Why Angelenos need Yerba Mate
“Anything can happen in Los Angeles,” one of my theater student’s mom told me in response to my awe. We had just left her daughter’s orchestra rehearsal, where one of my childhood idols, Gwen Stefani, encouraged a group of elementary school musicians from South LA to keep up their practice. The full weight of that statement, which she presented as such a simple explanation, hit me as soon as she said it: we really lived in a very special place.
I know it sounds naive, but after moving from Pennsylvania to LA for college, I was so stuck in the campus bubble that I hadn’t gotten to see much of “this side” of the city. The casual brush with celebrity that people who live/grew up here get so used to had only happened to me twice: 1) when I served Pink (funnily enough, a fellow Pennsylvanian) a slice of Spicy Pie pizza at a music festival outside of City Hall, and 2) when I let Dave Franco borrow my yoga book before the final exam senior year. I had studied Los Angeles history and the concept of celebrity, and edited many of my film-major friends’ papers about all sorts of cinematic concepts, but after 4 years on campus, I had not yet lived it.
A frenetic energy of creation
The more people I meet here, the more I realize that this city is thriving with a frenetic energy of creation. While some have the privilege to be in positions of power to influence the future of society through music, television, and film production, the rest of us are creating, too; just in other ways. Los Angeles is home to some of the best and hardest-working, artists, cooks, small-business owners, teachers, students, writers, hotel workers, coders, composers, screenwriters, and baristas (and the list goes on!) in the country. Whether creating a work of art or an experience for a guest, we are all creating almost all of the time. And in the small amount of time we aren’t creating in our hustle, we’re creating for our family and friends. Creating time to spend together – carving it out between rush hours and work obligations, creating meals to share, or sometimes just a thoughtful collage to celebrate a birthday.
Is coffee really the only way?
The pace can be exhausting, and sometimes it feels as if coffee is the only easily-accessible option to fuel the creative energy, or at least the most popular one. As a new coffee shop seems to pop up every week to meet the demands of those rising to the challenge of their days, I’m here to propose we collectively pause and ask ourselves this question: is coffee really the only way?
Just imagine a day that doesn’t involve an obligatory trip to an espresso machine because the afternoon crash is hitting hard and you still have over an hour of traffic to sit through. I used to be addicted to coffee – working 18+ hour shifts at music festivals, driving 12+ hours in one day, I was convinced it was necessary for me to stay even the slightest bit functional. When a dear friend introduced me to yerba mate almost 10 years ago, it was like I experienced another version of reality, and I would argue, a better one. I have not looked back since. Yes, yerba mate gives you energy – with a little more caffeine than black tea and a little less than coffee, and about five times the amount of antioxidants as green tea (not to mention fatty acids and amino acids) – the herb is a nutritional powerhouse that will definitely wake you up. The difference is in the type of uplift – it’s a clear-headed, optimistic energy that feels notably different than coffee. You will not feel on-edge, shaky, or wired. There’s more than one reason why so many teams in the World Cup (including the winners!) were drinking yerba mate before every match.
The reality of Yerba Mate
Not only is the energy great for the obvious athletic reasons, but yerba mate is also known as the “friendship tea” for the sense of community it inspires. In South America, people traditionally share a gourd of mate while all sipping through the same bombilla (filtered straw). The drink inspires a sense of optimism, well-being, connectedness and focus, that is extremely useful when trying to keep a team of people motivated for a common purpose. Almost everyone in Los Angeles, in their efforts to create, is on some sort of team – and I propose that yerba mate is the perfect drink to support the efforts of those teams.
My team’s goal is to make the world a more connected, inspired place, by crafting beverages in environments that foster positive interactions. We strive to create positive moments that stay with you throughout your day, and fuel you with the optimistic “I can do anything!” energy you need. Whenever you feel you’re ready to get into the flow of balanced and connected energy, we’d love to meet you. After all, we’re all building something – and we’re here to tell you to keep at it, because anything can happen in Los Angeles.
Tiffany Scalia is a 29-year-old with 20 years of experience in the food industry. She is the co-founder of Erva Brew Co., a Los-Angeles based yerba mate company currently specializing in cold-brewed yerba mate, and actively looking for a space to expand their menu. Visit their pop-up through the end of September at the Chinatown Kiosk – 727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012, and follow along on social media at @drinkerva.