Yerba mate is a traditional South American drink that’s gaining worldwide popularity.  It’s said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the joy of chocolate.  Yerba mate is an herbal tea.  This tea, commonly known simply as mate, is popular in parts of South America.  The leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant are dried, typically over a fire, and steeped in hot water to make an herbal tea.  Yerba mate may be served cold or hot. Like black tea, yerba mate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant.

Yerba mate contains antioxidants, caffeine, and several nutrients.  Some research suggests it may enhance physical performance, boost energy levels, and support weight management. People who recommend yerba mate say that it can relieve fatigue, aid in weight loss, ease depression, and help treat headaches and various other conditions.

In the following video, Dr. Andrew Huberman discusses how Yerba mate works for appetite suppression and weight loss.

How to prepare Yerba mate

Yerba mate is traditionally served in a container called a gourd, also known as a calabash. It’s commonly sipped through a metal straw that has a filter on its lower end to strain out the leaf fragments.

To prepare mate, fill the bottom third of the calabash with dried or toasted mate leaves prior to adding hot water.  The tea is often served with burnt sugar, lemon juice, or milk and can be topped off with hot water several times before using new leaves to make a new batch.  Although traditionally consumed hot, yerba mate may also be served cold, especially in hot climates.

If you do not own a calabash, you can prepare it like a traditional tea.

  1. Place a tea infuser containing about one tablespoon of loose tea leaves in a teacup.
  2. Heat water to 90-95 C or 194-205 F. If you don’t have a temperature-controlled teapot, bring water to a boil, and then let sit for a minute to reduce the temperature just slightly.
  3. Pour eight ounces of water over the infuser.
  4. Let tea leaves steep for as long as desired.
  5. Remove the infuser.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Where to buy Yerba Mate

In the U.S., yerba mate is widely available in health food stores and online.  We recommend the Rosamonte Special Selection Yerba Mate Tea and the BALIBETOV Yerba Mate Wood Gourd Set available on Amazon.

Storage and Food Safety

Store yerba mate tea leaves the same way that you would store any other tea leaves. In general, experts advise that you avoid the heat, moisture, light, air, and odor. So you should store your dried tea leaves in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place, away from spiced and other odors. Use an opaque jar or packaging if you can. Tea generally starts losing flavor after about six months. You should consume dried tea within a year. Loose-leaf tea can be frozen but it is usually not recommended.

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