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What is yerba mate?

What is yerba mate?

There is a drink with extraordinary stimulating and health-enhancing properties discovered as far back as the ancient Indians. Yerba mate is an infusion made from the leaves and twigs of Ilex paraguariensis. For the Guarani Indians it was like tea for modern man. Today, the properties and taste of yerba mate are known all over the world. Europeans are also becoming more and more fond of this extraordinary drink from South America. What is yerba mate? How to prepare it and how to drink it? What does yerba mate taste like? We have collected all the most important information about mate tea in today's article!


  1. What is yerba mate? Where does yerba mate come from?
  2. Guarani Indians. Pioneers of yerba mate
  3. Yerba mate and the Jesuits
  4. Yerba mate. An integral part of Latino life
  5. How does yerba mate work?
  6. Yerba mate. Healthier than coffee
  7. Yerba mate for weight loss
  8. What does yerba mate taste like?
  9. Yerba mate. How to get started?

What is yerba mate? Where does yerba mate come from?

Yerba mate is the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a plant of the holly species, used to make an aromatic infusion high in caffeine, nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The plant is found in Paraguay and the subtropical areas of Argentina and Brazil. It is in these three countries and in bordering Uruguay that yerba mate is most popular and is drunk daily by a significant proportion of the population. When it comes to cultivation, holly has high requirements. The plant prefers lowland sites with high humidity. Precipitation of 2,500 mm per year and an average temperature of around 20°C are prerequisites. Appropriate soil criteria are no less important. It is assumed that the soil on which Ilex paraguariensis grows should contain clay and sand, have a slightly acid reaction and be rich in potassium. This is why, despite repeated attempts, it has not been possible to introduce yerba mate in other regions of the world to date.

Guarani Indians. Pioneers of yerba mate

The extraordinary properties of Ilex paraguariensis were discovered by the Guarani Indians long before European colonisation. Chewing the leaves of the plant allowed them to relieve hunger, improve concentration and boost energy. Yerba mate proved particularly beneficial during hunting or intertribal skirmishes. Not surprisingly, it began to be surrounded by an almost divine cult and its consumption took on the character of a religious ceremony. The origins of the appearance of yerba mate on earth even became part of Guarani mythology. They believed that the miraculous plant was a gift from the goddesses Yari and Arai. It is said that they appeared under human form on earth, where they were attacked by a jaguar while walking in the jungle. Their saviour turned out to be a hunter named Guarani. The reward for the rescue was a holly tree, which the following day unexpectedly grew right under his hut. From that moment on, the plant and its life-giving leaves became a symbol of friendship and brotherhood among the Indians.

Yerba mate - what is it?

Yerba mate and the Jesuits

The arrival of colonisers from Europe was generally associated with the mass destruction of indigenous culture. Guarani Indians, however, were very lucky. All thanks to the arrival of the Jesuits. Unlike the Spanish crown, the missionaries carried out peaceful evangelisation activities. Their activities centred on the establishment and running of so-called reductions. In the settlements located in the midst of the inaccessible tropics, they promoted a political system based on communal work and the equitable distribution of wealth. The monks also took an interest in yerba mate. Appreciating its beneficial properties, they introduced numerous improvements to the cultivation technique. This allowed them to increase yields and, as a result, export surplus yerba mate to other provinces. The fame of the brew quickly spread among the conquistadors. The popularity of Ilex paraguariensis grew steadily, gradually taking root in the local culture. During the period of independence struggles at the dawn of the 19th century, yerba mate grew to become a symbol of the national identity of the emerging countries. This is expressed, for example, in the archetype of the gaucho, central to the Argentine tradition. The figure of the freedom-loving nomadic cattle herder from the southern borderlands of the country is still depicted today with an inseparable vessel full of life-giving yerba mate.

Yerba mate. An integral part of Latino life

Yerba mate is an integral part of the identity and daily life of Latin Americans up to the present day. No wonder there are so many plantations in the relatively narrow area where the plant is found. Their number now reaches several thousand. According to statistics, the leader in the consumption of mate tea is Uruguay. The annual consumption of yerba mate per capita there is almost 9 kilograms! Just behind them is Argentina with around 6.5 kilograms per person per year. The podium is rounded off by Paraguay with around 2.5 kilograms per person. Brazilians are also keen on yerba mate, but it is not popular throughout the country. Mate production is concentrated in four provinces in the south of Brazil – Parana, Rio Grande, Santa Catarina and least in Mato Grosso do Sul. The north of the country has been overtaken by coffee production, and many people in the northern regions do not even know what yerba mate is. It is no wonder, then, that the entrepreneurs there focus on selling the raw material abroad. For many years Brazil, hand in hand with Argentina, have been world leaders when it comes to exporting yerba mate. Just behind them is Paraguay. And where is mate most often shipped? At the top of the list we have Uruguay and countries in the Middle East: Syria and Lebanon. Spain is the European import leader, due to the large number of Latino immigrants living there. This is followed by Germany, France and Poland. These countries record the highest growth in yerba mate sales. We immodestly admit that this is also due to our online shop. No doubt some of you have discovered yerba mate through us!

How does yerba mate work?

The growing popularity of yerba mate outside its home continent is due to its numerous beneficial properties. The dry product is characterised by a high concentration of caffeine similar to that found in coffee. A number of additional ingredients are also important. Drinking yerba mate provides the body with a set of vitamins and, among others, riboflavin, chromium, potassium and zinc. The infusion stimulates the work of muscles and heart, supports metabolism, increases intellectual performance and eliminates fatigue. The enormous antioxidant content in turn translates into stimulation of the immune system's defence mechanisms. Mate drinkers fall ill less frequently. Yerba mate is also sometimes used as a natural stimulant for athletes. The infusion dilates the blood vessels and improves circulation, thereby increasing the body's performance during physical exertion. Studies carried out in recent years suggest that yerba mate may have an inhibitory effect on the development of Alzheimer's disease. In addition, researchers see a possible correlation between the consumption of yerba mate and the slowing down of glucose digestion. This would indicate a positive effect of the infusions in the fight against diabetes.

Yerba mate - what is it?

Yerba mate. Healthier than coffee

As we mentioned above, yerba mate has a similar caffeine content to coffee. At the same time, more and more coffee drinkers have switched to the mate infusion in recent years. What is the reason for this phenomenon? Medical authorities are in no doubt: yerba mate is simply healthier! The caffeine it contains is absorbed more slowly, but in a more balanced way. This translates into a less intense, but more stable and longer-lasting stimulation effect. This eliminates the unpleasant consequence of drinking coffee in the form of a sudden burst of energy and the subsequent feeling of weakness. It also has to do with the mineral and nutritional richness of yerba mate. The plant contains more ingredients that are valuable to health and easy for the body to assimilate. It is no wonder that those who have tried yerba mate rarely go back to "little black".

Yerba mate for weight loss

Among the undoubted advantages of yerba mate is the fact that the infusion helps to lose weight. Its regular consumption supports the metabolism and has a stimulating effect on metabolic processes in our body. In addition, the infusion "tricks" the body into feeling satiated. By drinking mate tea, we will certainly find it easier to deny ourselves sweets and other fattening snacks. In order to support a weight loss treatment, it is worth taking an interest in yerba mate products dedicated specifically to shedding pounds. These products are designated by the Spanish term silueta, meaning "silhouette". In their composition, apart from yerba mate, we can find a composition of herbs supporting metabolism. Customers of our online shop most often opt for Guarani Silueta, Verde Mate Green Silueta and Regulase.

What does yerba mate taste like?

"What is the flavour of yerba mate?" This is the question asked by people who intend to try mate for the first time. Will its taste suit them, or will it be too bitter and intense? Power and bitterness are most associated with it, but the truth is that no two yerba mate are the same. Each species and brand tastes different, influenced by a number of different factors. The first of these is the processing method. Traditional yerba is dried with smoke over a special roaster. As a result, the brew actually has an intense, slightly bitter taste, which may seem too strong for novice mateists. The situation is different with yerba mate green. Hot air is used in the processing of this type of mate. The dry product retains its fresh, grassy colour and mild, organic flavour. It is precisely green yerba mate that is recommended for the beginning of a mateist adventure. Another point is the presence of additives. Yerba mate goes well with herbs and fruits, which moderate the intense flavour and introduce interesting, original notes. The vast majority of well-known brands offer products rich in diverse ingredients.

How to improve the taste of yerba mate?

If you found the taste of mate too intense when you first tried it, nothing lost! There are many alternatives. You can, for example, switch to more delicate yerba mates, labelled suave (the word means "mild" in Spanish) or yerba mates with additives. It is not necessary to buy ready-made blends. If you have already decided on a classic mate without additives, but it is too bitter for you, you can add pieces of fruit or dried and fresh herbs to it yourself. Yerba mate is the perfect base for culinary experiments! The bitter and intense taste of mate can also be eased by adding sweeteners – honey, stevia, sugar or its healthier substitutes such as xylitol or erythritol. Another important issue is the amount of dried product. Manufacturers' recommended portions may prove to be too much for beginning yerba mate drinkers. It is not a sin to pour a teaspoon of the dry leaves into the mate cup to begin with, instead of 1/4 of the volume of the container as is usually recommended. It is also important to keep an eye on the temperature of the water with which the yerba mate is poured. The optimum water temperature is between 70-80°C. Water that is too hot can scald the holly leaves, making the infusion very bitter, while cooler water will make the yerba mate taste milder, but also release its properties less easily.

Yerba mate. How to get started?

To taste yerba mate we need, first of all, the dry product itself. It is quite powdery, so a lot of grounds are produced when it comes into contact with water. To remedy this, a filtering tube with a sieve – the bombilla – is necessary. A special container – mate gourd – made of ceramic, hollowed-out calabash fruit (also called calabaza) or wood (usually palo santo) is also useful. In our online yerba mate shop you will find everything you need to sip your brew. If you are just starting out with yerba mate, it is best to buy a starter kit containing a set of accessories. If you want to know more about yerba mate, be sure to check out our blog posts:

Source of information:

  1. Wikipedia: Yerba mate, Mate.
  2. C. I. Heck, E. G. De Mejia, Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations, Journal of Food Science, 2007.
  3. A. Gawron-Gzella, J. Chanaj-Kaczmarek, J. Cielecka-Piontek, Yerba Mate—A Long but Current History, Nutrients, 2021.
  4. P. M. Bortoli et al., Ilex paraguariensis: Potential antioxidant on aluminium toxicity, in an experimental model of Alzheimer's disease, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, 2017.
  5. A. Alkhatib et al., Functional Foods and Lifestyle Approaches for Diabetes Prevention and Management, Nutrients, 2017.
  6. B. Sarriá et al., Yerba mate may prevent diabetes according to a crossover, randomized, controlled study in humans, Proceedings of The Nutrition Society, 2020.


Yerba Verde Mate Green Silueta 0,5kg

Yerba Verde Mate Green Silueta 0,5kg

£5.90 incl. VAT/1pc(£11.80 / kg incl. VAT)
Yerba Verde Mate Green Regulase 0,5kg

Yerba Verde Mate Green Regulase 0,5kg

£5.90 incl. VAT/1pc(£11.80 / kg incl. VAT)
Guarani Silueta 0,5kg

Guarani Silueta 0,5kg

£4.90 incl. VAT/1pc(£9.80 / kg incl. VAT)