Do you know the southamerican tea called Mate?

Well, my next photographic documentary will be all about this drink.

It will become a book with fine art photos and explaining texts.

What is Mate?

Mate is a traditional and popular tea-like drink in the southern countries of Latin America. Specially in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, but partly also in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and Peru people drink mate. The leaves are coming from a small tree named Ilex Paraguariensis which grows in eastern Paraguay, northern Argentina, southern Brazil and partly in northern Uruguay. Locally they are called Yerba Mate or simply Yerba.

What is so special about the tea from this Yerba?

The special with this drink in those countries of its origin is that it is a social drink! People sit together and share it, passing the gourd, in which it is served traditionally, from mouth to mouth. Meanwhile, also the communication is flowing. This is called among them “mateando”. And they use special gear for preparing and drinking this tea. There are even two types of preparation: hot, called mate, and cold, called tereré.

And nowadays we find Yerba products even in our “industrialized” countries, mostly in form of common tea bags or also as an extract in different beverages.

In any case, this tea is stimulating, similar to black tea or coffee, and other benefits are atributed to its consumption too.

But do you know how and where this Yerba is produced?

Mostly we just consume without knowing where the products are coming from, how it was grown, processed and comercialized. This wouldn’t be very interesting if it would be just a completely industrialized process, from sowing to selling. But is is not so in the case of Yerba!

Because another social aspect is important with Yerba – and thus the subject of my new project: From planting to consumption of the Yerba many different people are involved. They employ their skills and efforts to produce the ingredients and tools for the consumers of Mate.

This is exactly what I want to show to the world, and honour with this all the efforts of the people, especially the numerous small scale farmers in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, growing those trees and harvesting quality leaves. They afterwards build the primary source for many factories of different scales in those countries, providing not only the essential input for this social drink, but also stable employment in not so stable national economies.

All those people deserve our recognition and gratitude for their dedication!

This book is thus dedicated to all those busy hands and brains providing us with this excellent drink.

Let us learn more about them! Let us know their faces, their tools, their products. This visual story will bring us closer to remote locations, traditional as well as modern production techniques, but especially to human characters and traditional societies. This book will be a sociogram of the Yerba production and consumption.

Book preparation and production process

The preparation and production of the photographic documentary will take some time and effort. It started already with scouting of adecuate locations for taking the photos, getting into contact with knowledgable people and arranging support for logistics and recording.

Next steps will be a detailed planning of the production in timely and technical manner, providing for the necessary inputs and funds, and finally travelling for taking the photos in the field. This will be followed by an extensive editing process until the book can be published as digital and/or print edition.