Yerba Mate is a tea that is a very popular social drink in some South American countries. It is often referred to as the “drink of the gods”. It is said to have the same energy benefits of coffee. Though with many other health benefits that coffee lacks and is consumed to enhance clarity and well being. The most common form you will find yerba mate in is a bag filled with loose leaf dried and ground tea. It can also be purchased in Yerba Mate Tea Bags for easier brewing. However, the loose leaf tea can be brewed in a coffee pot with a good filter.
The traditional drinking of yerba mate is in a gourd with a silver straw called a bombilla. The cup or gourd is passed around and shared among close friends and family. Everyone uses the same gourd and bombilla to drink from. Being asked to join someone in sharing their cup of yerba mate is considered an honor and a sign of friendship. Traditionally the host drinks the first cup. Then after adding more water to the gourd, passes it to the next person in line to drink from the gourd.
The yerba mate tea has a very distinct flavor and taste and for most, is an acquired taste. While some might say that having to acquire a taste makes it less appealing, the touted benefits of yerba mate are said to make the process worthwhile. It is said that drinking this tea can be a form of meditation. It allows stimulation of the mind while infusing the body with positive energy and immune boosting properties. Yerba mate contains vitamins and minerals, amino acids, polyphenols, caffeine, and is very high in antioxidants.
Yerba mate is very similar to green tea and has even more powerful antioxidant properties. It has been said to strengthen natural defenses and protect against cellular destruction. Thus possibly containing an “anti-cancer” effect. The list of other possible benefits one could obtain from drinking an infusion of yerba mate tea include are many. Such as increased energy, better mental clarity and focus, mood improvement, digestive aid, increased calorie burn during exercise, decreased appetite, allergy relief and deeper sleep. Not to mention, the possible reduction of the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Most yerba mate drinkers will agree that the tea has the ability to increase mental focus and provide sustainable energy. Some studies have shown that caffeine sensitive subjects were able to drink yerba mate without the harder side effects caused by caffeine. Yet still main the energy promotional benefits. Some have also suggested that the yerba mate tea contains substances which fight bad breath by preventing growth of bacteria. It has also been used by indigenous people in some areas of South America as a digestive aid to treat gastrointestinal disorders.
Though traditional drinkers of yerba mate still adhere to the ritual form of gourd and bombilla drinking, the wonderful health benefits of this tea are not lessened by a more modern style of preparation. The tea can be made into iced form. Or enjoyed as one would enjoy their morning cup of coffee. Some may wish to add honey or sugar to sweeten the taste. Though a true yerba mate enthusiast might scoff at that addition and consider any man drinking it this way, less of a man for doing so. I find that adding a bit of lemon to mine rendered it a bit more palatable. I’m not threatened by the scorn of adding sugar and intend to do just that on my next try!