Love coffee and the kick you get from it, but maybe wondering if there isn’t else you might like? Like Yerba mate perhaps?
For the uninitiated, Yerba mate, often called just “mate,” is an herb that comes from South America and is the most popular drink in that part of the continent.
Now Erva Brew’s Juan Rivera and partner/co-founder Tiffany Scalia have taken their mutual love of the herb and created a home for it in Pasadena.
As Rivera explained in a recent interview, “Mate grows like a tree and it is part of the Holly family. The herb contains caffeine as well as a lot of other nutrients that give your body a euphoric boost of energy. It’s been drunk by the Guarani Tribe of South America for hundreds of years because of the medicinal effects.”
Rivera also pointed out that, because of the “euphoric boost of energy” that it provides, it’s a very holy herb for the people of South America.
Scalia, who survived long study nights at USC with that energy boost, added, “We wanted to bring to Pasadena to introduce people to a different energy, a different, really a different way of life.
She said, “When you drink your yerba mate every day, you feel a lot different than you might by drinking other things or by not drinking anything at all.
Mate is actually the most popular beverage in South America, she pointed out. “So, we wanted to help bring it to the US to give it some popularity here, so that more people can enjoy the amazing effects of the herb.”
The herb is also versatile, lending itself to a range of popular “mocktails,” as Rivera explained.
“The mocktails contain a base yerba mate with different types of herbs. You can have a mint or anything else, and then we add fresh fruit juice here, whether it be watermelon and ginger passion fruit, or guava. We add citrus, we shake it over ice, and we serve it.
“And then,” he said, “We partner it with mint or any other fruit. And that’s what our mocktail experience is all about.”
And that begs the question: What does Yerba mate actually look like?
“Depending on what kind of cut and the way it was packaged,” Scalia explained, “it usually has a brown color, but some have a darker green color. I would describe the color like a tan woodsy color. That’s more traditional.
Scalia continued, “If you have a fresh green or have a yerba mate that was just harvested, or wasn’t dried, cut or anything else, it will have a dark green color. It’s like if you were just steeping leaves that you found out in your garden, that’s kind of how it would look. The taste is a little bit more bitter as well, a very robust, simple body.
But, she explained, “The longer it’s aged, the stronger the flavor becomes.”
But why Pasadena?
Because it’s awesome, offered Scalia. They had been offering the Mate at Pasadena’s bi-annual Jackalope art fair. And the response had always been strong, she said.
“We had been blending at this arts fair and we always had a great reception there,” she said. “It really felt like we were very welcome in the city of Pasadena. We sort of outgrew our commercial kitchen space and we just didn’t have enough room because we cold brew all our blends, which is pretty unique as well.
The partners had maximized the space at their shared commercial kitchen complex and were eager to move.
“We found a location that happened to be in Pasadena, which we always loved,” said Scalia. “It has a walk-in refrigerator, and a walk-in freezer, which are really hard to find. It seems like the perfect place we already know. We love the town, and the people seem to like us enough and the space has all we need. It didn’t require too much work. So that’s what brought us here.”
Finally, we asked, why Yerba Mate?
Scalia is quick to point out that, “The energy that you get from it is completely different from the energy you get from coffee. For most people, coffee is an intense rush of energy followed by a crash. For me it causes a lot of anxiety and then there’s a big crash at the end. And with yerba mate, it doesn’t feel that way at all.”
“It’s a really smooth, calm, uplifting energy that provides you with a sense of optimism,” she continued. “It’s been proven to enhance your focus and concentration and elevate your mood while bringing your stress level down. So it’s known as a ‘happy tea’ in some parts of the world.”