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Mate Tea Health Benefits and Warnings

Updated on May 24, 2017

What is Mate and How to Drink it?

Mate - just like that: with an "e" and with an emphasis on the first syllable. Although, strictly speaking, "mate" - is not the name of the drink exactly, but one of the varieties of pumpkins, from which the cup (or gourd) is made of. However, the name stuck and so it has been popularized in other countries as well as in the motherland of mate.

How Mate Tea is Made

In the US, mate appeared recently, that's why not everyone is personally acquainted with it, and you often hear it being called "tea.” However, in fact, it has nothing to do with the tea tree. It’s made from leaves and young shoots of Paraguayan holly - an evergreen shrub (in the wild - a tree up to 15 meters high), growing in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

During the production of mate the leaves aren’t subjected to any special processing and fermentation, but simply dried, ground and poured into storage containers. The difference with tea is also in the fact that "brewing" holly leaves is very economical - one portion can be poured with water 4-5 times. It’s believed that mate tea "exposes" only after brewing it the second time, and then it becomes even tastier and more saturated.

True, many Americans and Europeans find this drink extremely bitter, and in the classical version, sugar and other sweeteners aren’t added to it.

Culture of Drinking Mate Tea

It’s worth remembering that there is a culture of drinking mate, that is, for example, actively stirring this drink with the straw is considered improper. In addition, it’s not accepted to deny someone who asks you to share already brewed mate ("take a sip" out of your gourd). By the way, that's why in the homeland of this drink, the straws are usually made of silver or covered by it, since this metal kills bacteria.

If a local resident of one of the countries in which mate is common, offers you their gourd, know that it’s a sign of the highest respect and not just a demonstration of hospitality. The Aborigines of South America even have a custom - they gather those who treat each other with due respect, and in a circle they drink mate from a single gourd, accompanying it with peculiar rituals.

By the way, Che Guevara himself was a big fan of Mate!

Benefits of Mate Tea

Mate contains a huge amount of vitamins and trace elements - according to some data, there are about 200 of them. Here are the ones that are listed in sources most often:

  • theobromine, theophylline, tannin, rutin, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, P;
  • Microelements: copper, magnesium, potassium, iron, sodium, manganese;
  • Acids: nicotine, pantothenic, etc.

Some believe that mate protects against colds, helps cope with insomnia, relieves depressive conditions and stabilizes the nervous system. Also attributed to it is a reduction in pain in various diseases, a decrease in appetite and treatment of vitamin deficiency. However, the only property that this drink possesses that is indisputable is the strong energizing effect. It’s due to the fact that its main active ingredient is caffeine, and there is much more of it than we’re used to in coffee. By the way, that is why mate, by definition, can’t be a sedative (hypnotic) drug.

Mate Tea Warnings

Mate is not as harmless as it may seem at first glance. In fact, it’s one of the most sneaky drinks, and it has a large number of warnings. Especially if you don’t have genetic adaptation to it. Despite the fact that we often position Mate as a drink that improves memory, that’s not true. Its excessive use leads to short-term failures and to the deactivation of consciousness, after which it’s almost impossible to restore the memory of the events that took place at some moment.

By the way, the Indians of Mesoamerica valued mate for a certain hallucinogenic effect. Mate affects people with cardiovascular diseases negatively. If you have high blood pressure, arrhythmia and similar diseases, then it’s better not to try it, otherwise, you will simply provoke a hypertensive crisis or a heart attack. Also a warning of drinking mate for those who have any problems with the psyche. Even a few sips of this drink can cause the heart to beat faster, hands become cold, and panic overcomes. So don’t drink Mate when you have a hangover - the result can be unpredictable.

Mate Tea vs Coffee

How to Prepare Mate Tea

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