Yerba Mate Boasts the Euphoria of Chocolate

Yerba mate cup of tea | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Tea is My Cup of Tea

Don’t you love it when you come across a new favorite at Trader Joe’s?  If you’re bored with the herbal teas you have at home, consider giving Yerba mate a try. It comes in a cute little paper bag and the health benefits are mind blowing. Who knew you could get all those antioxidants from a tasty little cup of tea? Add a little milk for a creamy, woodsy beverage you could easily sip on all day long.

Yerba mate tea in gourd cup | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Daniel Horacio Agostini

Yerba Mate Has a History

Although the tea may be somewhat new in the US, it has been around since the 16th century. Yerba mate was a beverage consumed by indigenous people in Southern Brazil and Paraguay.  Also known as chimarrão or cimarrón, it is translated from Spanish to mean “gourd herb”. Those crafty indigenous people hollowed out a mate gourd to use as a cup for the tea. Makes sense! Traditional mate cups keep that same gourd-like shape and are generally made out of wood which compliments the taste. You can find handmade sets that include the special straw (bombilla) on Amazon for around $30.

Artwork of Yerba mate cups | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: dewdropzgarden via Tumblr

Did Someone Mention Chocolate?

A species of the holly family, Yerba mate is touted to be more nutritious than green tea. 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.” Guayaki,
one of the most popular brands of the tea, also makes a strong claim. “Yerba mate has the ‘strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate’ all in one beverage.” You had me at hello! They use the six common stimulants of coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa and guarana as a comparison. Mate trumps these in balance, as it delivers both energy and nutrition.

Yerba mate tea and gourd cups with bombilla straws | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Mowielicious

Say No to the Mid-Day Crash

Coffee is great, but it’s benefits can sometimes be short-lived. Yerba mate has less than 80 milligrams of caffeine (coffee has 100 – 200 milligrams per cup). This makes you less jittery and less likely to crash after drinking it. Enough to keep you going without making you pay a couple of hours later.

Yerba Mate cup + health benefits | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Cascada Expediciones

Vitamins + Minerals

Like green tea, Yerba mate contains antioxidants, which helps with weight loss and lowering cholesterol (aka heart disease). It 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 (Ilex paraguariensis) health benefits | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: The Herbal Resource
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Make a Matte Latte

Yerba mate tastes very similar to your typical green tea, but is a little heavier, which I like.  I usually drink teas plain, but I do enjoy a little vanilla almond milk in my mate. When I want it even creamier, I substitute the almond milk for a small dollop of heavy cream.  Adding a little creaminess takes care of a coffee craving, if you’re dying for a warm drink and no sugar.  If sugar is not a problem, you can also add a little honey if you’d like to sweeten it up a bit. Renee from Will Frolic for Food has a tasty recipe for a Macadamia Yerba Mate Latte that I also highly recommend. Topped with coconut cream and cinnamon, this yummy latte can get addictive quickly!

Macadamia Yerba Mate Latte recipe | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Will Frolic For Food

Loosey-Goosey

Trader Joe’s mate comes in convenient tea bags, but nothing beats the taste of loose-leaf mate. Teavana has a small selection of loose-leaf mate; I highly recommend the Maharaja® Chai / Samurai Chai Tea Blend if you like ginger and cloves. The mate / chai tea blend is excellent as a latte, as it softens the flavors of the strong spices. Be sure to strain the tea before serving, unless you are using a traditional bombilla. (I forgot to mention the bottom of the special straw has a built in filter.)

Teavana Yerba mate chai tea blend | Girlfriend is Better
Photo courtesy: Teavana

Stay Fit For Summer

Now that it’s swimsuit season, it’s time to lighten up the diet a little. We learned in our caffeine on the outside article that the stimulant can be quite dehydrating. If you need a pick-me-up, opt instead for a version that offers a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds as well. You’ll find yourself with more energy consistently through the day and you might even lose a little weight, thanks to those antioxidants. Happy sipping and let us know if you have any great mate recipes to share.

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