Watching the football recently, you may well have seen some of the players drinking an unfamiliar beverage. At first glance, you might be forgiven for seeing a straw in a coconut. This is not so. The likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero have, in fact, been drinking Yerba Mate. This extraordinary high caffeine Herbal Tea has become popular recently because of Yerba Mate benefits.

And it’s not only good for footballers, either. According to the latest scientific research, it can improve everyday life in small yet significant ways. In this article, we will explore the ins, outs, history and health benefits of Yerba Mate.

What is it

What is Yerba Mate?

This Tea (pronounced “Yer-bah-mah-tay”) is the product of a plant that grows predominantly in the South American rainforest. It belongs to the Holy (Aquifoliaceae) family, known by its botanical name of Ilex Paraguariensis. It stands at 6 to 8 metres tall and produces evergreen leaves, small fruit berries and greenish-white flowers.

In Portuguese-speaking countries, it’s called “chimarrão”. In Spanish speaking countries, it’s instead known as “cimarrón”. Although South America is most famous for Coffee, Yerba Mate Tea is the choice-drink of many countries across the continent. In Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, for example, it is the national beverage.

Harvesting of the plant takes place once or twice a year. During this time, workers pick only the youngest, greenest leaves. These leaves are then dried over open fires, which imparts a unique smoky flavour. Following this, they are chopped and ground into a powdery mixture. The largest producing country is Brazil.

When brewed, it has tasting notes reminiscent of smoked wood, tobacco and quality Green Tea with slightly astringent undertones. But that, of course, isn’t all it can offer. When consumed frequently, this beverage comes with Yerba Mate benefits.

Yerba Mate Caffeine

Yerba Mate Caffeine

Yerba Mate combines the energy boost of Coffee, the benefits of Tea and the endorphin buzz of chocolate. We’ll talk about Yerba Mate benefits later. Right now, we’re going to explore why this Herbal Tea can get you out of bed in the morning.

Only around 60 plants naturally contain caffeine. This, of course, includes the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant and the Coffea (Coffee) plant. (You can read more information about “How Much Caffeine in Tea” in our blog.) But did you know that Yerba Mate caffeine is a thing, too?

Caffeine is the underlying reason that some footballers drink it. It works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain. In essence, by blocking adenosine, caffeine has the opposite effect. It makes us (and football players!) feel more alert and less tired.

How To Drink Yerba Mate

How To Drink Yerba Mate

So, what’s with the coconut-like Yerba Mate cup? This is, in fact, a hollow, dried-out squash known as a Gourd. The straw, meanwhile, is a Bombililla (or “Bomba” in Portuguese). This particular utensil filters out the herb in your cup before it reaches your mouth.

Before you can get this far, however, it’s imperative that you cure your Gould. This essentially prevents it from splitting over time. Start by removing the paper-like debris inside, as well as the odd seed or two. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Fill your Gould halfway with pure mate.
  2. Now fill the remaining half with boiling water.
  3. Allow the mate to soak for 24 hours.
  4. Pour the brewed mate out.
  5. Thoroughly scrape the inside of the Gould walls with a spoon.
  6. If required, repeat this whole process.
  7. Rinse your Gould one last time with hot water.

Brew up and enjoy.

Now to learn a bit of the ‘lingo’. Too much of the herb in your Yerba Mate Gould results in a “long mate”. Too little, on the other hand, is a “short mate”. Some consider adding sugar. Most, however, prefer it served without any accompaniments. Brewing times vary, although we recommend between 3 and 5 minutes.

Yerba Mate Benefits

Yerba Mate Benefits

What kind of Tea is Yerba Mate? An exceptional one, that’s for sure! Indeed, it’s unlike any other beverage, particularly when it comes to Yerba Mate benefits. Research indicates that this brew contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This includes, but is not limited to:

Yerba Mate Constituents

Vitamin A Vitamin B Vitamin C
Vitamin E Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2
Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin C
Vitamin E Calcium Inositol
Iron Magnesium Manganese
Phosphorus Potassium Selenium
Sodium Sulfur Zinc

Combined, these chemical compounds fight free radicals in the body. These free radicals, the product of human oxidation, can cause several issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. Yerba Mate benefits, on the other hand, reduce the risk of developing these kinds of chronic conditions. What more could you want from your morning cuppa?

As it turns out, it has much, much more to offer. Studies suggest that it can, among other qualities, promote weight loss, aid digestion and even improve sex drive! Let’s now take a look at some of the evidence supporting these claims.

Yerba Mate Weight Loss

Yerba Mate Weight Loss

There is no easy “fix-all” solution when it comes to losing weight. Although many websites might have you believe that there are methods to “drop 7 pounds in 7 days!”, most lie. The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, on the other hand, tell you as it is. Preliminary research suggests that Yerba Mate benefits can help. However, this beverage can’t do all of the work for you.

One human-based study indicates that it can boost the metabolism of fat cells. This enables the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently. Ultimately, this means that periods of moderate exercise produce better, more noticeable results. In other words, weight loss. Another animal-based study had similar findings.

The results from a 12-week study in overweight people also look promising. It discovered that those given 3 grams of Yerba Mate powder daily on average of 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) of weight. Participants also reduced their waist-to-hip ratio by 2%. This indicates lost belly fat.

Furthermore, as Lionel Messi would likely attest, Yerba Mate caffeine provides an extra boost of energy. This can, of course, help you get out of bed in time for that morning jog. Despite these incredible Yerba Mate benefits, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is vital.

Improved Digestion

Improved Digestion

Long before the development of modern science, the indigenous peoples of South America drank this Tea for improved digestion. As it turns out, they were on to something. We now know that Yerba Mate contains xanthines, a chemical compound that promotes muscle relaxation. This includes muscles found within the digestive system.

Furthermore, it can increase bile production and other gastric acids. It also helps keep your colon clean for effective and efficient waste elimination. If that wasn’t enough, evidence suggests that Yerba Mate benefits make for an excellent choice against bloating, constipation and cramping.

Again, however, it’s important to note that research is preliminary.

Lowers “Bad” Cholesterol

Lowers “Bad” Cholesterol

We already know that this herbal infusion can improve heart health thanks to its antioxidants. However, this isn’t the only way it can help your ‘ticker’. Human-based research has since proven that Yerba Mate can, in some cases, reduce cholesterol levels, too. In particular, one 2009 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has the answers.

This 40-day project saw participants drink 11 ounces (330 ml) of Yerba Mate daily. At the end of the study, researchers noted that “bad” LDL cholesterol had lowered by 8.6-13.1%.

This doesn’t sound like a lot, right? In truth, it is! Another win for Yerba Mate benefits - or at least according to preliminary evidence, that is!

Diabetes

Diabetes

Drinking Yerba Mate frequently can, according to some studies, help reduce complications with hyperglycemia in diabetic individuals. One such study saw 58 patients, some with type-2 diabetes and some considered prediabetic, split into two groups. The first group drank this Herbal Tea 2 times daily for 60 days. The second group received a placebo.

The results established that, in those with type-2 diabetes, there was a positive influence on blood glucose and HbA1c levels. When it came to HbA1c levels, in particular, there was a significant decrease by 0.85% after 20 - 40 days. Until we know more, however, we do not endorse this Tea, or any Tea, for this purpose. Instead, we support ongoing research.

Buy Yerba Mate

Buy Yerba Mate UK

The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company stock everything you need when it comes to Yerba Mate. If you’re just starting to explore the world of this Tea, our Yerba Mate Kit is an excellent first step. This selection includes Yerba Mate, a Gourd and a Bombilla.

Those who already have the appropriate utensils may instead choose something a little different. For this, we recommend Detox Yerba Mate and Chilli Tea. With this beverage, expect a mixture of tropical pineapple notes, a spicy kick and a sweet, citrusy aroma.

Whatever you decide upon, you’ve decided well with us. We pack every Tea, Tisane and Coffee fresh to order. This ensures not only quality but also consistency.