Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog


We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series.

Guayakí brought yerba mate into the international spotlight by bringing it back into the shade.

Steeped in tradition over centuries, yerba mate leaves are harvested from a South American holly plant, ilex Paraguariensis, which naturally thrives in the rainforest shade in regions of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.


Brewed like tea, yerba mate leaves produce an alluring drink touted to provide “the strength of coffee, health benefits of tea and euphoria of chocolate.”

Although it is traditionally shade grown, deforestation has recently led people to begin cultivating yerba mate in full sun, compromising both quality and flavor.

Every sip of fair-trade, organic Guayakí Yerba Mate helps to bring this native plant back to the rainforest.


“Our mission is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of rainforest and create 1,000 living wage jobs by 2020,” says Guayakí Co-Founder David Karr, who partnered with his college friend Alex Pryor from Buenos Aires to establish the company in 1996. “We are achieving that goal sip by sip.”

Originally they set out to protect existing rainforest while also providing fair-wage jobs and a future for many farmers in these regions. But they quickly recognized an even greater opportunity to actually restore parts of the rainforest that had already been destroyed.

Guayakí has already restored more than 40,000 acres, and the more yerba mate people drink, the more rainforest they can rebuild and protect.


To make this tradition even easier to share around the world, Guayakí offers convenient ready-to-drink bottled yerba mate and energy shots in addition to traditional loose-leaf blends and tea bags.

Wondering how much of a difference you can make by sipping yerba mate? Guayakí has a nifty online tool so you can calculate your impact.

Why do you choose to drink Guayakí?

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Chris says …

This is a great product ... and I love the idea that I can save a bit of rainforest with each cup. Thank you for the story and thank you for carrying this awesome product!

anne says …

I am an avid mate drinker and would love to support Guayaki and everything it stands for. However I really dislike the smoky flavor of their loose teas. I actually haven't tried it in several years because of this - have they changed? If not, I wonder if they would consider selling a loose leaf tea that is more like the main-stream mate that is not smoky. I would love to hear any info on this, thanks!

Ryan says …

I love Guayaki! Just got the <a href="http://guayaki.com/product/61/Pre-Columbian-Gourd-Gift-Pack.html">Precolumbian Gourd Gift Pack</a> off of their site.

joepiazza says …

I shop at the Rochester store because the other Whole Foods do not carry unsweetened Guayaki iced teas. Recently the Rochester stores have not had any unsweetened Guayki teas, I wish all the stores carried the unsweetened varieties as everyone does not want to drink sweetened products.

Genevieve says …

I went to school in BsAs and fell in love with Yerba Mate. I love the quality, variety, and conscientious production of Guayaki!

Susan M says …

Love it! First tasted it in 2003 while visiting Buenos Aires and brought home a supply. Love these stories and what a great business venture.

sandra robinson says …

best tea me ever had n its herbal too

Laurie Ohayon says …

Hello, I was wondering if you provide a list of your Kosher items? I know Trader Joes has one and thought you might as well, Thank you so much, Laurie Ohayon

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LAURIE - We don't have a company wide Kosher product list since our products differ. It's best to check with the local store directly where you shop to see if they have a product list.

Rosane says …

I'm from South's Brazil. I saw Guayaki when I was in Vancouver and I visited Whole Foods for the first time. I bought one for try how is the taste and I loved it so much. Cheers!