What is Yerba Mate Tea? Getting to Know Yerba Mate

What is yerba mate tea? Yerba mate may not be a household name yet in many parts of the world, but this beverage is rapidly growing in popularity in North America, Europe, and Asia - many hundreds of years after South Americans discovered this amazingly healthful beverage!

Keep reading to learn more about yerba mate and some of the reasons why this herbal tea is finding a home in so many tea cupboards around the world.

What is Yerba Mate? One of South America's favorite beverages

Yerba mate (also called simply 'mate') is a very flavorful, slightly astringent herbal tea made from the dried leaves (and often the young stems) of the Ilex paraguariensis shrub, a member of the holly (Aquifoliaceae) family that is native to parts of South America. Ilex paraguariensis is found in the wild and is also cultivated on plantations to produce yerba mate. 

Argentinian Yerba Mate Plantation

For centuries, yerba mate has been enjoyed by indigenous peoples in South America for its satisfying taste and its many health and wellness benefits (to boost energy, strengthen the immune system, detoxify, and much more). 

Today, mate is still a beloved, highly popular beverage in many parts of South America (in Argentina, for example, mate is consumed in about 92% of households). As in other parts of the world, where coffee time and teatime are important daily and social rituals, so do many South Americans relish their mate and its many, many health benefits

What is Yerba Mate? A beverage to prepare and enjoy any way you'd like!

Yerba mate can be prepared from the plant's fresh green leaves, from dried ground leaves, or from roasted leaves. What the drink is called depends on its preparation and the region or country in which it's being served, too.

For example, mild mate cocido is brewed green leaves (usually in a teabag), mate tea is brewed roasted leaves, and dried, crumbled green mate leaves can be brewed with hot water into chimarrão or with cold water into tererê

Traditionally and still today in South America, mate is sipped from a dried gourd (also called a mate) through a metal straw with a filter tip (called a bombilla). Once the dried mate leaves are packed into the gourd, hot (not boiling) water is poured over to make the tea, which can then be sweetened, if desired. More hot water is added as the tea is drunk. (You'll find a traditional yerba mate recipe here.)

What is Yerba Mate Tea?

In other parts of the world, yerba mate (like other types of tea) is made from loose, dried leaves or teabags. And, due to its caffeine content (mate has about 70 - 85 mg caffeine per 8 oz. cup) and numerous beneficial properties (like helping to lose weight and boosting energy), yerba mate is becoming a common and very popular additive in other foods, beverages, and dietary supplements. 

Enjoy mate just as you would coffee or tea - served hot or iced, as is or with flavoring, your favorite milk, or sweetener added. Mate is also delicious in a latte or soda! Some people do find mate 'straight up' to be too strong or even bitter, so you may want to experiment with adding extras to your tea, or try one of the many flavored yerba mate teas available until you find the perfect tea for you.

What is Yerba Mate? A health and wellness powerhouse tea

A tea that is delicious, fragrant, and filled with benefits for good health is hard to resist! Yerba mate is one of these teas - tasty, versatile, and healthful, this tea may be an excellent choice to include in your tea cupboard.

What are some of the ways this naturally caffeinated tea may enhance health and wellbeing? Mate provides support for overall physical and mental wellness - it's brimming with antioxidants, is a heart-healthy drink, boosts physical and mental energy, stimulates and tones the digestive system, can support weight loss, relieves insomnia, is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and so much more!

Ready to try yerba mate?

You'll find delicious recipes for this wonderful herbal tea on our Yerba Mate Recipes pages. Whether you prefer mate hot, iced, or in a latte, you'll find a recipe here!

You'll find lots more information about how very good mate is for health on our Yerba Mate Benefits pages

Now that you know a bit more about yerba mate, why not give this herbal tea a try? So very healthful and tasty served hot or cold, with or without a sweetener of choice, in your favorite mug or a traditional gourd, yerba mate is a versatile drink that provides a host of benefits for good health. 

As always, please check with your healthcare professional before you add any new tea or herbal tisane to your family's routine, just to be sure it's a good choice for your household.

Yerba Mate Benefits & You!

What do you think of yerba mate? If you've tried this herbal tea, why not share your thoughts and opinions about yerba mate benefits for health and wellness with our other readers? We'd love to hear what you think! Click here to join the conversation and share your experience with mate. 

And, why not drop by our Yerba Mate Side Effects pages for more information, too, to stay informed about some potential concerns associated with this tea. 

More about Yerba Mate Benefits

Yerba Mate Benefits - If you enjoy herbal teas, you'll be hard pressed to find a healthier, more beneficial herbal tea than mate! Read more about the many ways this tea can benefit your physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Yerba Mate Benefits & You! - What do you think of yerba mate tea? Why not share your thoughts and opinions about yerba mate and its health benefits with our other readers? And, see what other visitors to our site have to say about mate, as well. 

Side Effects of Yerba Mate - Mate is brimming with health and wellness benefits, but be sure to stay informed about any potential side effects of yerba mate before you add this tea to your day. 

Yerba Mate for Weight Loss - If you've been thinking of losing a few pounds for health reasons or just to feel a bit better about yourself, here are some of the reasons yerba mate for weight loss might be a good choice for you.

Yerba Mate Recipes - Whether you'd like to learn more about making yerba mate the 'traditional' way, are interested in trying iced mate, or are craving a steamy yerba mate latte, you'll find a recipe here.

What is Yerba Mate? - Get to know the South American Ilex paraguariensis shrub and the flavorful herbal tea made from its dried leaves. 


Andersen T, Fogh J. Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum Nutr Diet. Jun 2001;14(3):243-250. 

Arbiser JL, Li XC, Hossain CF, et al. Naturally occurring proteasome inhibitors from mate tea (Ilex paraguayensis) serve as models for topical proteasome inhibitors. J Invest Dermatol. Aug 2005;125(2):207-212.

Bastos DHM, Oliveira DM, Matsumoto RLT, Carvalho P, Ribero ML. Yerba maté: Pharmacological Properties, Research and Biotechnology. Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology. 2007; 1(1), 37-46. http://www.globalsciencebooks.

Bixby M, Spieler L, Menini T, Gugliucci A. Ilex paraguariensis extracts are potent inhibitors of nitrosative stress: a comparative study with green tea and wines using a protein nitration model and mammalian cell cytotoxicity. Life Sci. 2005 Jun 3;77(3):345-58. Epub 2005 Feb 9.

Conforti AS, Gallo ME, Saravi FD. Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) consumption is associated with higher bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Bone. Jan 2012;50(1):9-13.  

Gonzalez de Mejia E, Song YS, Ramirez-Mares MV, et al. Effect of yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) tea on topoisomerase inhibition and oral carcinoma cell proliferation. J Agric Food Chem. Mar 23 2005;53(6):1966-1973. 

Harrold JA, Hughes GM, O’Shiel K, et al. Acute effects of a herb extract formulation and inulin fibre on appetite, energy intake and food choice. Appetite. Mar 2013;62:84-90.  

Heck CI, De Mejia EG. Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations. Journal of Food Science. Nov/Dec 2007;72(9):R138-R151. 

Klein, GA et al. Mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) improves glycemic and lipid profiles of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes individuals: A pilot study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Oct; 30(5):320-32.  

Loria D, Barrios E, Zanetti R. Cancer and yerba mate consumption: a review of possible associations. Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2009 Jun;25(6):530-9.  

Miranda DD, Arcari DP, Pedrazzoli J, Jr., et al. Protective effects of mate tea (Ilex paraguariensis) on H2O2-induced DNA damage and DNA repair in mice. Mutagenesis. Jul 2008;23(4):261-265. 

Puangpraphant S, Berhow MA, Vermillion K, et al. Dicaffeoylquinic acids in Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis St. Hilaire) inhibit NF-kappaB nucleus translocation in macrophages and induce apoptosis by activating caspases-8 and -3 in human colon cancer cells. Mol Nutr Food Res. Oct 2011;55(10):1509-1522. 

Santos I, Matijasevich A, Valle N. Maté Drinking during Pregnancy and Risk of Preterm and Small for Gestational Age Birth. J. Nutr. May 1, 2005; 135(5):1120-1123.    

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