Hyperoptimal Tea: Mate

Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a shrub from the holly family, native to South America, whose leaves are dried and made into a tea. It is very popular in South American, where it is consumed in a similar way to coffee or black tea.

Yerba Mate is known for its effects of sustained energy, mood elevation, mental clarity and appetite control.

Yerba Mate LeavesMate contains xanthines, which are alkaloids in the same family as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in coffee and chocolate.

It is also known to contain 196 active compounds: 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and 11 polyphenols (antioxidants).

Mate GourdThere is much debate about whether or not mate contains a unique compound called matetine, of if mate simply contains caffine. Here is an article putting forth the matetine theory, and another arguing that its just caffine.

Mate is traditionally sipped from of a hollow gourd, through a special metal straw (traditionally silver) called a bombilla (bom-BEE-ya or bom-BEE-zha in Argentinian pronunciation). “Bombilla” means, literally, “little pump” or “straw” in Spanish.

An in-depth botanical description of Yerba Mat´┐Ż can be found here.

Guayaki MateGuayaki produces a rain forest grown, organic, fair traded range of Yerba Mate teas. They also offer a drink called Java Mate, made with a Ramon nut, which taste like coffee and can be ground in a French press.

Yerba Mate is available from gourmet supermarkets and health food stores.

Comments 7

  1. Moderation in all things I suppose. The study mentioned was done in Uruguay, if I am not mistaken, where the AVERAGE yerba mate consumption per annum is somewhere near 100 kilos of yerba mate per person. And then there’s the too-hot water as cephoe mentioned. For more info. check our site.

  2. Yes, the studies that were mentioned did not relate cancer to Mate at all. Rather, those drinkers who continuously drink mate with extremely hot water may be at risk. It is due to the hot water burning their throats, not the Mate.

  3. The comment, “Just FYI, there is some evidence that drinking hot mate causes esophageal cancer in humans” is incorrect and misleading. It is more accurate to state that a correlation exists between cancer and yerba mate, if indeed one does, but is unlikely to be proven that “mate causes cancer”. Too many other variables exist to pronounce such a statement. FYI, even on cigarette boxes, it is stated as “Smoking MAY cause cancer.”

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