In 1616, Hernando Arias de Saavedra, the governor of the Spanish province that included Buenos Aires, banned the population from drinking a green herbal drink called yerba mate.
The governor had seen the region’s indigenous Guaraní people carrying this drink with them everywhere they went. It was a filthy vice, the Spanish had decided. And it was spreading like wildfire among the Spanish colonists — as far away as what is now Bolivia, Chile and Peru.
“All Spaniards, men and women, and all Indians, drink these dusts in hot water,” one dismayed Jesuit priest wrote, lamenting, “And when they don’t have with what to buy it, they give away their underpants and their blankets … When they stop drinking it they fade away and say they cannot live.”
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