Yerb your enthusiasm: 5C students run on Yerba Mate

(Laura Jaramillo • Student life)

Every Tuesday, a cheerful yellow van is parked behind the Smith Campus Center at Pomona College. Inside, boxes of a subtle cornerstone of 5C student culture. are waiting for you: Guayakí Yerba Mate.

The Coop Store, the final destination for checkouts, has been purchasing the drink directly from Guayakí since around 2000-2001, according to Brenda Schmit, head of retail services at the Coop.

“The company has been really successful in doing sampling to encourage sales of Yerba Mate,” Schmit said. “It’s hard to get it if I don’t get it directly from the company. “

The drink is by far the most popular item they sell – and has been since the Coop started selling it. As of October 27, the Coop had sold 1,962 Guayakí products this semester.

“I think it’s a staple of the campus at this point, as a cultural thing in this school,” said Coop Store deputy director Molly Wu PO ’23. “I think it’s cool that, at least in Pomona, the Coop Store plays a role in this supply.”

In the first weeks of the fall semester 2021, replenishments lagged behind demand.

“We had supply issues, and they weren’t coming as often as they should have been,” Wu said. “And we were asked about it every shift, every day. “Where’s the Yerba Mate?” Where’s the Yerba Mate? And when we finally got it, people were just buying it by four or five.

Although Guayakí started selling yerba mate in 1996 in Southern California, the traditional version has been drunk for hundreds of years. Popular in Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil, yerba mate is an infusion drink from the Ilex Paraguariensis plant native to Paraguay, according to Julio Garín, professor at Claremont McKenna College, originally from Uruguay, the country where the consumption of mate per capita is the highest.

“The yerba mate on campus is very different from the traditional yerba. For me, it’s a different drink – it doesn’t have the same ingredients, ”Garín said of the campus favorite. “This drink, you don’t share it, and the taste is very different.”

It is traditionally prepared in a hollowed-out gourd called comrade, which is filled at least halfway with dried yerba mate herb and drunk using a special metal filter straw (bombille). It is usually prepared with hot water transported in a thermos, which is used to fill the gourd after drinking. It can also be done with cold water, as is popular in Paraguay; in this case we call it earth.

“The cultivation of mate is very interesting, because you share the mate. You drink through a straw and share it with friends, ”Garín said. “And it’s not just that – if you go to a new place and introduce yourself to new people, it’s not uncommon at all to share a mate with people you’ve never met before. . “

Parents teach children to drink mate very early on, but in moderation.

“Parents give children the first sip of mate, and they record their expressions because it’s a very special taste,” Garín said. “The kids like it. It makes them feel like adults; it’s like a rite of passage.

Uruguayans drink so much mate that they are laughed at for it by people from other cultures who drink mate, namely Argentines, he said.

“It’s a stereotype [of Uruguay] that you see people walking with mate under their arm – people sometimes even drive while drinking mate, ”Garín said.

However, in the United States, people do not drive with a comrade in one hand, or share a drink with strangers from the same bombille.

” I dont drink [yerba mate] as is often the case in the United States, only once or twice a week, on days when I’m not teaching, ”Garín said. “I miss drinking [yerba mate] with other people. That’s a big part of it – sharing the mate. This is also why I drink less here.

I like the light [Yerba Mate] is, and it doesn’t affect my digestion as much as coffee. —Kate de Lafourcade SC ’23

Besides the cultural tradition, an attraction of the drink is its high caffeine content. This seems to be the attraction for 5C students of Guayakí infusions: a more pleasant alternative to coffee.

“I’m a Yerba Mate fan,” Wu said. “I don’t drink coffee, but I feel like tea is a good substitute when I’m tired.” She recounted being excited whenever she found dented bottles that couldn’t be sold at the Coop store because she could have them for free.

The Coop Store isn’t the only 5C store to have sold Yerba Mate. The Pit Stop at Pitzer College does this too, and The Motley at Scripps College also sold Yerba Mate.

“When it was [sold] at Motley, I would have it maybe once a month, mainly during mid-sessions and finals… but it would be A LOT [of Yerba Mate]. I don’t drink it regularly. says Kate from Lafourcade SC ’23. “I think the coffee is really gross and I hate the taste. I like the light [Yerba Mate] is, and it doesn’t affect my digestion as much as coffee.

Amelia Carttar PO ’22 tasted her grandfather’s mate for the first time bombille, but did not like bitterness. Her first year at Claremont, she rediscovered the appeal of yerba mate.

“I was buying a bunch of bottles at the start of the semester, so I ended up buying the leaves because I was spending a lot of money on bottles,” Carttar said. “I drink it when I need a little caffeine which doesn’t make me so anxious. It helps me focus more [than other caffeinated drinks]. “

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