What is Yerba Mate?
The origin of yerba mate
Yerba mate comes from the leaves of the perennial tree Ilex Paraguariensis, a member of the holly family, native to the Paraguayan jungle. The beverage or tea is produced from its leaves and was considered “the drink of the Gods” among the Guarani people. Yerba mate is also known as mate or maté gets its name from the gourd in which it is traditionally brewed. The word mate comes from the Quechua word “Matí” which means gourd (lagenaria vulgaris). However, in countries where yerba mate is widely consumed, like Argentina and Uruguay it is simply known as yerba.
Yerba mate was originally harvested and consumed by the pre-columbian Guarani people in what is now modern-day Paraguay, Northeast Argentina, and Southern Brazil. It is a tropical or subtropical plant requiring high temperatures, humidity, and about 60 inches of rain per year. It only grows between the tenth and thirtieth parallel (south) and from about 1,300 feet above sea level. Attempts to produce the plant in other regions with the same results has proven unsuccessful. This is why all of the yerba mate available in the U.S. is imported from South America, mainly Brazil and Argentina, which are the top producers and exporters of Yerba mate in the world.
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Yerba mate is one of the most unknown super-foods in the world. It contains the highest amount of nutrients when compared to other plants. The ancient Guarani were right to call it the drink of the Gods!
Yerba mate contains an impressive quantity of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which nourish, invigorate, de-stress, and produce an overall sense of wellness. It also boosts the immune system and promotes balance in the other systems of the body.
Anyone seeking to improve their health or wellness can benefit from adding yerba mate to their health or wellness program.
Learn more about the benefits and properties of yerba mate.
Tips and Testimonials
Every matero has their own way of preparing a good cup of yerba and a story to tell. Please visit our community forum to share your favorite way to enjoy the perfect yerba mate, as well as any of its wonderful health benefits, we would love to hear from you.
A healthier alternative to energy drinks
— Joenee B.
I started drinking yerba mate as a substitute to energy drinks, which helped with my migraines. I not only coped better with my migraines, but my energy levels and focused increased at work.
How to Prepare and Enjoy Yerba Mate
Like chocolate or coffee, yerba mate can be brewed and prepared in many different ways. The challenge for everyone new to yerba mate is to explore the possibilities and discover your favorite way to enjoy this leafy tea. For the seasoned matero the challenge is to continue to perfect their craft while branching out and trying different types and flavors of yerba mate.
In essence there are two main methods for preparing yerba mate: Traditional and Nontraditional.
The traditional method of using a mate (gourd) and bombilla is the most widely used all over the world and it provides both the highest health benefits and the fullest flavor. The traditional method also provides the most nutrients and antioxidants per serving because of the way in which it directly extracts them from the leaves.
Preparing yerba mate using the traditional method is a skill that takes practice and experience. Learning the steps and essential factors needed to prepare yerba mate will be useful as you discover your preferred method of brewing the perfect mate.
Some people take right away to the traditional style of preparing yerba mate and others work their way up to it slowly by first trying nontraditional methods. These nontraditional methods offer a wide variety of options for enjoying yerba mate.
Whether you prefer a hot tea or a cold brew, straight or infused with fruit, sweetened or black, the possibilities are endless. Knowing the ideal ratios of yerba mate and key steps to preparing your brew will help you become your own yerba mate barista!
My love affair with yerba mate began in 2008 when I became a school teacher. As I began teaching, I quickly realized why many of my grade school teachers always carried a mug of coffee. Teaching is physically and mentally draining! I remember going home every day completely worn out and showing up the next day tired.
Naturally, I began to look for something that would give me the boost of energy I needed to get me through the day. Unfortunately, I chose energy drinks as my option. Little by little I became more and more dependant on my daily can of energy booster. I even had a small fridge in my classroom where I would keep my stock.
After a while, I began gaining weight, losing sleep at night, and feeling jittery. I decided I needed to find a natural and healthier alternative, so I began to do some research. My efforts led me to discover the many wonderful health benefits of yerba mate. With my new discovery I started exploring different ways to prepare and drink it. From the first moment I drank yerba mate I felt the invigorating effects of this wonderful plant. My focus increased and lasted, my energy levels were strong, but without a crash, and my stress levels decreased. Energy was not the only benefit I felt, but an overall sense of well being.
Eventually, with the help of a Uruguayan friend I learned to drink yerba mate using the traditional mate (the gourd used as a cup) and bombilla (the metal straw designed to strain the leaves). As I became a yerba mate drinker, I also became a part of a wonderful culture of other yerba mate enthusiasts, known as materos (mah te rows).
Over the years I have traveled many times to several South American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay where yerba mate is an important part of the culture. My travels have taught me a great deal about the various types of yerba mate and what makes them distinctly different. I have learned various ways to brew and enjoy yerba mate, collected tips from the locals, and discovered much about the benefits of this wonderful plant. I have shared my passion and knowledge with many of my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. As a result, many of them have enjoyed the numerous health benefits and unique culture of yerba mate.
In 2018 I decided to start Yerba-love as a way to share information, recipes, and yerba mate with everyone. I hope as I share my knowledge and yerba mate with all who visit Yerba-love.com we will create a virtual community of materos.
Welcome and let's share a cup of yerba mate together!
- Ismar (The Head Matero)