Are you looking for a caffeine boost that can also promote your overall wellbeing? Look no further than yerba mate.
This South American tea is known for its strong kick, but it has numerous health benefits besides its caffeine content. Let’s learn together about this magical tea.
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What Is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate is a rich tea made from the South American yerba mate plant, known formally as Ilex Paraguariensis or the Paraguayan Holly. This tree is evergreen, so its leaves can be harvested year-round in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay.
The name yerba mate roughly translates to “herbs from the calabash,” since this drink is traditionally enjoyed out of a hollowed-out calabash gourd. Although the Guarani natives were the first to enjoy yerba mate, the Jesuits adopted this tea and began cultivating it in the 17th century.
Although cultivation of this tea gained popularity in the 20th century, yerba mate has long been a focal point of many South American traditions. This tea plant has dug its roots deep into South American culture and continues to be a widely enjoyed tradition today.
Health Benefits of Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is a beloved coffee alternative because of its high caffeine content, and it’s also a staple in local folk remedies. This plant is one of those beautiful instances where science and folk medicine intersect, as many of its benefits are scientifically proven.
Here are some of our favorite potential benefits of drinking yerba mate.
Boosts Mental Function
One cup of yerba mate contains 85 milligrams of caffeine, which is less than a cup of coffee but more than tea! While you may know caffeine for its strong energy boost, this naturally occurring chemical stimulant can do so much more than wake you up.
The stimulant effects of caffeine can also help increase focus and alertness, which is often why you may feel more settled after drinking coffee. Caffeine can also help improve short-term memory!
If you’re a coffee drinker, then you may have noticed that caffeine can also sometimes give you the jitters. This is usually due to the amount of caffeine you’re drinking, combined with your tolerance.
However, locals in South America maintain that yerba mate’s caffeine boost is jitter-free. This is not yet confirmed by science, but it’s possible that this phenomenon is related to yerba mate’s caffeine content.
Because it contains slightly less caffeine than a cup of coffee, you can drink more of this drink without experiencing caffeine’s jittery side effects.
This might also be because yerba mate and yerba mate extract also contain an alkaloid stimulant called theobromine.
Theobromine also provides an energy boost, but much slower and smoother than caffeine, thanks to the way it’s absorbed by our bodies. In fact, an energy boost based on theobromine is much more relaxing than one based on caffeine.
Another stimulant in yerba mate is theophylline, which helps promote steady breathing and supports healthy blood oxygen levels. Interestingly, all three stimulants are based on xanthines.
Loaded With Antioxidants
Antioxidants are an important part of any balanced diet because they have an important function: chasing and neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants are compounds that have extra electrons, meanwhile, free radicals are atoms that are missing free radicals. It’s a match made in heaven!
When free radicals aren’t neutralized, they can cause major damage to your body as they search for their missing electron. While your body creates antioxidants naturally, it’s often not enough to fully prevent free radical damage (AKA oxidative stress). That’s why it’s so important to incorporate antioxidant-rich foods and drinks like fruits, vegetables, and teas into your diet.
You might know that green tea is famous for its antioxidants, but yerba mate has incredibly similar antioxidant activity to green tea. This herbal tea has a few types of antioxidants — polyphenols, flavonoids, and saponins — which work together to find free radicals and neutralize them so that you can feel wonderful.
Supports the Immune System
While regular doctor’s visits are one of our favorite ways to stay healthy, it doesn’t hurt to supplement modern medicine with a delicious cuppa. Yerba mate is a great choice because it can actually help support your immune system, thanks to its hefty helping of vitamin C.
Yerba mate has been shown to help your body fight off bacteria and viruses. This tea also contains minerals like potassium, manganese, and calcium, which are vital components of your immune system.
As if that wasn’t enough, yerba mate has seven amino acids, which are essential to help keep you feeling healthy and vibrant. Not only does yerba mate have powerful antioxidant properties, but it also supports your whole immune system.
Many teas boast a metabolism boost, but yerba mate is a bit unique. Because yerba mate has more caffeine than even a typical cup of black tea, this herbal tea can help boost your metabolism more efficiently.
This is because caffeine has been shown to support a healthy metabolism. Additionally, yerba mate combined with exercise can help to stabilize your mood and promote a healthy metabolism even better than exercise alone.
This tea also helps support a normal appetite, which is a strong sign of a healthy metabolism. Even when you are hungry, yerba mate supports your metabolism by promoting healthy blood sugar levels.
Yerba mate can also promote healthy blood lipid levels, which then helps support your heart health. Yerba mate mainly does this by maintaining healthy levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol while supporting “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
This tea also helps support your heart through stress. By helping support healthy cholesterol levels, yerba mate can also help support healthy levels of blood pressure.
How to Make Yerba Mate Tea
If you can’t wait to hop on board the yerba mate train, we hear you! Here’s how to brew your very own yerba mate:
First, pick out a yerba mate that you will enjoy. Then, steep the yerba mate leaves in hot water (not boiling water). Finally, strain your leaves and enjoy.
Traditionally, yerba mate is brewed in a gourd called a mate and enjoyed through a straw called a bombilla. However, it’s also A-okay to use a simple tea bag and tea kettle.
Yerba mate is a unique herbal tea in that it does provide an energy boost — but this tea actually works hard on all fronts to keep you feeling healthy and refreshed. If you want to try the health effects of yerba mate for yourself, check out our online shop for an extensive selection of flavors you’ll love!
Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more about our tea subscriptions.
About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.
The Impact of Caffeine on Mood, Cognitive Function, Performance and Hydration: a Review of Benefits and Risks | British Nutrition Foundation
Yerba Mate—A Long but Current History | Nutrients
Consumption of Yerba Mate ( Ilex Paraguariensis ) Improves Serum Lipid Parameters in Healthy Dyslipidemic Subjects and Provides an Additional LDL-Cholesterol Reduction in Individuals on Statin Therapy | Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry