Yerba Mate Is A Natural Energy Drink

Yerba Mate Is A Natural Energy Drink

Traditional South American beverage Yerba mate has become popular over the last few years for it’s reputation of being a high caffeine drink that doesn’t come with a jittery buzz. It is purported to be health-enhancing, but recent claims that it might be a carcinogen have devotees worried.Photo by Sean Kelly.

A member of the holly plant family, the leaves of the Yerba mate plant are harvested and dried much like that of tea leaves. The beverage is produced by infusing the leaves with hot water, and it is traditionally served in a hollowed-out gourd with a metal straw. The flavour of mate is similar to that of green tea, and was in fact recommended as a wake-up tea in our recent coffee lover’s guide to tea.

Health blog LovingFit describes the benefits of Mate.

Yerba Mate has properties similar to caffeine which provides incredibly clear energy levels and mental alertness.

The stimulant this energy comes from, is a unique form of xanthine (a stimulant in coffee ). It’s like coffee that’s stripped from of the negative effects and only left with a positive. It stimulates the central nervous system without being addictive or give you anxieties. Unlike caffeine, Yerba Mate induces better sleep.

This tea provided enough nutrients to act as a vegetable. Some people refer to it as a ‘drinking a salad.’

Other benefits shown in studies include properties that lessen obesity in a high-starch diet, provides a reduction in LDL cholesterol to those on statin therapy, and may help in treating heart disease. The studies that indicate it as a potential carcinogen mostly point to traditional practices of drinking mate at a very hot temperature as well as the drying process of the leaves, which involves curing with smoke from the burning of wood. Drinking mate in moderation at a reasonable temperature is seen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans”.

Yerba mate, though slightly controversial, seems to most to be a great way to ingest caffeine and increase health. As always you should consult with your doctor if you have any concerns.


  • Besides possibility as carcinogen, like coffee, by time, caffeine dependency may occur. The thing that gives you kick on yerba mate is caffeine and it is found to have more than in coffee or strongest tea.

    I’d stick with black tea for now.

      • From the looks of it, Caffeine is a type of xanthine – and the main one present in Mate.

        So It’s wrong when it says: “It stimulates the central nervous system without being addictive or give you anxieties. Unlike caffeine, Yerba Mate induces better sleep.”

        It’s a stimulant, it’s addictive, and it doesn’t really induce better sleep…it’s just caffeine, though at lower levels than you find in most tea.

      • Caffeine is naturally occurring in the tea leaf. If you check the ingredients, caffeine is not listed. However , people who are caffeine sensitive still have to be careful and use in moderation.

        Hope this helps,

  • I have been to Argentina 7 times and each time I go I am surprised by the amount of Mate being consumed by everyone.
    Over there it’s less of a way to stay awake as a way to meet with friends. 4 or 5 people will usually get together and drink from the same gourd creating a sense of friendship and closeness within the group.
    Mate itself mostly tasted like green tea to me and I loved having some every now and again but I still prefer my coffee hit as Mate seams to work a lot slower.

  • I agree with the above – in Argentina and Uruguay the ubiquitous drinking of this stuff makes it look like it’s extremely addictive. People carry their gourd a supply of mate everywhere and seem to be consuming it more than people in other countries consume anything else – coffee, tea, alcohol – apart from perhaps cigarettes. Yes, mate sippers looked exactly like cigarette smokers: “I always make sure I have some with me, I stop for some regularly, irrespective of the situation”.

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad for you just based on that, and I acknowledge the social aspect of it, but it should come with a warning: once you start, you might not find it easy to stop! The buzz you get is obviously pretty good.

  • It’s also extremely good as a digestive, which is why you often have it after a gargantuan asado.
    Josh is spot on when he says it’s more of a social habit. When I studied there, many people said that drinking it alone just wasn’t the same as in a group, which I’m inclined to agree with.

  • Yerba Mate is a social drink just like coffee or tea. Coffee addicts spend their time by themselves or in groups at cafes. Tea drinkers like their sessions as well. Since that coffee has a lot more caffeine, yerba mate is far less addictive that coffee. Tea has the least amount but it has anti oxidants that coffee does not have. Yerba has a lot more anti oxidants than tea. On top of that yerba has a chemical that is present in real chocolate that gives the euphoria that chocolate can do. So putting all this together, it really is an amazing drink.

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