The Yerba Maté Way

Tea culture has definitely become a staple while attending school as a naturopathic student. Students are constantly smelling and sampling the latest flavors and are always comparing the latest and greatest tea accessories.  It seems in the world of naturopathic medical students your coolness factor depends not on if you have the latest cell phone or gadget but if your tea tumbler is double walled with a stainless steal infuser.  Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water and for good reason as its health benefits seem endless. My favorite tea is called Yerba maté and isn’t technically a tea at all because it comes from the Ilex paraguariensis plant which belongs to the holly family. Yerba maté contains many vitamins and minerals, amino acids, anti-oxidants, stimulants and can even suppress your appetite. Care to know more about this up and coming super food?

Maté is grown naturally in the rain forest of many parts of South America and is mainly farmed and cultivated in Paraguay.  It is a very popular beverage in these southern countries and is traditionally consumed from a dried gourd by using a “Bombilla” which is a straw made from metal. Maté can come in two main varieties, natural or roasted. "Natural" simply means the leaves have been dried with very little processing while roasted means the leaves have been cooked or roasted in a wood burning fire. I tend to stick to the natural variety because I feel as though it allows for the most healthful infusion of the leaves. Some great benefits from drinking Yerba maté are that it:
  • Naturally contains 24 vitamins and minerals
  • Naturally contains 15 amino acids
  • Is rich in antioxidants and contains higher levels than brewed green tea
  • Boosts immunity
  • Restores youthful hair color
  • Retards aging
  • Combats fatigue
  • Controls appetite
  • Stimulates like coffee but does not result in the jitters or a sudden crash of energy

 It is important to keep in mind that these benefits have very little scientific research to back them up and have only been deduced by the long term consumption of this plant in many South American cultures. The plant however has been analyzed for its antioxidant content and does indeed contain higher levels than most brewed green teas. A very old study done in 1964 by the Pasteur Institute and Paris Scientific Society concluded that "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value." They also mentioned that maté contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life." With all of these great benefits, why not add maté to your tea cupboard?
The taste of maté may need some improvement for many North Americans. It is fairly grassy and earthy in flavor and has therefore been flavored by many different tea companies to make it more palatable. I for one enjoy the taste of plain maté as the taste really makes me believe that it is good for me which in turn makes me feel great about drinking it. Also, if you are able to drink plain maté, it becomes much more affordable as you can purchase a large bag of the leaves from a herbal supply store for as little as six dollars. The flavored varieties tend to be more readily available from tea shops and boutiques and are much more expensive.

Make today a maté day! 

Please leave a comment, have you given maté a try?



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