Up until approximately one week ago, I was merrily going about my life with the firm understanding that there was a magical drink in existence that had the very Australian name Yerba Mate. I really liked the idea of drinking a tea that has ‘mate’ in its name so I was slightly (read: very) put out to realise it is actually pronounced mah-tay. Luckily for it, and me, its incredible health benefits exist regardless of what it’s called.
So, what’s the deal? It is traditionally a South American beverage that is made from the ground stems and leaves of the yerba mate plant. It is a safe nervous system stimulant (it contains about the same amount of caffeine as black tea) and it is jammed full of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
I first heard about yerba mate while I was in Bali on a health retreat. My fellow health retreaters were raving about the tea’s benefits, with the common theme being that it increased mental clarity and focus without the jitters and headaches that can come with drinking coffee. Upon arriving home, I promptly forgot about the conversations and the very existence of this magical tea. It wasn’t until I saw it on a menu in Hawaii that I finally gave it a go.
Yerba mate has a fairly neutral flavour and can be drunk hot or iced, flavoured or plain (such a versatile little fella, that tea). Within a few minutes of consuming it, I started to feel more energised and mentally clear. The energy lasted for hours and I didn’t get the shakes, which I quite often do when I have had a coffee.
Some of the other benefits include its ability to help digestive issues. It does this by stimulating increased production of gastric acids. Because it helps reduce the bacteria that is present in the stomach, it freshens your breath. The tea also helps you to feel full by slowing down your digestion, which means you eat less and lose weight (if that’s something you’re wanting to focus on but I think you look great, just sayin’). The final main benefit it offers is that it supports your cardiovascular health by helping fat and cholesterol move through the bloodstream, rather than it sticking to your artery’s walls.
Yerba mate is starting to become available at cafes and restaurants that have a healthy offering and you can also pick it up from any good health shop.
If you’re looking for a replacement to your regular caffeinated heart starter then yerba mate might just be the new mate (ha!) you’ve been waiting for.