Yerba Mate

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 02. Jul. 2020

This antioxidant-powered tea has exploded in popularity in recent years as an energizing and more healthful alternative to coffee and soda.

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Yerba mate...

  • ...promotes digestion. Yerba mate gets its tart and rather bitter taste from its abundant supply of tannins, which help stimulate digestion, among other benefits.
  • ...wakes you up. Tea made from yerba mate contains more caffeine than black and green tea and even coffee!
  • ...isn't for everyone. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not consume yerba mate. Doctors also advise against consuming it if you have high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, hyperthyroidism or urination problems.
  • ...can have side effects. Yerba mate might not interact well with certain medications including antidepressants, circulatory stimulants and drugs for asthma and cardiac arrhythmia.

What You Should Know About Yerba Mate

Yerba mate has been consumed in South America for centures, but has only taken on in the U.S. in recent years. Today, you can find yerba mate tea in all grocery stores and mant coffee shops as well. Its naturally high caffeine levels makes it a great alternative to coffee and tea. If you're sensitive to caffeine though, remember not to drink too much.

Origins

The home of the wild yerba bush is mainly in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, where natives began drinking the traditional tea centuries ago. In parts of South America, the preparation and drinking of yerba mate takes place in a ceremony according to rules which haeve been passed down through generations. 

Season

You can buy dried yerba mate all year round.

Flavor

Yerba mate tastes tart, fruity and slightly bitter.

How Healthy is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate's reputation as a nutritional drink is definitely valid, as it contains useful nutrients such as iron, phosphorus, vitamins C and A as well as B vitamins.

Yerba mate can also stimulate the digestion and metabolism and supports nervous system health. In South America, yerba mate has been used for centuries to cure eczema and other skin diseases.

Many people claim that yerba mate can also boost fat burning and reduce appetite, though there is no scientific basis for this yet. However yerba mate is a good option if you are on a diet, as it contains no calories or fat. 

YERBA MATE NUTRITIONAL INFO (dry)  (100 g)  
Calories 248
Protein 24.5 g
Fat 4.4 g
Carbohydrates 0.8 g
Fiber 55.8 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

You can find yerba mate tea in pharmacies, organic shops, tea shops and on the internet. Yerba mate is available fermented, unfermented or even roasted, which adds some spice. Today there are also many mixtures of yerba mate and other herbal teas, spices, fruits and even mate with chocolate. If you're looking for raw yerba mate to make your own homemade tea, try a specialty foods store or online.

Storage

As with any herbal tea, yerba mate is best stored in a dark, dry and tightly closed container.

How to Make Yerba Mate Tea

Brewing yerba mate is a simple matter: pour one liter of hot, but not boiling water over three to five teaspoons of mate, depending on taste. Then, depending on how much you like the tea, let it steep for five to ten minutes and pour it through a sieve.

Many South Americans prefer to drink yerba mate tea unsweetened, although American can often find it too bitter because of the many tanning agents. If necessary, you can simply sweeten your mate with sugar, honey or sweetener.

By the way: ice-cold, slightly sweetened yerba mate tea with sliced oranges and lemons is a perfect summertime drink.

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