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What Is Yerba Mate? And Why You Should Be Drinking It!

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate seems like it’s the new trend emerging in the health community recently. It comes after Matcha and açaí bowls and it’s getting a new hype quite quickly. And I’m totally on board on this.

Yerba Mate [ˈɟʝeɾβa ˈmate] or Mate [ˈmate] (in Spanish), Tereré/Tererê & Chimarrão [ʃimɐˈʁɐ̃w̃] (in Brazilian Portuguese) are variants of the same tea.

To me, Yerba Mate is a lot more than just a hype though. And I’ll explain why. As most of you already know, I’m from Brazil. The south bit of Brazil, more specifically, a not very popular part of the home of Carnaval… We, from the South, inherited some customs that are often times more similar to the ones from our neighbours Uruguay and Argentina. But what has to do with mate? I’ll get to that…

But What Is Yerba Mate?

In the southern area of South America around Uruguay, Argentina, some parts of Chile, Paraguay and Brazil, the indigenous people that lived there used to drink the tea that is made from Ilex Paraguariensis tree. The tea was powerful and it had a great source of energy and rejuvenating properties. Therefore, it was adopted by the people that invaded the region (the Spanish) and was introduced to their culture. Since those days, mate or chimarrão as we call it in Brazil is a staple in our everyday lives.

Yerba Mate - The Utensils

A cuia (the recipient) & the bomba (the straw).

Preparing a Mate or Chimarrão involves technique (almost like preparing the traditional matcha tea in the Japanese culture), as there are more than 100 ways to assemble it. You start by pouring the ground tea leaves in a recipient called cuia, then adding the bomba or bombilla (the straw used to sip the tea) and then the hot water (never boil the water, otherwise it will burn the tea and leave a bitter taste to it). The water is kept in a thermos or by the fire to keep it hot while serving.

Yerba Mate

Preparing the Mate

And Why You Should Be Drinking It!

It is proved that the tea Ilex Paraguariensis has plenty of great health benefits. It acts as a stimulant, diuretic, improving the immune system (great for the cold weather in the region), accelerating the metabolism, helping with digestion, lowering bad cholesterol and even aiding in weight loss. Plus it contains more than 24 vitamins and minerals. It is said that mate is more nutritions than green tea.

And as many are saying: Mate has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the euphoria of chocolate. What’s not to love?

I remember having my family coming together at the end of the day or in the early morning for a couple of rounds of Chimarrão. This popular drink in South America and now in the rest of the world is more than just a drink, if I may explain. It’s a custom, a tradition.

When you drink Mate, you drink more than tea. If you drink it with others, you prepare one tea and using a thermos, you pour hot water and share it with the others in the circle. We engage in conversation and dialogue, we create ties with each other and develop friendships. They say, that when you have your first mate by yourself, you have grown up and are ready to take on life’s big responsibilities. Sort of like a rite of passage in our culture.

Maybe that’s why we love and brag so much about mate and its great health and social benefits. Hence, why I still drink it here even though I’m thousands of kilometres away from my homeland.
Mate is definitely more than just a drink, indeed.

Yerba Mate - Why Should You Drink It

Have you tried it yet? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

Peace & Love,

Larissa x

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah
    05/02/2017 at 4:31 am

    Hi what is the best yerba mate to drink?

    • Reply
      Larissa Tedesco
      05/02/2017 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Sarah! It depends. Back home I drink the original type of Yerba Mate which is literally a tea served with hot water in a typical ‘cuia’. It’s everywhere but is consumed pure and the tea is not mixed with anything else. Plus you can’t buy the drink itself anywhere, you buy the herb (tea) in the supermarket or local market and make it at home. If you are to buy bottled versions, look for those without sugar or any other additives. Where are you based?

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