South America’s pick-me-up: Yerba Mate

So what’s South America’s secret to staying energized? Two words: yerba mate. Sweet, toasty, smoky and oh-so smooth, this tasty herb made from dried maté plant leaves is treasured among countries like Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. According to one Brazilian legend, maté was a gift from the gods. When an old man saved two visiting goddesses from a jaguar attack, they thanked him with the maté plant, from which he could prepare a “drink of friendship.” It has been a central part of South American social gatherings and daily life ever since.

South America’s pick-me-up: Yerba Mate | Steep Thoughts

A treasured source of energy

Maté is often described as having the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate all in one beverage. Talk about a triple threat, right? But what makes this blend truly special is the fact that it provides a balanced energy boost that’s gentle, clean and most importantly, free of jitters. When it comes to caffeine content, this delicious brew is somewhere between green tea and coffee.

According maté enthusiasts, one cup is enough to help them stay alert and on their game for hours. You know what that means…It’s the perfect study buddy to sip on while cramming for an exam or for a little afternoon pick-me-up. The best part? Unlike tea, maté has a low tannin content – a brownish organic substance usually found in bark and other plant tissues – so it can be as strong as coffee without becoming extremely bitter. And since it’s a lot less acidic than coffee, it’s less likely to cause stomach acid. Now that’s what we call a double win. 

Steeping is sharing

South America’s pick-me-up: Yerba Mate | Steep Thoughts

As we’ve seen earlier, not only is maté a drink of hospitality and goodwill, it’s also largely a social event. And in Chile and Argentina, sharing it from a hollowed-out gourd is often a sign of friendship and bonding. Every evening after a long work day, the gauchos sit together around a campfire passing the maté gourd around. And then slowly, conversation starts, people come closer together and confidences are exchanged. But gauchos aren’t the only ones sipping on maté. It is enjoyed by everyone from truckers and studying students to workers during their midday rest. Morning or evening, rain or shine, summer or winter…maté is one of those drinks you can appreciate anywhere, anytime.

How to drink it

There are many ways you can enjoy a cup of maté. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, then sipping it from a gourd through a metal straw called a bombilla is sure to make you feel like one of the gauchos. But maté can also be steeped just like any loose leaf tea. You can have it hot or iced, served with milk and honey, or even iced with a spritz of lemon and mint. The combinations are endless and are guaranteed to be totally delicious.

Feeling adventurous? Browse our collection of maté teas!

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One Response to South America’s pick-me-up: Yerba Mate

  1. Marianela June 9, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    Love Yerba Mate =) I cannot leave the house without sipping on this grass in a gourd! Awesome article =)

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