Lina and Vir met sitting next to each other on the first day of class when Vir offered to share her drink with Lina. It was yerba mate from her home country Argentina. Lina had tried yerba mate in the United States that was bottled or canned, but never had it loose leaf in a traditional gourd. They wondered why it wasn’t more common in the United States.
They started offering yerba mate to more people and realized that the traditional gourd wasn’t convenient, but people enjoyed the earthy taste, the immediate energizing buzz, and that there were no additives to the loose leaf yerba mate. Lina and Vir quickly discovered there was a market for a healthy alternative to lattes and energy drinks, so they began to explore ways to offer people a convenient way to drink yerba mate.
Vir went back to Argentina to meet several yerba mate farmers in Misiones. They decided to partner with small-scale producers with similar values to build close relationships, ensure product quality, and support local communities. The yerba mate was brought to California and packaged into individual biodegradable to-go packets and paired with a reusable bottle made from bamboo and BPA-free stainless steel — the Matherma.