by jenny sansouci
Yerba Mate (pronounced “yerba mah-tay”) is a term I’ve heard thrown around a few times as a healthier alternative to coffee, but I never got around to trying it until today. This afternoon I went to brunch at the Roebling Tea Room and spotted Yerba Mate on their menu. I decided to give it a try.
Almost immediately after drinking my Yerba Mate (which was served in a teabag and steeped in hot water), I felt energized. It was a different energy than I feel after I drink coffee. It wasn’t a nervous or jittery energy, and it didn’t give me the subtle anxiety that comes with a strong cup of coffee. It made me feel alert yet relaxed and at ease. I knew I’d found something worth researching a little more!
I came home today and did some more research on Yerba Mate. Here’s what I found:
Yerba Mate is a South American herbal beverage, brewed from the leaves and stems of a holly plant from the South American rain forest. It is known as the “Drink of the Gods” and consumed for optimum health. It can be found in teabag form, to be steeped in a cup of hot water – or you can brew it like coffee (in a coffee maker!) in its loose form. Traditionally, it is sipped from a gourd and shared among family and friends.
According to herbalist, Yerba Mate is used for the following:
- Boost immunity
- Cleanse and detoxify the blood
- Tone the nervous system
- Restore youthful hair color
- Slow aging process
- Combat fatigue
- Stimulate the mind
- Control the appetite
- Reduce effects of disease
- Reduce stress
- Eliminate insomnia
Wow! In addition, Yerba Mate contains:
- Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5
- Minerals: calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus
- Additional Compounds: fatty acids, chlorophyll, flavonols, polyphenols, trace minerals, antioxidants and fifteen amino acids.
Yerba Mate does contain caffeine, but about 1/3 as much as coffee – and most people claim to be affected differently by this type of caffeine (no anxiety, jitters, or crashing). This is thought to be because of the high amount of nutrients in Yerba Mate, which balances out the caffeine and makes it much less harsh on the body than coffee.
All of these things, in my opinion, make Yerba Mate a healthier alternative to coffee. Coffee (although I do love it!) is very acidic, gives our nervous system high levels of forced stimulation and creates stress and damage to our immune system. It can also block our bodies from absorbing minerals and vitamins. But listen, I’m not telling you to give up your coffee – I’m just saying its smart to switch it up once in awhile and test your body’s reaction to healthy alternatives. See how you feel. There’s even a Java Mate flavor that tastes more like coffee.
What I came across that interested me most were testimonials I read of people who had switched from coffee to Yerba Mate. Here are some of the excerpts from Guayaki.com:
“I was drinking 3-4 large cups of coffee per day and seemed to be getting worse and worse. Exhausted and feeling really unhealthy. I came across Yerba Mate and within that first couple days, I noticed right away that I felt completely different. Not only did I feel awake, I felt like a young kid again, with energy from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning!”
“It’s smooth and energizing in a very clear, natural way.”
“I fly through dreaded chores, and find that my mental acuity is much sharper and it is easier to function in stressful situations.”
“I would never go back to coffee now — it aggravates my throat and makes me tense. Mate makes me feel awake, alive, and still hydrated and relaxed!”
“The jitters from coffee are unbearable compared to the mellow, soothing effects of my morning mate.”
“I have just recently started drinking Yerba Mate and I am totally amazed by it. I purchased a pound of the traditional organic mate and I instantly fell in love with the first brew. I am in college now and the first thing i go for in in the morning is the mate. It helps me in the morning with energy, vitality, and concentration.”
Well, all of this information was more than enough to get me to purchase some. I’ve decided to drink Yerba Mate instead of coffee from now on.