How do I choose a Yerba Mate?
Baffled by the choice of yerba? Yerba mate can be mild, strong, sweet, bitter, flavoured. Here is a quick guide to the main types of yerba to help you choose. Remember you can make your own blend by combining different types (this is common practice in South America)
With Stems (con palos)
This is a milder type of yerba mate and contains small, chopped-up stems, so the infusion isn’t as strong or bitter. The stems serve to ‘dilute’ the yerba. This blend is more popular in Paraguay and Argentina. The very mildest types are the Paraguayan brands with a higher percentage of stems and is suitable to be made with hot or cold water, or with juice (Terere). GOOD FOR BEGINNERS!!
Without Stems (sin palos)
This will brew a stronger tea because it is more concentrated, and is more popular in Uruguay. It also has a more intense flavour. If you are after a more bitter taste or a stronger pick-me-up, you would be best to choose this type of yerba mate.
This is a popular choice, and many flavours are available. The most popular are lemon or orange, but there is also grapefruit, honey, citrus, herbal, mint, eucalyptus, peach, guarana… even coffee! Flavoured yerba mate is especially nice when sweetened. GOOD FOR BEGINNERS!
Tea bags (Cocido/Saquitos)
These have the same taste as traditionally brewed yerba mate, but are easy to use – more convenient. They are also available in flavoured varieties. GOOD FOR BEGINNERS!
Many types of yerba mate are available with a specialist quality. While all yerbas have the same base health benefits, some are blended specifically to augment certain qualities e.g. anti-acid, good for liver, lower cholesterol, organic, weight loss, regulate bowels, help you sleep, give you energy… the list is endless!
This can be achieved by adding sugar or sweetener to the gourd directly over the yerba mate.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba Mate is a type of tea, made from dried leaves andstems from a yerba mate plant. It is slightly less potent than coffee and much gentler on the stomach.
The infusion is traditionally prepared by steeping the tea leaves in very hot water rather than boiling water like black tea or coffee. A hollow gourd (mate in Spanish or cabaça or cuia in Portuguese) made from a dried fruit casing or wood (or even horn) is normally used. It is filled nearly to the top with tea leaves, then each time water is poured in, the drinker sips through a metal straw (bombilla in Spanish, bomba or canudo in Portuguese).
Drinking yerba mate is an important, common social practice in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, eastern Chile, southern Bolivia and Brazil. Drinkers in these countries usually share the mate, each taking turns to drink, with one person serving from a flask.
More recently it has become popular in the rest of the world, especially due to the many health benefits of drinking Yerba Mate. These include:
- Aids Weight loss
- Contains vitamins and minerals
- Stimulates the body and mind
- Strengthens the heart
- Reduces wrinkles
- Aids digestion
- Boosts the immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Aids memory and concentration