Yerba Mate Taragüi - What is Yerba Mate?
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What is Yerba Mate?

As more and more health properties of Mate are found, this natural beverage from South America is booming all round the globe.

Drinking Argentine Mate

Yerba Mate is a herbal type of tea produced from the leaf of the Ilex paraguariensis – this tree grows uniquely in a few subtropical areas of South America. Yerba has been around for several centuries and reinforced its place as the number 1 beverage for millions of people in Argentina – the world’s top producer – Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil.

However, for a lot of people, especially those outside South America, it might be the first time they hear the phrase “Yerba Mate”. It is time to find a natural drink like no other!

A very special drink

The Yerba Mate infusion is made with the leaves of the Yerba tree from South America that is only found in three countries: Argentina (the world’s top producer), Brazil and Paraguay. After getting dried, grounded and packed, the Yerba leaves can be easily bought in any supermarket, in the producing countries. Nowadays, they are also sold online in many parts of the world.

However, this beverage is prepared in a unique manner. Normally, you need a special cup designed for this (called “Mate”, too). The Mate container comes in many shapes and materials like glass, metal, wood, to name but a few. Even though there are many ways to prepare and consume Yerba Mate, the most popular one is hot Yerba Mate tea.

To make a traditional Mate Tea, the ground leaves get brewed with hot water inside the Mate container. This drink is consumed through a special straw named “bombilla” (also crafted for this purpose), pouring more and more water as you drink. More information about how to brew a good Mate here

Yerba Mate has a herbal and mildly bitter flavour. Some people prefer to add sugar or honey. You can take it hot in winter or cold in summer, and you could even pick a flavoured Yerba Mate according to your personality and taste.

A bit of history: where did Mate come from?

Even though the discovery of Yerba Mate may be credited to the Kaingang ethnic group around 3000 years BC, history recognises the Guaraní people (from the Paraná jungle) as the masters of Yerba and the inventors of its unique preparation method. They used Yerba for nutritional and healing ends, though as a spiritual symbol too. With the arrival of the Spanish people, the popularity of Yerba Mate spread all through the colony. Back then, the Jesuit missionaries were the pioneers in cultivating Yerba Mate, as well as in spreading its consumption. Read more on the history of yerba mate

Till today, every attempt to grow the Yerba Mate tree outside South America has not succeeded. Yerba Mate is still a treasure exclusive to these regions.

Tereré: the summer Mate

Why should you drink yerba mate?

One of the principal reasons why people choose Mate is its stimulant and energising effect, the same reason people enjoy drinking coffee or tea in the morning – though Yerba Mate has indisputable advantages when compared to these beverages. The caffeine in Yerba stimulates the nervous system, increasing concentration and energy. Thus, it is ideal for doing any task in your everyday life.

Apart from that, Yerba is regarded as one of the top, healthiest beverages around the world. Its antioxidant properties protect cells and enhance all body functions. It is a source of vitamins, key minerals and other nutrients which prevent cell damage. Yerba Mate is recognised for containing great virtues, improving the immune system and preventing cardiovascular diseases. And supposing that was not enough, Yerba improves cognitive functions, is an excellent neuroprotector and has detoxifying, diuretic, anti-inflammatory effects.

Overall, Yerba fosters a condition of wellness which improves your life quality. Learn in detail about the innumerable health properties of yerba mate.

Yerba Mate represents culture

La yerba mate es muy versátil y se puede disfrutarApart from its energising power and health properties, consuming Yerba Mate is a social habit and part of the lifestyle in the producing regions. In Argentina, for instance, taking Yerba Mate is an everyday “ceremony” for its people (Yerba is present in 90% of Argentine households). Here, people usually drink Mate in groups and share the same Mate disregarding the number of participants, with one person in charge of serving water and passing the container to every one of the others. Read more about yerba mate in Argentina. Despite this, in a period of lockdown and social distancing, it is suggested that each person use their own Mate pot and bombilla, though hot water can still be shared! Read more about having yerba mate in lockdown.

In Uruguay, Yerba is also regarded as the national beverage. Uruguayans consume hot, bitter Yerba Mate infusions at any time of day, anywhere they go, and for the most part, individually, and everybody has their own Mate kit. The Mate pots here are bigger, and Yerba with no stem is preferred.

In Paraguay, Yerba is yellow and the infusion is principally made as “tereré”, a Guaraní beverage prepared with Yerba Mate, cold water and extra herbs. In the Southern part of Brazil, they have their own kind of Yerba (greener, always bitter) and it is called chimarrão. In Brazil, consuming Yerba Mate is also seen as a form of social interaction as in Argentina, though many also drink it in an individual way all day long.

So what started like a native ceremony remains valid and unchangeable. Nowadays, Yerba Mate is the beverage of choice for millions, and that figure continues to grow thanks to the countless scientific studies which support its several benefits.

Drinking Yerba Mate infusion

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