material was a gradual but significant fall in the price that lasts until today.
Yerba cultivation at present
Despite numerous attempts, and the passage of centuries, yerba mate always resisted growing outside the perimeter that was formerly inhabited by the Guarani. Born in South America and continues to be a good American plant, but not any part of the continent. The range of the yerba mate is restricted to the northeast of Corrientes, Misiones, Paraguay and southern Brazil. There, the temperature, humidity and land are combined to achieve the ideal conditions for their development. However much has been attempting to grow in areas like North America, Asia and Africa, the tests have failed, and this is how the yerba mate was preserved as a unique treasure of invaluable importance for these regions.
The mate, a good habit
When Guarani people discovered the virtues of tea and how to develop the best way to enjoy is something that remains in the dark prehistoric past. We know, however, that the Spaniards adopted the custom instantly from indigenous Creoles making the fruit of passion and identity. Since the development of the yerba to form consumer habit of mate has been unchanged since ancient times and five centuries of history, rooted in the increasing use of southern South America and even spread to places far away. In Argentina is the most consumed beverage after tap water, without distinction of social classes and ages.
Source: The Establishment Marias
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