Yerba Mate Tea - Ready For Your First Cup?
Curious as to what this yerba mate tea is all about? You may see people sipping this cloudy green brew at coffee shops around town. Word on the street is this tea packs more nutritional power than even green tea. Or perhaps you've read the hype surrounding yerba mate good for weight loss and weight control, peaking your curiosity and interest in learning more about the benefits of this special tea.
You may just now be hearing about yerba mate tea but it's actually nothing new. In regions of South America, mate has been consumed for centuries by millions of people daily. These populations drink this native beverage over coffee six to one in most regions.
The tea leaves come from a small evergreen shrub that is native to subtropical forests of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Yerba mate tea is a blend of dried leaves and stems of the tree. The brew has long been revered by these cultures as the "drink of the Gods", loaded with twenty-four vitamins and minerals and essential antioxidants and amino acids.
Yerba mate benefits include energy, endurance, immune system support, mental clarity, greater focus and concentration, relief of allergy symptoms and symptoms of mild to moderate asthma. The tea is a vital part of the regimen of the legendary gauchos (cowboys) of Argentine for sustained energy and stamina. Its role as a nutritional supplement has carried regions of South America through bouts of famine and drought that distressed food supply.
The mate circle, the sharing of this tea within a group setting, is a social ritual in parts of Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. The idea is to assemble friends or family in a small grouping to unwind and relax with a shared beverage. The tea is placed inside a hollowed out gourd and the group drinks from the same bombilla -- a small metal drinking straw. Sharing the same cup and the same straw is recognized as a sign of hospitality, goodwill and unity, enriching the mind, soul and relationships of each person who is participating in the ritual.
The taste of yerba mate tea is similar to the taste of traditional green tea. Most people find the vegetal, herbal and grassy taste to be very agreeable. The aroma itself is reminiscent of freshly cut grass on a warm summer day. It is recommended that the tea be brewed with hot rather than boiling water. Steeping the tea leaves in boiling hot water can make it taste very bitter. The use of hot water allows the tea leaves to be infused over and over again by simply adding hot water to the blend until the taste becomes flat.
Despite its presence in South American culture and tradition, yerba drinks had gone largely unnoticed in the United States where coffee and canned energy drinks as the beverage of choice to wake up, stimulate alertness and alleviate fatigue.
One of the top benefits of a cup of mate is that the caffeine in the brew is better tolerated than the caffeine in coffee or energy drinks. Those who consume the tea often comment that they don't feel the jitters, anxiety and heart palpitations typically associated with drinking too much coffee or energy drinks. There is also no crash afterward.
Recent studies have suggested that the plant itself differs from other plants containing caffeine, the theobromine value of the plant's leaves being the most significant difference. Theobromine promotes relaxation of smooth muscle tissue. While still stimulating the central nervous system, theobromine is weaker than caffeine and typically will not over-stimulate the central nervous system in the way that caffeine does.
The tea also acts as a diuretic that rids the body of excess water through frequent urination. Colon-cleansing properties are another benefit. Agents within the tea are believed to suppress the appetite and increase metabolism, causing some people to hail it as a modern day diet breakthrough.