Eating Green

Yerba Mate (pronounced mah-tay) is a beverage traditionally consumed in South America that takes the place of coffee for most people. It is a tea made from the leaves of the mate plant, which comes naturally caffeinated and loaded with other nutrients.

Unlike coffee, which increases acidity in the body and can overstimulate the adrenal glands, mate releases caffeine slowly, providing long-term energy.

The dried leaves, taken from the holly tree in South American rainforests, were historically known to help in mental clarity and general health. Argentine gauchos called it their “liquid vegetable,” but these ideas on supreme health were only recently backed up by science.

Researchers at the University of Illinois found that mate contains more antioxidants than any other tea and the Paris Scientific Society said, “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value.”

In addition to antioxidants, mate provides vitamins A, C, E and several of the B vitamins in addition to minerals and essential amino acids that help build proteins.

Mate can be prepared in the same way as coffee or tea. Traditionally, it is consumed out of a gourd using a special straw called a bombilla that separates the liquid from the mate leaves. It is served hot or cold and often with milk and honey.