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Is Yerba Mate Your Cup Of Tea?

You’ve probably noticed a sign or two at your neighborhood coffee shop promoting yerba mate tea.  Maybe you’ve asked yourself, “What is this stuff?”, looking on curiously as others sip on this unusual cloudy green brew, sitting down with their Mac or a good book, looking completely alert, focused and content.

Here’s a little background for you as you approach the counter to order your first yerba mate.  Yerba mate tea leaves come from a small evergreen shrub that is native to subtropical rainforests of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.   A blend that consists of the dried leaves and stems of the tree is consumed by millions of South Americans daily.  Yerba mate benefits have earned it the distinction of being revered by these cultures as the “drink of the Gods”.  The leaves of the rainforest mate tree are loaded with twenty-four vitamins and minerals, powerful antioxidants and fifteen different amino acids, each necessary to sustain life.

Yerba mate studies suggest that the 196 active compounds in yerba mate tea — antioxidants, polyphenols, flavenoids, bio flavenoids and theophylline — pack more nutritional power than the much-more hyped green tea.  South Americans consume yerba mate six to one over coffee.  Governments have recommended yerba mate tea as a nutritional supplement for financially distressed families to give to their children to boost immune system support, provide allergy relief, alleviate mild to moderate asthma and promote healthy growth and energy for activities.  The cowboys of Argentina (the gauchos) rely on yerba mate’s nutrients for energy and endurance.  People of native forests have persevered through bouts of famine and drought thanks to the yerba mate benefits.

The drinking of yerba mate tea is a traditional social practice in areas like Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern parts of Brazil, where the Mate Circle symbolizes hospitality and goodwill, creating a sense of connection amongst those who partake.  People gather in small groups with friends and family in moments of leisure.  The group shares the same cup of yerba mate tea (typically a hollowed out gourd) and drink from the same metal drinking straw (commonly referred to as a bombilla).  Drinking from the same straw is seen as a sign of unity.  This drinking ritual extends yerba mate benefits beyond just physical nourishment since the practice also enriches the minds, souls and relationships of those participating in the ceremony.

The flavor of brewed yerba mate tea is full bodied with a very agreeable green taste — somewhat vegetal, herbal and grassy — not very far removed from the taste of traditional green tea.  The intensity of the greens can be experienced through yerba mate’s aroma alone, with a smell remindful of freshly cut grass on a summer’s day.  The preparation of yerba mate tea plays a crucial role in its taste.  The taste will become bitter when steeped in boiling water.  It is recommended that hot water be used for yerba mate rather than boiling water.  This way the yerba mate tea will not taste bitter or become harsh when steeped for an extended period of time.  This allows the leaves to be infused several times over and over again by continually refilling the gourd with hot water until the mate tastes flat.

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Outside of South American culture and tradition there has been a heightened interest in yerba mate the past few years.  These days many people are seeking an alternative to that morning standby — a freshly brewed cup of coffee — for alleviating fatigue and stimulating alertness and wakefulness.  Everywhere you look people are gripping canned caffeine fueled energy drinks to kickstart their day.   It’s only natural that yerba mate benefits would appeal to these people seeking an alternative to coffee.  Couple that with the fact that yerba mate tea is generally tolerated better than coffee and other teas, translating into a cleaner “caffeine buzz” without the anxiety, twitches, jitters, stomach upset and heart palpitations associated with coffee’s caffeine rush.

Others are flocking to yerba mate royale for weightloss or weight control because yerba mate studies have linked the brew to achieving a lean toned physique.  Extracts of yerba mate are all the rage in the dietary supplement market for weight loss.  Yerba mate royale for weightloss works by acting as a diuretic by ridding the body of excess water through frequent urination.  Yerba mate benefits also include colon-cleansing properties.  Certain compounds within yerba mate are known to suppress the appetite when taken 15 to 20 minutes before mealtime.  Metabolism becomes faster with yerba mate benefits and an increased caloric burn rate means more fat is burned and the body becomes toned with lean muscle.

Now go ahead and try something new!

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