Yerba mate, or Ilex paraguariensis, has been anciently used in ceremony and referred to as “the drink of the Gods” by Guarani natives in Paraguay. It has certainly earned its bold title. With golden hues of color, and bright & earthy flavors, yerba mate is sure to get you moving, feeling vital and full of vigor.
From Sluggish to Super-Human
In the herbal world, we refer to the way an herb communicates and interacts with our body as an “herbal action,” and yerba mate is herbal action packed! It is used as a tonic, meaning many can benefit from it with consistent and long-term use. It has bitter qualities, so it supports healthy enzyme production and digestive health. Its ability to support a balanced inflammatory response speaks to its affinity for brain health and overall wellness. Yerba mate supports cognitive function, positive mood, memory and the optimal function of all organs. When our inflammatory response is healthy and balanced, the rest of our body will follow suit. It’s also rich in free radical scavengers, so it helps protect our bodies from outside pollutants and oxidative stress. It contains natural caffeine while leaving behind the acidity found in coffee. It’s lower in caffeine than coffee per serving but it does not skimp out on the energy and stamina support. Yerba mate is all about steady and stable energy, not the buzz and crash energy.
The Story of the Tea
Yerba mate was first used by indigenous Guarani of South America. They used the leaves as currency and drank it as tea for cultural and health reasons. It’s traditionally enjoyed using a dried gourd as the cup and a bombilla as the special drinking straw. The type of gourd used varies amongst regions, but most of them have the same valuable function - they enhance the flavors of Yerba Mate. The cup is slightly softer on the inside, and this allows for it to absorb and release the rich flavors from the leaf. The bombilla straw has strainer holes on one end, blocking the leafy bits for smooth sips! These mate gourds are still used today, and they really enhance the sipping experience of yerba mate tea. The tea can also be enjoyed chilled and is modernly found canned or bottled as flavored and energizing beverages. The benefits are also available in other forms. Yerba mate is found in capsules and tinctures to be taken as a supplement. The tincture captures its famous flavors and can be added to hot water for a tea like experience.
Yerba mate trees need moist air and nutrient rich soil to grow. They naturally grow in southern countries in South America but have also been introduced in Hawaii. The fruit that grows on the tree is a small red berry, similar in appearance to a cranberry. The leaves are longer in shape and vibrantly green with serrated edges. For consumption, the dried leaf is used. There are few ways to prepare the leaf. It’s been traditionally harvested and then dried over a wood fire (smoked) or air dried (unsmoked). Either process will slightly alter the flavor of the leaf, but the leaf will still contain all of the beneficial constituents that support our bodies and our mind.
If you’re interested in trying yerba mate tea out of the mate gourd, you can easily purchase one online, and here is how to do it:
- Fill a yerba mate gourd ⅔ with loose yerba mate.
- Tap the loose yerba mate to one side to create a pit.
- Moisten the pit with cool water.
- Insert a bombilla straw into the pit.
- Pour small amounts of hot water at a time into the pit.
- Sip and enjoy!
Rebecca Younger is passionate about herbs and women's health. She aspires to plant seeds of inspiration within her community about plant medicine and healthier ways of life. She studied Herbal Medicine at Herbalism Roots in Denver and is a certified Doula through the Matrona Foundation. She is the customer journey lead at WishGarden Herbs.
For educational purposes only.This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.