Yerba Mate Tea: What is it + benefits
Yerba Mate: What is it?
Yerba mate is a South American alternative to traditional tea. It has an earthy, grassy taste, and is traditionally re-steeped many times throughout the day, from a gourd, sipped through a metal straw called a bombilla.
When consumed it provides a stimulating effect, a bit like caffeine, but is absorbed into the bloodstream slower, affecting your mind and concentration rather than giving you a physical caffeine kick, so is optimal for keeping a person awake and alert without drinking coffee.
Mate is known for having: “THE STRENGTH OF COFFEE, THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF TEA & THE EUPHORIA OF CHOCOLATE”, said to be energising, invigorating, and rejuvenating. Because if this, it is found in many energy drinks, power bars and chocolate throughout South America.
Yerba Mate: origin
Yerba mate tea comes from the “Ilex Paraguaraiensis” plant, a small tree within the holly bush family, native to the Amazon rainforests of South America.
The Amazonian Ache Guayaki tribe consumed yerba mate for centuries and have long touted it as the “drink of the gods” for its rejuvenating effects and medicinal uses, leading later colonists to refer it as “green gold.”
Yerba mate is and has become the national drink of Argentina, Southern Brazil, Paraguay & Uruguay, and is consumed 6:1 over coffee in these locations.
Yerba Mate: processing
Yerba Mate is grown, harvested and processed similar to regular tea. It also enjoys some similarities in climate to tea, thriving in a humid rainforest environment. There are also different ‘grades’ of yerba mate produced, like tea also.
Traditionally mate was grown in small batches, in the shade under the natural canopy of the rainforest, but its popularity has seen commercial production boom which uses cleared fields in direct sunlight, which allows for faster growth and more industrialised processing.
Processing and harvesting mate is similar to that of green tea. Both the leaves and stems of the plant are picked (as the stems add a slight sweetness to the end product), and are flash heated to preserve the nutrients, then dried at a low temperature (often smoke-dried), and often aged.
Yerba Mate benefits
Mate has been enjoyed for thousands of years for its stimulating benefits due to the naturally occuring caffeine in its leaves. Of the 6 most popular stimulants (coffee, tea, guarana, kola nut & cocoa), mate is known to be the most balanced, as it delivers both energy & nutrition. Because of this it is often used in natural energy food and drinks.
Yerba Mate is also said to increase your bodies thermogenesis (natural rate of calorie burning) and act as a natural diuretic (helps reduce water retention, and to decrease appetite/stave off hunger) which is probably why it is seen as benefitting weight loss.
Just like tea, mate is high in antioxidants and has the added benefit of not containing any tannins so it can never be oversteeped or taste bitter. This is why mate is great for re-steeping.
How to make Yerba Mate
Traditionally Yerba Mate is prepared in a hollowed out seed pod called a Gourd which is topped up with water throughout the day. You would then drink the mate tea through a metal straw that had small holes in the end which act as a strainer, this is called a Bombilla.
However you can make mate tea the 'normal' way if you wish using a tea strainer, an IngenuiTEA or try it in your Cold Brew Bottle. Mate can be consumed hot or cold, with or without milk, and goes well with citrus flavours, spices, and natural sweeteners like honey/maple syrup.
Visit our online yerba mate shop to explore our hand-blended mate teas, mate matcha powder and brewing accessories.