Most “buy this to save the environment” type messages really have to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, buying stuff — even good, green-minded stuff — takes energy and resources, the carbon footprint of which generally overshadows whatever eco-benefit the product promises, be it difficult-to-track carbon offsets, or a hard-to-pin-down “percentage of profits” donated to an eco-charity, or more rarely, some actually substantial eco-commitments.
This eco-feat wasn’t achieved just by the work in the rainforests. Guayaki seems very serious about reducing the carbon footprint of its products — the company’s latest eco-innovation being biodegradable bulk bags of yerba mate! Now, you can buy 1 lb packages of San Mateo Mate or Traditional Mate — then put the non-GMO, water-based ink printed, sustainably sourced wood-pulp bio bags into your compost, where it should biodegrade in 180 days.
How do they taste? I had a daily mate drinking friend, Matt Bowen, put them to the test. His verdict: "I really like both of them, particularly like the “San Mateo” roast. It’s the first time I’ve had anything other than the traditional, and I liked what it did…it was a little softer on the palette. The packages both have a list of adjectives I would agree with. The Traditional is: rich, robust, balanced. The San Mateo is: bright, lively, herbal. They’re both just a little more crisp and rounded than most mate…though that could strictly be a result of their freshness."
So it appears that the bio bags are good at keeping the yerba mate fresh! Matt drinks his yerba mate with a healthy helping of honey; he says it helps take off the edge.
Sweeteners do seem to be necessary for most Americans to enjoy traditional yerba mate — which is perhaps why Guayaki’s developing new, smoother concoctions. Previously, I’d had the unsweetened mate — which I found much too bitter. But lately, I’ve been drinking the flavored Guayaki Yerba Mate bagged teas — Pure Endurance (”an orange blossom stamina blend”) and Greener Green Tea (”an antioxidant rich yerba mate green tea blend”) — without sweeteners, and am liking them!
I also enjoyed the flavored bottled Guayaki teas — the “Pure Mind: Pomegranate Clarity Blend” was especially yummy — but those do come sweetened with organic cane juice and other fruit juices. The glass bottles also have a much higher carbon footprint — and will cost quite a bit more per serving of mate — than the biodegradable bulk bags, as you can imagine.
Want the most eco-friendly AND economically-conscious option that’ll make you look like a serious yerba mate drinker-environmentalist? Go for the bulk bag. Just $12 gets you a whole pound that’ll last you a good long time — and provide months of entertainment as you keep peeking in your composter to check on the bag’s biodegrading process….
Images via Guayaki