HMS Challenger
Home  /  Ilex paraguariensis (Ilex/Aquifoliaceae/Aquifoliales/Magnoliopsida/Tracheophyta/Plantae)



Holding institution:


Moseley HN, 15th June 1876


Open Government Licence

Common name:

Paraguay Tea, Yerba Mate

Scientific name:

Ilex paraguariensis


HMS Challenger (1872-76)

Date Collected:

19 November 1874 - 11 December 1875















Ilex L.


Ilex paraguariensis A.St.-Hil.


Ilex bonplandiana

Station/Area Information

Date collected:

19 November 1874 - 11 December 1875


Valparaiso, Chile


1) Label source: A large bush or small tree native of Paraguay. The tea is made both from wild and cultivated plants, and various qualities according to the localities where it is grown or prepared; that of Paraguay is said to be the most bitter and aromati 2) c of all, and consequently the most esteemed. The mode of gathering and drying the leaves is different from that practised in India and China with ordinary tea. A kind of expedition is formed, consisting of 40 to 50 persons, mounted on mules, and having w 3) ith them a reserve stock of mules and bullocks. On reaching a locality where the trees are abundant often two hundred miles from the place of starting, a small space of ground is cleared, and the soil beaten down with heavy mallets until it is quite hard 4) and level. At the four corners of this space sticks or posts are driven into the ground, and upon these a sort of net, made of strips of hide is stretched; beneath this a fire is lighted and the boughs of the plant with the leaves upon as they are brought 5) from the forest are placed on the net where they are throughly dried - in fact almost scorched but not burnt. These scorched leaves and the small twigs are then reduced to a fine powder in a rude wooden mill, after which they are weighed and put into pac 6) kages for export. Half a bullocks hide is used to form a kind of sack to hold the tea, being first sewn up at the sides. The tea is then rammed in until the sack is quite full, the mouth is sewn up, and the package, which usually weighs from 200 to 250 po 7) unds is left to dry in the sun for a few days during which time it becomes as hard as a stone. The tea is sometimes packed in the skins of other animals and for retail purposes is put up into small paper packets or bags. The bulk of Paraguay tea consists 8) of powdered leaves and twigs some of the kinds are composed solely of the roasted unbroken leaves. Enormous quanities of this tea is consumed in South America - 27000000 pounds being used in the Argentine Rep in 1 year. In the rural districts as well as i 9) n the smaller towns, Yerba as it is called, is considered a regular form of diet, and not like tea in Britain a mere beverage. One form of drinking Yerba is to mix sugar with the decoction until a thick syrup is produced; usual way however, is to place a 10) small quantity of the tea in a cup, pour hot water upon it, and when it cools suck the infusion through tube called a bombilla. The effects of this tea upon the system are similar to that of Chinese tea, though the flavour which is bitter and herby is not 11) agreeable to the English palate.
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