Yerba Mate

Enjoy the benefits of Yerba Mate!

Mate is a delicious and nutritious infusion made from the leaves of Ilex Paraguariensis, a tree that only grows in subtropical regions of South America.

About the origin of Mate

About the origin of Mate

Mate is an infusion from South America, popular in places like Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay. To comprehend its current meaning, it is essential to be familiar with its history.

The Guaraní and their yerba

Mate consumption goes back to the Guaraní people (natives of varied South American regions), as demonstrated by the research carried out by journalist Amaro Villanueva. They used to simply chew the leaves or put them in a gourd with water, and then have sips. Actually, the name “Mate” derives from the Guaraní “Caa-mate”, “caa” meaning plant, grass, and “mate” referring to the gourd. Other groups of people such as the Incas, the Charruas or the Araucanos adopted Mate from the Guaraní. For the indigenous people, the Mate plant was a sacred present granted by the gods, and Mate had a unique, spiritual meaning, apart from its nutritional benefits.

Popularity during colonial times

Thanks to its properties, Mate soon grew popular among the Spaniards that colonised South America. The Yerba was carried from its place of origin all through the area under Spanish control and, above all, the Jesuits were the ones who extended the use of Mate by making use of it in their reductions. However, they drank boiled Mate and did not use a gourd. Moreover, they discovered that Mate plantes germinates uniquely in certain places of South America - a secret later proved by the French botanist Aimé Bonpland.

The “gauchos” and their love for yerba mate

Throughout the long process of Argentina’s independence in the XIX century, the habit of Mate gathered momentum in its folklore. The “gauchos” (something like Argentine cowboys) adopted the drink as part of their culture, alongside horseback riding and wearing leather pieces of clothes. They had Mate in groups during the meals of the day, as well as before going to bed.

Yerba mate, nowadays

Yerba Mate is grown in Argentina, Paraguay, southern Brazil, where the soil, temperature and wetness conditions are optimal. The infusion is part of the everyday routine of an average Argentine, the same as it was for those old gauchos. It is drunk at home, at the office or university, in the park, not only due to its virtues, but also for the social bonding role it plays.

How to prepare a good mate tea

How to prepare a good mate tea

Preparing Mate (“cebar”, in Spanish) involves a few techniques and tricks to make sure we get the best results. On this occasion, Valeria Trapaga, sommelier specialising in Yerba Mate, explains everything you should know about how to prepare a Mate like a pro.

The quality of the Yerba Mate

Firstly, we need to use good-quality Yerba Mate for our infusion, as this will affect its flavour, texture and aroma. To recognise high-quality Yerba, we should use all our five senses. The Yerba must have a yellowish green colour, and there should be harmony among its elements: dust, leaves, chips, fibre. When you hold it, Yerba Mate should show dry texture and make a soft, cracking sound. Its smell should be fresh and a bit roasted, while the flavour should have a nice, bitter touch.

An appropriate mate container

When the Mate pot is correctly cured, it absorbs all the properties of the Yerba Mate, while preserving its flavours. As a result, before we begin the tea preparation, we should be certain the gourd we are using is appropriate (it must have a narrow base and a wide mouth), and that it is appropriately cured.

How shall we cure the gourd? We fill it with Yerba Mate, then add hot water and let it sit during the night. In the morning, we should scrape the surface well so as to remove the stems. If needed, repeat the process till it is absolutely clean, and then allow it to dry under the sun.

Steps to make the ultimate Mate:

  1. Fill ¾ of the Mate pot with Yerba.
  2. Place the gourd upside down and shake it to make sure all the elements are evenly blended and distributed.
  3. Little by little, bring the gourd back to its original position, making sure the Yerba is inclined at a 45° angle, forming a tiny hole. Through this hole, pour hot water (at a temperature between 70° and 80°C is advisable), to moisten the bottom part.
  4. Now insert the “bombilla” (straw) by pushing it against the inner wall of the gourd, and try not to move it anymore.
  5. Gently pour the water through the little hole where the straw is.

Ready! You will now have a foaming, strong infusion in which the great flavour of the Yerba stays much longer.

10 great health properties of Yerba Mate

10 great health properties of Yerba Mate

Those who drink tea and coffee might not know that Yerba is much healthier and more advantageous. Below, a brief list of every benefit that makes this infusion a “super drink”:

  1. Yerba has 90% more antioxidants in comparison with green tea. This is shown in its great amount of polyphenols, which better our natural defenses and prevent cell aging.
  2. Mate enhances cardiovascular health as it reduces cholesterol levels and can even prevent atherosclerosis. It also has hypotensive and vasodilatory effects, which are really good for people who suffer from high blood pressure.
  3. Yerba has a natural energising, stimulating effect. It improves our focus, thanks to its proportion of caffeine - also termed “mateína”. This element also encourages the nervous system; therefore, having Mate is ideal before performing physical or intellectual activities. This is why Mate is advisable for athletes as an alternative to commercial drinks.
  4. A further great advantage for athletes: the post workout recovery rate goes up considerably when drinking Yerba Mate. Because of this, it is recommended as a post-exercise drink.
  5. Mate has no fat in it, it is low in calories and sodium. It can be included with ease in the routine of any person who is watching their weight or just following a healthy diet.
  6. Our body needs 13 vitamins, eight of which are in group B. Great news: Yerba Mate is rich in these substances, which are essential for men. Moreover, it has important minerals like potassium and magnesium.
  7. This drink has strong bioactive compounds that can prevent diseases. For instance, it decreases glucose and lipids, thus helping control type 2 diabetes.
  8. This drink also has a diuretic effect, thanks to the fact that it prevents fluid retention and improves kidney function.
  9. It has an effect on stomach and digestive wellbeing by stimulating the production of bile and gastric acids. The benefits of Mate can relieve constipation.
  10. Last but not least , consuming Yerba Mate has a favourable effect on emotional health. Not only does the energy intake function as a natural antidepressant, but since this infusion is normally shared with our loved ones, it helps bring moments of well-being and happiness.