Yerba Maté (pronounced "yerba mahtay") is a medicinal and cultural drink of ancient origins. Introduced to the world by the Guarani Indians of South America, Maté is a species of holly plant, and can range in flavor from earthy and roasted to grassy.
Mate is a healthy and stimulating drink, with roughly 35 milligrams of caffeine per 8 oz. serving. Yerba Maté is an appetite suppressant, also high in Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Mate contains xanthines, which are in the same family as caffeine, and sometimes called "mateine". Mate also contains other natural chemicals and trace minerals that seem to mellow out the experience of consuming this particular type of caffeine, and many mate drinkers report that they feel alert and focused without any negative effects of coffee, such as jitters and a caffeine crash. Preliminary scientific studies of mate have shown that the compounds in the plant have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, rather than a stimulating effect on the central nervous system.
Preparation: Requires pure water at 203° F (Boil, then cool 1 min)
Yerba Maté should be steeped for 6–7 minutes using hot, but not boiled water. Boiling water can make mate bitter, just like tea. Some people even like to pour cool water over the mate leaves before filling the rest of the cup with hot water to avoid extracting tannins, which create the bitter flavor.
Process: After harvesting, yerba mate branches are dried sometimes with a wood fire, imparting a smoky flavor to some styles. Other styles are steamed which results in a grassier flavor, which can be likened to Japanese green tea. The leaves are then chopped to a specific size of leaf cut.
Origins: Grown and processed in South America, specifically in northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. Cultivators are known as yerbateros (Spanish) or ervateiros (Brazilian Portuguese).