This flavorful herb contains less caffeine than coffee, yet more than black tea, making it a popular drink for those trying to reduce their coffee consumption. Traditionally consumed in social settings, this herbal beverage is drunk solo, shared daily amongst friends, and consumed at parties or all-night celebrations.
Yerba Mate is a shrub in the myrtle family, native to sub-tropical regions of eastern South America. It is harvested May through October - fall through spring in South America. Depending on region and age, each plant yields between 20kg and 25kg (44lbs. to 55lbs.) of "wet" leaf.
Yerba mate seeds are planted and encouraged to grow until a seedling size of 7 to 10cm (3 - 4 inches) is reached, whereupon they are taken to a greenhouse and allowed to grow another 9 to 12 months. At that point, the small plants are moved to plantations and transplanted, where they require another 4 or 5 years' growth to reach harvestable maturity. The carefully hand-cut branches are taken to drying warehouses and exposed to direct heat to kill oxidation-producing enzymes, helping them retain their green color. The leaves are then removed from the branches and cut/ground to the proper size(s). Some blends are pure leaf (despalillada), some blends contain a higher percentage of twigs & stems (con palo), and there are "green" and "roasted" blends.
Properly processed yerba mate should have been aged for at least 24 months prior to sale. Though some companies attempt to artificially mature their mate using forced hot air, this dramatically lowers quality. The Jasmine Pearl only offers yerba mate that has been properly aged.
Yerba mate is pronounced YAIR-buh MAH-tay. Note that, when spelled, an accent mark is sometimes placed over the "e" in the word "mate", to help non-Spanish speakers understand pronunciation. However, in Spanish, the second-to-the-last syllable automatically receives the accent, so using an accent mark would be incorrect in Spanish spellings.
*Paraguayan Yerba Mate.
Yerba mate contains a surprising number of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, including:
- Vitamins B1, B2, C, & A, Riboflavin, Carotene, Pantotenic Acid, and Inositol
- 15 types of Amino Acids
Though yerba mate contains caffeine and other stimulating xanthenes, which give some people a slightly different stimulative experience than when drinking tea or coffee. Some refer to this mixture of stimulants as a single compound, calling it "mateine". Whatever the case, there is a stimulating effect on the nervous system, producing heightened mental activity which, counterintuitively, does not appear to affect sleep patterns. Yerba mate provides a slight diuretic effect, as well as increased concentration and a reduction in lactic acid buildup in muscle tissue.
- Scoop one tablespoon of tea leaves into your infuser.
- Heat water to 200° (just before boiling).
- Pour 8 oz. of water over tea leaves.
- Steep tea for 3-5 minutes (depending on taste preference).
- Remove infuser and enjoy tea.
Yerba mate combines very well with milk, soy, etc. and combines well with sweetener.
Requires just as many teaspoonsful as cups you'd like to brew - and the appropriate amount of water at the above temperature, all brewed for 3-5 minutes or so (depending on your desired strength).
Fill gourd to ¾ full with mate. Cover, invert, and shake the gourd until the smaller dust settles, then carefully revert it. Pour warm water over the mate until it is moistened, then insert the bombilla in the part containing the least amount of mate. Now pour in hot water (200°), keeping the stream concentrated around the bombilla at first and then slowly pouring it over the entirety of the mate until the gourd is full. Each guest drinks a full gourd and returns it to the host to be refilled with hot water and passed to the next guest until all flavor is gone. Repeat.