Mate, a natural drink with multiple origins?
Mate is a drink made from the leaves of a plant called "yerba mate" (Spanish) or "erva mate" (Portuguese). Its scientific name is Ilex Paraguariensi.
This plant is a shrub that can grow up to 20 meters high. It grows only in the border region between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. These three countries are the only producers of mate in the world.
Considered a true national drink in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, mate is a true symbol of sharing, friendship, conviviality and hospitality. It brings people together.
Mate is therefore inseparable from these 3 countries, but it should not be forgotten that it is above all the drink of the Guaranis.
For this Amerindian people, mainly originating from Paraguay, the yerba mate leaves have long been considered as a gift from the gods. It was common to use it as currency, as an offering but also for food consumption. They were consumed in a gourd (similar to the gourds used today) or chewed directly.
Following the arrival of the Spanish in South America, mate spread from Paraguay to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
Today, mate is rooted in the Latin American culture. In Brazil it is called "chimarrão".
The virtues and benefits of Yerba Maté :
Beware, mate is not a tea in the strict sense. It does not come from the plant and therefore does not contain any theine. Nevertheless, it has similar virtues.
A naturally energizing and stimulating drink
Mate is an excellent stimulant, this is due to its high content in :
Caffeine: well known for its stimulating effect. However, mate contains less caffeine than coffee. This avoids undesirable effects.
Theobromine: this is what causes the bitterness of yerba mate. It is also found in cocoa beans. It stimulates the nervous system.
Theophylline: the main active molecule in tea leaves. The stimulating effect of mate is often compared to tea because it diffuses energy over the long term, without a peak in intensity.
Yerba mate leaves contain almost 90% more polyphenols than green tea. This makes it an excellent antioxidant. Thus, it helps boost the immune system and metabolism.
An aid to recovery
All these virtues make mate an excellent drink for recovery after physical effort. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition magazine has demonstrated the significant effects of mate on recovery after exercise.