Yerba Mate is quickly displacing coffee as the morning drink of choice for many. Due to its far superior list of health benefits, addictive qualities and great versatility, it has managed to find its way into many homes and supermarkets all over the world.
YERBA MATE HAS A TON OF HEALTH BENEFITSAlthough yerba mate contains as much caffeine as coffee, it is far more balanced as an herb. For starters, it has more antioxidants and polyphenols than any tea-based or non tea-based beverage. Antioxidants have been known to neutralize the damage done to the body by free radicals and thus slow down the aging process. Yerba mate has 90% more antioxidants than green tea, long thought to be the leader in antioxidants. It also contains 15 Amino acids, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Zind, Carotene, fatty acids and chlorophyll. But the health benefits of yerba mate don’t stop there. It also contains vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B5. It contains the mood elevating compound theobromine, found in tea and chocolate which many people credit for its addictive taste.
Yerba Mate has been shown to boost physical and mental performance. It delivers about as much caffeine as coffee without the jitters or the crash after. It increases your short term energy as much as coffee, with virtually none of the negative side effects. In a recent study, men and women that took a 1 gram capsule of yerba mate burned 24% more fat during moderate-intensity exercise.
Yerba Mate may also help prevent infections from bacteria, parasites and fungi. One study found that taking a high dose of yerba mate deactivated E. coli, which is the bacteria known to cause stomach cramps. It may also prevent the growth and spread of Malassezia furfur, which is the fungus responsible for dandruff.
YERBA MATE CAN HELP YOU GET IN SHAPEYerba mate can also help you get in better shape. It can increase your athletic performance, reduce your appetite and boost your metabolism. It has also been shown to increase the amount of fat that is burned for fuel. Yerba mate also contains saponins, which are naturally occurring components with anti-inflammatory properties. Along with the host of vitamins and minerals included in yerba mate, researchers believe that yerba mate can strengthen your immune system.
If that all wasn’t enough, yerba mate may also improve insulin signaling and blood sugar control as well as reduce your risk of heart disease. While many of these claims have been studied, there is still not nearly as much research done on yerba mate as there is on coffee and tea.
So, in summary, yerba mate has as much caffeine as coffee, it is as addictive as chocolate and it is healthier than any tea. What more could you ask for? In addition to being a powerhouse of nutrients, yerba mate is also steeped in history. When adventurer Sebastian Gabato sailed up the Parana river in South America, he believed that he would find the fabled world of El Dorado, the land of gold and silver. Although he did not find the golden treasure he was looking for, he did encounter the Guarani people, a tribe of native Americans that offered he and his men food and shelter. These people were well built, vigorous and healthy. When asked what their secret was, the Guarani people showed them the infusion they had made from hot water and the leaves of the Caa bush. Immediately the European adventurers were taken by the drink, and sought to cultivate the plants all over South America. The benefits of the plant were so widely touted, that the Jesuits condemned it as having demonic powers. The drink was so powerful, they saw it as an affront to God and had to forbid its consumption. They eventually embraced the beverage, and now the drink has become incredibly popular in South America and just beginning to take off in North America and Europe.
YERBA MATE HAS A RICH CULTUREYerba mate is a staple in Paraguayan and Argentine culture. The drink is often passed around among friends and re-steeped many times. They also call it the drink of friendship. Anyone who shares yerba mate with you is considered to be your friend. Of course like with most traditional customs, there is a ritualized way to consume this magical beverage. First, you will need to get a gourd. I know that may sound weird, but it is the best way to drink yerba mate. It has always been drunk out of a hollowed out, cured gourd (calabash) for centuries and this is a great way to pay homage to the yerba mate tradition. Here is a nice one from Guayaki, a Yerba Mate company dedicated restoring the Rainforest.
This one is good quality and from a trusted source, but it also helps support a cause. The company Guayaki puts some of their profits towards regrowing and stewarding 200,000 acres of Amazon rainforest. I personally support this cause, so I try to give them business wherever possible.
In addition to a gourd, you will also need a bombilla. This is a fancy word for a metal straw that is used to drink the infusion directly without getting any of the leaves in your mouth. These are the bombillas that I use. They look stylish and they work great:
Of course the most important part of this is the leaves themselves. I recommend getting a brand with a lot of stems. With yerba mate, all of the caffeine and nutrients actually comes from the stems of the plant. Although I love the company Guayaki, I found that their yerba mate contains mostly leaves. For the past 2 years I have been drinking Cruz de Malta instead. It is robust, authentic and it is by far the most inexpensive I have found. If you do it right, you can get yerba mate for about the same price as cheap coffee. Here is the one that I get
YERBA MATE IS FUN TO PREPARETo prepare the drink itself properly, there is some work that needs to be done as well. The first step is to fill up your gourd about 2/3 of the way with yerba mate leaves. I know this is a lot and it was the biggest surprise for me the first time I tried it. The drink provides only a few sips at a time but it is good for many, many steepings. After you have packed your gourd, put your hand on top and shake it, this brings the large stems to the bottom so that the smaller stems and leaves don’t get in your bombilla. Next, you can place your bombilla in all the way to the bottom and fill the rest of the gourd with 185-degree water. This tea is ready to drink right away so don’t feel as if you need to steep it. You should try to add more water at least a few times so you get your money's worth out of the leaves.
Although this preparation process may seem unusual, I think you will find that it’s part of the fun with yerba mate. Yerba mate gives you the chance to try something that is different and exotic. I hope you enjoyed this segment on yerba mate. This is probably the tea I’ve been drinking the most consistently (almost everyday for the past 2 years) and it is very important to me. I’m glad I was able to share this magical herb with you today. Please let us know about your experience with yerba mate in the comments section below. I’ll see you next time!