Never heard of yerba mate? You will soon.

By Betty Gold
July 30, 2019

Argentinian yerba mate is one of the next big tea trends on the horizon, and it’s about to become your next healthy (caffeinated!) beverage of choice. But what is it, exactly? 

A tea made from the leaves of the yerba mate tree native to Argentina, yerba mate has been enjoyed in Argentina for many centuries for good reason: it’s a rich source of powerful antioxidants (even more than green tea!) and packed with B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, potassium and manganese, says registered dietitian Keri Glassman. Here are a few more reasons Glassman says we should all be saying yes to yerba mate.

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 mg of caffeine, which falls just a tiny bit below the 85 mg 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. That post-lunch lethargy is the hardest fight to battle in the middle of the work day—if you know what I’m talking about, try drinking tea instead of coffee.

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 has been shown to be even higher than green tea. Mate’s nutrient profile boasts B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, potassium, and manganese, and its primary compound, chlorogenic acid, is a polyphenol that acts as an antioxidant in the body.”

Better circulation and liver detox.

Thanks to your liver, your body has its own natural detoxification system, but mate can be of extra help. It has been found to be "hepatoprotective," which translates to "protecting your liver cells," and has 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 potential to lower heart disease."

Wondering how to drink yerba mate?

"In Argentina, basically 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. However, 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 feeling coffee or tea? The versatile ingredient can be added to a multitude of food and even cocktail recipes for a tasty superfood boost. We like Yerba Mate Coconut Smoothie, Cold Brew Yerba Mate, and Cucumber Mint Mate Spritzer.

Where can you buy yerba mate?

Argentinian Yerba Mate can be found in specialty tea stores and in select Whole Foods Markets across the U.S, or online.