Yerba Mate: a complete guide on mate tea with everything there is to know about it.
You are seeing more and more people who have started to drink Yerba Mate: friends, your colleagues at work, celebrities, sportsmen… and now you are wondering what is Yerba Mate and what is it good for. Everyone in your circle is talking about it and now you’ve became curious and think if you are missing out on the mate tea benefits.
Yerba Mate tea has been around for many centuries and now it’s time for you to learn more about this traditional South American infusion and what it can do for you.
In this post we’ll cover all the basics you need to know: from what is Yerba Mate, where it comes from, how to prepare it in the traditional way and some curious facts about mate tea.
After you have learnt everything there is to know about and want to give it a try, you can find It available at our store.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate tea is a naturally caffeinated infusion made from the dried leaves of the Holly Tree (Ilex Paraguariensis) that grows in South America. It is considered the national drink of countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, and believe it or not, it is drank more than water.
For hundreds of years the locals have been drinking the dried leaves steeped in hot water and benefiting from its properties. An infusion rich in caffeine, high in antioxidants and plenty of vitamins and mineral make yerba tea an excellent choice for a healthy drink.
What are the benefits of Yerba Mate?
If you are asking yourself what is Yerba Mate good for, there are plenty of health benefits of Yerba for you to consider trying this wonderful infusion.
The most common benefit of yerba mate tea is the increased awareness and mental focus that it gives to your mind. This is delivered by the mateina contained in– a sort of caffeine – which is know to keep you sharp and awake.
The mate drink is a good stimulant for your mind but as well for your body. More and more, people are trading their energy drinks and choosing yerba mate as a pre workout drink to get ready for their training. Coincidentally, many energy drinks in the market use Yerba Mate extract to achieve their stimulating effects.
Another Yerba Mate health benefit comes from the high presence of antioxidants which are good to fight free radicals agents in your body. This means it helps your body fight the ageing process.
The rich soil where yerba mate grows gives it a wide range of vitamins and minerals to boost up your metabolism.
Weight loss is another associated effect of yerba mate as it has a diuretic effect on the body as well as reducing your appetite while drinking it.
If you want to learn more in detail about the different mate tea benefits, we have written a separate post talking more in details about all these benefits and some additional ones that are sometimes not so known.
Where does Yerba Mate tea come from?
The Yerba Mate plant grows in the tropical Atlantic rainforests, more specifically in north-east Argentina, Paraguay and the South of Brazil. it is harvested from the Holly Tree, Ilex Paraguariensis, by the local farmers.
This tree needs particular conditions to grow. One of them is the subtropical climate with high humidity.
Another one is the type of soil in which it grows. In the regions of Argentina where it grows, especially in the province of Misiones, the soil is of a bright red color due to the high levels of iron present in it. That’s why Misiones is usually called “Tierra Colorada”, the Red Land.
We invite you to view our trip we did through the Ruta de la yerba mate (yerba mate route), where you can see the characteristic color of the soil and how yerba mate is produced.
A fun fact is that even though Uruguay has the highest consumption per capita of Yerba Mate tea, it is not harvested there. The Yerba Mate brands that you find in Uruguay come from Brazil. This is sometimes confusing as the Uruguayans are well known for always having their mate and thermos with them in any situation.
In these countries where yerba mate origins people tend to drink it more than coffee or black tea.
It is chosen not only as an energizing drink but preferably for its social properties. Walk the streets of Buenos Aires or Montevideo and it will be common to see people carrying their mate or sharing a mate drink with their friends.
What is in Yerba Mate tea?
Yerba tea contains three main items: leaves, stems and dust. All of them harvested from the yerba mate plant, Ilex Paraguariensis. The concentration of each of these parts is what is commonly known as a blend.
Every yerba mate producer has its own mate blend – or secret formula – that make their product unique. Whether they want to have a stronger and more bitter blend or just a softer version, they will be adjusting the size of the leaves and twigs present.
The time of the year when they harvest the leaves will also be making a difference in the final product. Harvesting yerba tea during the summer months usually means a slightly higher caffeine content and intensive blend.
Currently there are over 130 different types of yerba mate with new blends being introduced often. Nowadays you can find flavoured yerba mate with additional ingredients, like fruits and herbs, closer in taste to your usual herbal tea.
What does Yerba Mate taste like?
Before we can say what how Yerba mate tastes we need to go back one step and talk about the different processes the dried leaves go through before they are packed.
There are two main processes in the production of yerba mate drink that will influence its taste.
First step would be the grounding of the raw leaves. Each producer receives the loose leaves from the farmers (yerbateros) and cuts them into their specifications. In general terms, a bigger cut means a softer taste.
However, we need to consider the second process which is the drying, or ageing, of these cut leaves. Here is where we have the main difference between Brazilian erva mate (chimarrao) and traditional yerba mate.
Brazilian Yerba mate is not aged which makes it of a bright green color. It will taste grassier and fresher.
Opposite, in Argentinean or Paraguayan yerba mate will be aged for a few months. This will give a more herbal flavor with bitter notes.
Yerba tea can also be blended in with extra ingredients to slightly change its taste. For example, a popular one is yerba mate with orange which will taste a lot fresher and sweeter than the traditional blend. TIP: fruit yerba mate makes for great Terere – cold brewed yerba mate.
There are also plenty of variations of herbal yerba mate. Here you will find ingredients like mint, pennyroyal, chamomile and many more. Enjoy your favourite herbs while you are sipping Yerba Mate drink.
Testing the different types of Yerba Mate can be very fun with over 100 options to choose from in our shop.
Who can drink Yerba Mate Tea?
Yerba mate tea is an infusion that can be enjoyed by everyone. If you are on a keto, gluten fee or vegan diet, you can also drink mate. It is 100% plant based and an excellent alternative to coffee or green tea.
Due to its content of mateine a lot of people drink it to feel energized. Yerba mate gives you a boost in your energy levels and helps you focus.
It’s very popular among athletes looking for an extra edge in their trainings. Entrepreneurs who need some boost to keep them focused at their projects are also big mate enthusiasts.
Independent from this, in South America yerba mate is a national drink. A large part of the population drinks it daily, so we don’t want to restrict who should enjoy it. However, be aware of the side effects that the caffeine content can have on you.
We encourage everyone to give it a try and decide if it’s the proper beverage for you.
How to make Yerba Mate?
If you want to learn how to drink Yerba mate we have prepared a complete guide with all the steps to prepare the best mates.
To brew yerba mate tea in the traditional way you will need a mate gourd, a bombilla (straw), hot water and of course the main ingredient: yerba mate.
- – Fill your mate cup with 3/4 parts of dried leaves
- – Cover the mate and shake it forming a 45 degree slope
- – Add lukewarm water to soak the leaves and then introduce the bombilla
- – Pour hot water (75-80 degrees), not boiling, and start drinking it!
- – Drink and repeat the previous step
Check also our guide on how to prepare Yerba Mate with detailed instructions, photos and video so you can understand the basics. There are a few tips that will sure help you get the best results.
Ronda del Mate – Yerba Mate Culture
An important aspect of mate in South America is that its more than just an infusion. it is considered a social drink.
You will usually hear Argentinians say “let’s go for some mates”, meaning sipping mate is an excuse (or the reason) to get together and share a moment.
This is what’s known as the “ronda del mate”. One person, the Cebador, will be in charge of preparing it and passing the gourd around so that everyone can drink from it.
The Cebador has a very important role here. He needs to keep the mate flow going ensuring it keeps its taste and temperature. Being called an excellent Cebador sure is a great achievement in Argentina.
We hope that you have enjoyed and discovered more about this fabulous infusion that we love so much. Let us know in the comment section what you think about it and welcome to the “ronda del mate”.
Remember that in our store you can buy all types of Yerba Mate and accessories needed to get you started with our favourite beverage!