Early South American tribes had discovered the wild yerba mate plant and considered the mate tea “the drink of the gods.” During the 16th century in Argentina, the Spanish conquistadors took a liking to the mate tea and spread the consumption of this nutritious herbal tea. Eventually it was Jesuit missionaries that spread mate tea drinking and the creation of yerba mate plantations to other parts of South America. The Jesuits found the secret to successfully growing yerba mate was the use only seeds that passed through the digestive system of certain birds. This secret left with the Jesuits when they were expelled in 1769. Much later, a French botanist figured out the secret of yerba mate seed germination but then disappeared. By the early 1900s, the secret revealed itself again and cultivation of yerba mate tea on plantations resumed.
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