What is Yerba Mate?

Mate is a tea-like beverage consumed mainly in the South American countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. It is brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets of the perennial tree Ilex paraguarensis ("Yerba Mate"). The name "Mate" derives fromthe quichua word "matí" that names the gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris) that is traditionally used to drink the infusion. The scientific name Ilex paraguarensis was given by the French naturalist and botanist Auguste de Saint Hilaire in 1822. The tree belongs to the family Aquifoliaceae and grows between the parallels 10° and 30° (South) in the Paraná and Paraguay rivers basins. It is a plant typical of the Alto Paraná region, Alto Uruguay region and the north eastern parts of Argentina. It is a tropical or subtropical plant, needing high temperatures, high humidity and up to 1500 mm of annual rain. On average, 300,000 tons of Yerba Mate are produced each year.


What are the Benefits of Yerba Mate?

Yerba Mate is a natural stimulant devoid of side effects and toxicity. An invigorator of the mind and body, a natural source of nutrition, and a health promoter par excellence, Mate deserves the attention of every person interested in optimum health. Yerba Mate was introduced to colonizing and modern civilizations by the primitive Guarani Indians of Paraguay and Argentina. It has seemingly always been the most common ingredient in household cures of the Guarani. In modern Argentina and Paraguay, however, Yerba Mate has become almost pathologically ritualized in a manner reminiscent of coffee and tea abuse in Western and Eastern countries. Among the native Guarani, on the other hand, the natural use of Yerba Mate for healthful purposes has persisted. They use it to boost immunity, cleanse and detoxify the blood, tone the nervous system, restore youthful hair color, retard aging, combat fatigue, stimulate the mind, control the appetite, reduce the effects of debilitating disease, reduce stress, and eliminate insomnia.

How to Drink Yerba Mate?

In Argentina, drinking mate represents a national ritual. The Uruguayans are even more enthusiatic. They bring their mate with them when they go for a stroll!! Mainly consumed at home among friends and family, the dried leaves (yerba) are steeped in a gourd (mate) and the resulting tea is sucked through a metal straw, or bombilla. If you get invited to a yerba mate session, follow these directions and you will look like a pro:

1.      When its your turn, drink until you completely drain the mate (don't move the bombilla around in the yerba—it's seriously bad form.) Notice the satisfying gurgling sound as you hit bottom.

2.      Pass the mate to the designated brewer (cebador), who will probably be reaching for it. The cebador refills the mate with not-quite-boiling water and passes it on in a clockwise circle.

3.     Gracias means "I'm done", so go easy on the politeness if you want to go another round.