Mate is an infusion, typical of Argentina and Uruguay, whose tradition has spread to other parts of the world for its wonderful health benefits. It is prepared with ground-up yerba mate leaves that are put into a recipient (originally a squash bowl) and hot water is poured in.
You can drink it bitter, with sugar, or with a lemon or orange peel. The truth is that this herb is very good for your body and we will tell you why.
Firstly, we can emphasize two properties in mate: invigorating and cleansing. This is because it has a great diuretic ability, in addition to the amount of water that you drink in this infusion. At the same time, it has antioxidant qualities, is able to reduce “bad” cholesterol (or LDL) and promote an increase in “good” cholesterol (HDL).
Research shows that mate encourages enzymes to work more and protect your body from cardiovascular attacks. It also provides high levels of xanthine, which is very good for your overall well-being. In places where water is not drinkable, mate serves as a purifier of bacteria and parasites, for example.
This traditional infusion of many South American countries boosts attention span and intellectual activities. It is an anti-depressant, is non-addictive, and contains less caffeine than tea, cacao, and coffee. It speeds up urine production, eliminating toxins that build up in your body.
You have to keep in mind that the yerba mate is not intended for anxious people, those with sleep disorders, or acute kidney disorders. However, one study showed that many patients that drank it suffered from esophagus problems due to the temperature of the water, not the mate itself. There are also cases in which drinking mate while fasting has a side effect of stomach acid.
What Are the Variants of Mate?
Although everyone agrees that “traditional mate” is bitter and that the water has to be boiling before you put it in, the truth is that there are other ways of drinking this infusion:
- Bitter: as we already said, this is the most typical way of drinking mate and it is how almost all of Argentina, Uruguay, southern Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay drink it. It is known as “cimarrón” or “feral” because of the horses that accompanied the gaucho, the first drinkers of this infusion.
- Sweet: traditionalists says that this is not the real mate. They put in sugar, stevia, or sweetener in the barley. Mostly women and children in Buenos Aires drink it this way. This variation has a lot to do with immigration because Spaniards and Italians wanted to give their own distinctive touch to the region’s drink.
- With milk: instead of adding water, they add milk with sugar. The milk should be lukewarm.
- With herbs: these are popularly called “yuyos” and are added on top of or in between the yerba mate in the infusion to add a different flavor or to make use of their medicinal properties. For example: chamomile, eucalyptus, mint, boldo, or linden blossom.
- As a tea: the yerba mate isn’t put in recipient but rather a tea bag. It is popular among adolescents and children. You can use a cup as well.
- Tereré: it’s traditional from Paraguay and the Mesopotamia region of Argentina, where the Guarani live. Instead of water, they add juice (which can be orange or grapefruit), herbs (mostly peppermint or lemon verbena) and even lemon slices. It is prepared in a pitcher and is poured over the mate.
- Boiled mate: it is an infusion that comes in bags like tea or in thread as well. It is prepared like normal tea, but it tastes like mate. It is common in Argentina and Uruguay.
How Do I Cleanse My Body By Drinking Mate?
You should simply choose any of the “versions” that this infusion offers and drink it daily. Experts say that if you drink mate in the morning, it increases its qualities and benefits for the body. A lot of people prefer to drink mate for breakfast, with cookies or bread (or muffins as well). Those people whose first meal consists of coffee with milk, croissants or cookies, drink mate afterwards around the middle of the morning. If you think that it doesn’t have a good flavor, you can try sweetening it or drinking the tereré alternative with juice on hot summer days.
Pictures courtesy of Juan Pablo Olmo