This Superfood Tea Is an Anti-Inflammatory Hero

Not drinking yerba mate yet? You should be.

From bubble tea to functional tea (customized for wellness), tea trends continue to arrive at a fast clip. Yerba mate is one of the lesser-known ones, but it's worth looking into. So…what is it, exactly?

Yerba mate tea is made from the leaves of a holly tree native to the South American Atlantic rainforest. It's harvested by cultivators (known as yerbateros) from small farms and indigenous communities in Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. After the yerba mate leaves have been dried and ground up, they're traditionally steeped in hot water inside of a gourd.

The tea has been enjoyed in South America for many centuries, and for good reason. Yerba mate packs a deliciously strong, earthy, complex flavor that many describe as euphoric. And according to registered dietitian Keri Glassman, yerba mate is also a rich source of powerful antioxidants (even more than green tea!) and packed with B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, potassium, and manganese. Here are a few more reasons Glassman says we should all be partaking.

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Mindful Morning Energy and Focus

Yerba mate can be part of a healthy morning routine, similar to the way you would enjoy a cup of coffee. "One cup of yerba mate contains 78 milligrams of caffeine, which falls just a tiny bit below the 85 milligrams that you get from a regular old cuppa joe," says Glassman. "But unlike coffee, many people who drink yerba mate report that the caffeine kick is more gradual." In other words, it gives you lasting, sustained energy rather than a spike and a crash. Because you'll likely feel less of a jittery kick after sipping it, yerba mate is a great type of tea for a mid-day boost. Consider trying it instead of that second cup of coffee.

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Reduced Inflammation

Mate is rich in powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and polyphenols, and researchers think it may be particularly good at reducing inflammation. According to Glassman, "its antioxidant capacity is even higher than green tea."

RELATED: 7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat Every Day for Long-Term Health and Happiness

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Better Circulation, Digestion, and Liver Detox

Thanks to your liver, your body has its own natural detoxification system, but yerba mate can offer extra help. It's considered "hepatoprotective," which translates to "protecting your liver cells." Yerba mate has also shown potential as a digestive aid. "Yerba mate is capable of vaso relaxation, or the dilating of your blood vessels, meaning it increases your body's healthy circulation," says Glassman. "Similar to red wine in this way, it has the potential to reduce your risk of heart disease."

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How to Drink Yerba Mate

"In Argentina, mostly everyone drinks it socially by passing around a cup called a gourd and sipping through a bombilla, which is essentially a fancy straw," says Glassman. In the U.S. it is more commonly steeped using loose leaves and a strainer or a French press, just as you would with your regular coffee or tea. Not a coffee or tea drinker? The versatile ingredient can be added to a multitude of food and even cocktail recipes for a tasty superfood boost.

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Where To Buy Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate can be found in specialty tea stores and in select grocery stores (like Whole Foods) across the U.S., or online.

RELATED: 11 Easy Iced Tea Upgrades You'll Want to Sip All Summer Long

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