This Superfood Tea Is an Anti-Inflammatory Superhero
Never heard of yerba mate? You will soon.
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?
Yerba mate tea is made from the leaves of a holly tree native to the South American Atlantic rainforest. Its leaves are harvested by cultivators (known as yerbateros) from small farms and indigenous communities in Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. After they've been dried and ground up, the yerba mate leaves are traditionally steeped in hot water inside of a gourd and enjoyed.
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 .
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. That post-lunch lethargy is the hardest fight to battle in the middle of the work day—if you can relate, try drinking tea instead of coffee.
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. Yerba mate's nutrient profile boasts B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, and potassium. Also, 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 yerba 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 reduce your risk of heart disease."
Wondering how to drink yerba mate?
"In Argentina, most 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.
Where can you 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.