A Tree-Hugging Tea

In yerba mate, Guayakí found a beverage that restores the rain forest by commercializing it

A worker weighs freshly picked shade-grown yerba mate at one of Guayaki's rain-forest-restoration projects in eastern Paraguay. Mate is among the most popular caffeinated drinks in the world.

As a college student in california in the early '90s, Alex Pryor always kept some of his native Argentina with him. His link to home was a beverage made from the leaves of the yerba mate (mah-tay) tree that, cup for cup, provides more than half the caffeinated zap of coffee with fewer jitters and an abundance of antioxidants. As more of his college buddies cozied up to the drink, Pryor saw the glimmer of a business. But the lightbulb moment happened in Paraguay in 1995 when he first spotted a yerba mate tree growing in its ideal habitat--in the shade...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!