The drink called Yerba mate originated in South America. Technically, however, it is not a classic tea. Maté is prepared from a plant called Cesmina Paraguayan, which is a shrub or rather a low tree growing up to 10 metres high. Yerba mate is therefore not made from the leaves of the classic tea tree.
Even the preparation of Yerba maté for sale as a restorative drink is somewhat different from the production of tea. Not only the leaves are harvested, but also parts of the stems, and most packaged maté contains a powdery component that rises to the surface when watered.
A glance at the range of products on offer in the shops will show that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of varieties of mate, each of which is slightly different in colour, coarseness and taste.
This has to do with the very specific preparation, which involves not only drying but also, for example, smoking. Maté is dried for a relatively short period of time and at higher temperatures, and fermentation usually occurs only partially.
That is why you can find green maté on the market with a very delicate taste.
The most popular among South Americans, however, are the ‘smoked’ versions, i.e. maté that has been heavily processed and smoked. The taste and smell of such a drink sometimes resembles tobacco, which puts many people off. However, some people like Yerba mate for its specific taste and its useful properties.
Beneficial properties of Yerba mate
Yerba maté is a drink that contains many beneficial substances that have a positive effect on health.
- Energizes – it contains mateine (a variant of caffeine), which does not cause the rush of energy that caffeine does in coffee, but has a significantly long-lasting effect without the sharp drop in energy at the end.
- Calms the psyche – has a beneficial effect on the central nervous system and normalizes the biorhythm. Unlike coffee, it contributes to the stabilization of sleep.
- Improves the body’s immunity and gets rid of toxins – Yerba mate is full of vitamins and antioxidants. It is suitable for regular cleansing of the body, for example from heavy metals, which it helps to remove from the body
- In smaller doses, it supports heart and vascular health
- Helps you lose weight – like coffee, Yerba mate helps kick-start your burning and speeds up your metabolism. It also helps get rid of excessive appetite.
- In South America, it is believed to help fight bacteria and is often taken as a supportive remedy during illness
- Supports the functioning of the stomach and intestines. It speeds up metabolism and helps cleanse the intestines.
- Indigenous people in South America believe it increases potency and joie de vivre.
How to properly prepare Yerba mate
Preparing Yerba mate at home is not complicated at all. However, it is necessary to follow a few basic recommendations to enjoy the taste of the drink and at the same time make the most of all its beneficial properties that this unique drink offers.
In South America, they have a somewhat unique approach to preparing Yerba maté, which is due to the fact that they drink Yerba maté from morning to night. The traditional vessel for preparing Yerba maté is the Kalabasa, which you can buy in the Czech Republic. Kalabasa is traditionally made from a small hollowed-out gourd. Nowadays, of course, ceramic and other materials are also used.
A regular mug will do
You can, of course, also use a regular mug. The quality of the drink is not affected by the utensils used.
South Americans, however, indulge in really strong doses of Yerba maté, filling the calabash at least two-thirds full before pouring a little water over it. However, the novice Yerba Maté user should start with a significantly smaller dose.
Yerba maté should never be prepared with boiling water – a maximum temperature of 75°C is appropriate.
Higher temperatures will destroy all the vitamins and beneficial substances that Yerba maté contains.
There is also a cold version of Terere – locals prepare it with mint or fruit juices, for example. The preparation time is several hours. Terere can then be served with ice, for example
You can’t do without bombilly
The main specificity of drinking Yerba mate is the typical bombilla. At first glance, it looks like a straw. However, at the end you will find a sort of strainer that makes it easier to drink the drink
Drinking Yerba maté as a tea is basically impossible.
The only exception is maté in classic tea bags, but this contains only a very small amount of the drink and costs considerably more than loose Yerba maté in a larger pack (500 grams is the standard pack).
When drinking maté without bombilla, you constantly have to fight with tiny pieces of leaves and stems that spoil the enjoyment of the drink. Bombilla, on the other hand, allows you to fully enjoy maté of all varieties and coarseness.
What to watch out for when drinking and preparing
Never prepare yerba mate with boiling water and never drink it at temperatures above 75°C. Not only are you depriving yourself of the most valuable antioxidants and vitamins, but you are also putting yourself at risk.
Like brewed coffee and other high-temperature beverages, brewed Yerba maté may contribute to esophageal and gastrointestinal cancers.
Yerba maté is also not well suited for people with high blood pressure or other diseases of the heart and circulatory system.