I was at Trader Joe’s this weekend looking for a new tea to try. I am in the midst of swearing off coffee and am a little bored with the herbal teas I have on hand. I came across a cute paper bag with big green leaves and little white flowers drawn on it that read ‘Organic Yerba Mate’. I turned to the back of the bag to learn more. “Hailing from the 16th century, Yerba mate was a beverage consumed by indigenous people in Southern Brazil and Paraguay. Translated in Spanish, it means ‘gourd herb’ because they drank it from hollow gourds.”
Unsatisfied by the history lesson, I quickly did a search on my phone to learn more. I wasn’t really wanting to get the alternative (a box of peppermint tea) and was hoping I could get more of a flavor idea. The initial Google blurb grabbed my attention immediately:
“Yerba mate has the ‘strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate’ all in one beverage.”
!!! Excited about the mention of chocolate, I dug a little deeper to learn more about the so-called “health benefits”. A species of the holly family, Yerba mate is touted to be more nutritious than green tea. According to the Guayaki website, studies by French scientists in 1964 concluded, “it is difficult to find a plant any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value.”
Yerba mate contains small amounts of the following:
Minerals: Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc
Additional Compounds: Carotene, Fatty Acids, Chlorophyll, Flavonois, Polyphenois, Inositol, Trace Minerals, Antioxidants, Tannins, Pantothenic Acid and 15 Amino Acids
Theophylline, theobromine, and caffeine
Yerba mate actually has less than 80 milligrams of caffeine which makes you less likely to crash after drinking it (coffee has 100 – 200 milligrams per cup). Like green tea, it contains antioxidants, which helps with weight loss and lowering cholesterol (aka heart disease).
Warning: When I went to the check out at Trader Joe’s, the checker launched into a story about drinking mate and how it had made her stomach hurt so bad she never touched it again. Snap! When she realized I had never tried it before, she quickly assured me that she was from South America and her whole family drank it every day. It was kind of funny interaction. And who knew this beverage was so popular? I am always finding this stuff out and feeling like I live in a black hole. I decided to brave it out and considered my stomach forewarned.
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Later that day, I made my first Yerba mate latte.
Totally hit the spot and hasn’t hurt my stomach at all. I’ve been drinking it at a mellow pace, so I’m not sure if it would have an effect if I was downing it. Go easy with it if you try it, just in case. It was really good! Here’s a little recipe diagram I made for you below:
Yerba mate tastes very similar to your typical green tea, but is a little heavier, which I like. I usually drink teas plain, but kind of a like a little vanilla almond milk or whipping cream in the mate. It officially takes care of my coffee craving that way. The black yerba mate cup from Teavana is on sale for only $3.48 and comes in green too! You’re officially supposed to drink the tea from a mate gourd. Finally, mate cups are gourd-shaped and usually come with a straw called a bombilla. If you are drinking loose-leaf mate, then the bombilla is nice because it has a filter at the bottom. What a thoughtful straw.