Yerba mate tea
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Yerba Mate tea is a good coffee substitute

Most people in the United States begin their day with a “cuppa joe.” They rely upon that first cup of coffee to kick-start their bodies and minds for the day ahead. Many people in South America follow a similar tradition. Instead of coffee, however, they start their day with a cup of yerba mate.

In the United States, at the end of the working day, many people gather at gourmet coffee shops to socialize over a cup of dessert-like hot or iced coffee. In South America, a similar experience takes place. There are as many mate shops in South American countries, per capita, as there are gourmet coffee shops in the United States.

What is Yerba Mate?

We suggest you search Teavana Teas for a fine selection of Yerba Mate


Yerba mate is an herbal tea. It takes its name for the gourd from which it is traditionally drunk. Since pre-Columbian times, it has been brewed from the dried leaves of an evergreen shrub called Ilex paraguarensis, a type of holly. Until recently, it has been grown and consumed mainly in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

Because of recent demand for the yerba mate tea from other parts of the world, it is now grown in other tropical countries, including India. Some yerba mate is harvested from wild bushes, but the bulk of this tea sold today is produced on plantations in Uruguay and Paraguay.

Many of these plantations produce certified organic yerba mate tea. Industry sources estimate that about 300,000 tons of mate are produced annually. While this is an impressive figure, it is small in comparison to the nearly 4 million tons of loose leaf tea produced world wide each year.

Brewing Yerba Mate

Most yerba mate is sold in bags of loose tea leaves. A small amount is packaged into tea bags, but these do not seem to offer the rich, full flavor provided by the loose leaf tea. Never prepare this tea using boiling water. Use hot water to prevent the tea from becoming bitter.

There are several popular methods for preparing yerba mate. You can brew it as you would any loose tea leaves, and filter it as you pour it into your cup. You can also brew it using a French press, as you would when brewing coffee. Almost any method used for brewing coffee or tea will work.

Regardless of the method, use one heaping teaspoon of loose tea per cup. Brewing time depends upon your personal taste. You may wish to experiment, but experience indicates that brewing from two to four minutes produces the ideal cup of yerba mate tea.

Some prefer to brew using loose leaf yerba mate that includes sticks and stems. Doing this may produce a tea more bitter than that brewed using a pure leaf mate. However you decide to prepare your yerba mate, you can complement the taste with milk and sweeteners as you would with coffee or other teas.

Health benefits of Yerba Mate

Most of the health benefits historically attributed to yerba mate are anecdotal. South American tradition claims that yerba mate will reduce fatigue, provide mental clarity, suppress appetite, aid gastric function, brighten mood, relieve allergies, improve digestion, boost the immune system, and sustain physical energy.

More current medical opinion indicates that yerba mate contains many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and a significant amount of caffeine which, balanced with its other nutritional properties, provides a good energy source. Most countries in Western Europe recognize it as a weight-loss aid and a diuretic.

Enjoying the Yerba Mate Experience

When properly prepared, yerba mate provides a pleasant, delicious beverage with a flavor that reminds some of green tea. As a stimulant, it is less potent than coffee, and kinder to the stomach. It is an herbal alternative to other teas, an excellent coffee substitute, and can be made into a flavorful iced beverage for those hot summer days.

An increasing number of people who are trying to kick the coffee habit have found yerba mate to be a healthful, stimulating, alternative to their “cuppa joe.”


Where can you find yerba mate tea?

We suggest you search Teavana Teas for a fine selection of Yerba Mate


A friend and I recently shared a pot of rooibos chi tea and chocolate yerba mate. I really enjoyed the two flavors blended together.

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