Yerba mate has been increasing in popularity over the past few years. If you haven’t tried out this herb, ask for a sample with your next order, we’ll include it for free until the end of August 2018.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is a caffeinated herb found in South America, most popular in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It has been consumed in these regions for 500 years and continues to be the beverage of choice, outpacing coffee sales 6 to 1. It grows on a shrub closely related to holly.
It is traditionally a social beverage and a symbol of hospitality. It is said that by sharing the gourd, it brings people closer together. The host will drink the first infusion from the gourd to ensure the yerba mate is ready and the right temperature. The first few sips also have a few pieces of yerba mate get through the straw. Each person will drink the entire gourd full, then pass the gourd back to the host to be refilled for the next person to drink. This continues in a circle until the mate has lost it’s strength of flavour, or has become flat.
Yerba mate has an acquired taste. The flavour is woodsy, grassy, earthy, and depending on the lot and variety, may have subtle notes of fruits, citrus, floral, nutty, herbaceous, smoke, chocolate, hay. Many people grow to enjoy the flavour, but start out drinking it just for the health benefits. Scroll down to learn about the health benefits.
If you don’t like the flavour right away, fear not! There are several ways to enjoy yerba mate and balance the flavours.
- Drink it iced: Prepare yerba mate using one of our recommended tea infusion methods.
- Add fruits: When infusing it hot or cold, add fresh cut fruits for natural flavour and sweetness.
- Add sweetener: Generally, we like to find ways to sweeten naturally. Try adding a bit of licorice root to your infusion. If that doesn’t work for you, use your favourite sweetener to bring the brew to a flavour more palatable for you.
- Add other herbs: We mentioned licorice root above, you can also try peppermint, cacao nibs, cinnamon, or your other favourite flavourful herbs/spices.
Yerba mate is prepared in a gourd made from the fruit of the calabash plant. It is prepared using hot water, not boiling. Hot water will make the leaves bitter and unpleasant tasting, plus you risk cracking your gourd if using one. The bombilla (a straw, generally with a filter) is placed inside the gourd, then the gourd is filled 2/3 full with mate leaves. The hot water is poured on top of leaves and drank
- Before adding water or the straw, cover the gourd with your palm and flip the gourd upside down and give it a gentle shake. This will bring the smaller particles to the top, and the larger pieces to the bottom, meaning fewer leaves get into the straw.
- Tilt the mate to one side of the gourd, creating a slight mound on one side and hollow area on the other.
- Pour a small amount of cold water at the bottom of the gourd in the hollow area, careful not to touch the top leaves. This will:
- Place the straw on top of the mound.
You can also make yerba mate the same way you would a cup of tea! Just infuse 1 heaping teaspoon in 8-10oz hot water for 3 minutes. Adjust the proportions and/or timing to taste.
The good stuff. Why do people work to enjoy yerba mate, instead of just having a tea or coffee?
Yerba mate contains caffeine, called mateine. It provides a smooth, sustained release of caffeine, resulting in a more balanced energy boost than coffee offers. Those who drink yerba mate report feeling alert, wakeful and focused.
Yerba mate has a wide range of nutrients and minerals present. It is rich in phytonutrients, polyphenols and antioxidants. The concentration of these in each serving is small, but continued use could lead to improvements in overall health.
Saponins are compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been linked to boosting the immune system.
Probably the benefit that made yerba mate as popular as it is today. The stimulating properties, digestive aid and reduction in appetite could help aid in weight loss.
Speaking of digestive aid, yerba mate has been traditionally used to treat constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion.
It’s antibacterial properties help to destroy internal parasites, including E. coli. It may also prevent the growth of a fungus responsible for scaly skin and dandruff.
Another traditional use is to increase sex drive in men. It is also used to enhance fertility in women.
Preserves bone density:
Recent studies have shown that yerba mate can actually preserve or even in some studies improve bone density by as much as 9% higher density than those in the same studies who did not drink yerba mate. This is surprising, since caffeine is linked to a loss in bone density.
Anti-cancer, heart health:
As with most teas, yerba mate has been linked to cancer prevention and improved heart health.
Yerba mate for your business
Yerba mate is both traditional and trendy, but is not commonly found in food service or cafes. Adding this to your menu could attract new customers as well as give existing customers something unique and exotic to try. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn more about how this product can fit in to your current tea offerings, tips on promotion and how to use yerba mate in cooking.