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What is yerba mate?

Yerba mate (pronounced: sher ba mä te) is a popular drink from South America. It is brewed from the dried leaves and stems of the plant Ilex paraguayensis. This plant only grows in the northeast of Argentina, south of Brazil and Paraguay.

The Guarani aborigines drank yerba mate as a tea and for medicinal purposes. Later, the Jesuit monks passed the tradition on and made it known to the rest of the world.

How does yerba mate taste?

First time mate drinkers in New Zealand often describe yerba mate having a taste similar to green tea mixed with coffee. For the connoisseur, yerba mate is an experience best shared with friends.

In South America, when friends get together they often share a drink of mate around.

drawing of yerba mate plant with flowers
yerba mate loose leaves and bombilla straw

What is the uniqueness of yerba mate?

Like other teas, the leaves are dried, chopped, and ground into a powder (known as "yerba"). Unlike other teas, yerba mate is traditionally sipped from a hollow gourd (known as a “mate"), through a special straw called a bombilla (bom-bee-zha). Bombilla literally means "little pump" or "straw" in Spanish. Friends and family share the mate, sipping one person at the time.

two hands holding yerba mate in new zealand

Drinking mate has the opposite effect of watching tv.

It makes you talk if you are with a friend and think if you are alone

- Hernan Casciari - Argentine writter


is the healthy tea of choice

Yerba mate tea is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For instance, a single serving of yerba mate provides 30% of your daily needs for niacin.

What are the health benefits from drinking yerba mate tea?

Yerba mate naturally provides lasting physical and mental energy. It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrition. Yerba mate raises metabolism, elevates mood, and reduces fatigue

Yerba mate contains numerous vitamins, minerals antioxidants and proteins. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, most of B complex, nicotinic and pantothenic acids, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, manganese and phosphates. It also contains caffeine. The combination of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and caffeine results in a steady boost in energy levels.


In addition to its standing as a popular beverage, yerba mate is used as a tonic, diuretic, depurative, stimulant to reduce fatigue, an aid for gastric functions and to suppress appetite. Yerba mate contains the trace element chromium in a form that is suited for more efficient metabolic processes, meaning that your body is able to extract the necessary energy directly via digestion without having to store it first in fatty forms.  


Yerba Mate Provides a Wealth of Nutrients

The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific

society in 1964 were interested in this healthy

source of vitamins and did a thorough study of its


The investigators concluded "it is difficult to find a

plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value" and that yerba mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life."  In addition, results from a study done by researchers at the University of Madrid assert a high content of mineral elements, especially potassium, magnesium and manganese in yerba mate. They considered those findings “to be of great relevance” to the nutritional value of mate infusions.

Yerba mate has been used as a base for herbal medicines in South America for centuries, and the plant’s benefits and therapeutic properties have recently been verified by a number of scientific studies. The chemical components of yerba mate are similar to those found in green tea; however, yerba mate is more nutritious than green tea.


Most notably of Mate's biological activities is its high antioxidant capacity which has been shown to be higher than green tea, which is touted as having a very high antioxidant capacity. This high antioxidant capacity is attributed and is directly proportional to its high polyphenol concentration. Due to Mate's high biological activity and its large concentration of known active compounds it makes an ideal material for extraction of these compounds for use in other foods and supplements. There are currently several products in the market that contain some derivatives of yerba mate. Most of which are targeted at weight loss, as yerba mate has shown a correlation with weight loss and weight management. Find more information on the (


Organic yerba mate (such as Kraus organic) are steadily growing in popularity as non-organic commercial farmers rely heavily on chemical controls to manage weeds and insect pests, reducing biodiversity in sensitive environments and polluting soils and waterways. Drinking organic yerba mate also gives peace of mind to the consumer that no harmful chemical residues are present in the tea.

woman in forest after drinking yerba mate with open arms and looking at the sky
Tarefero harvesting yerba mate in argentina
Yerba mate is harvested manually. Each branch is carefully selected before cutting. Photo: (c) Kraus SA
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