World famous South American football players have certainly contributed to the fame of this drink. Athletes are always looking for details to positively influence their performance. A healthy body and balance in the rest-work ratio is very important. In sports at the highest level, it is often about small differences. A healthy drink certainly has added value and is therefore part of it.
In Europe, many people start the day with coffee. Often a habit, but does it really give you energy? Of course I can only speak for myself, but I feel it is mainly a habit, with a slightly positive effect on the energy. I didn’t start drinking more coffee until I had kids. A nice coffee machine helped with that. But perhaps also the positive effects on fatigue from all the sleepless nights. Whether it’s a habit or has a real effect is somewhere in the middle for me: it will be a combination of factors, depending on the circumstances and the amount of coffee you drink.
For a long time I have been looking for a drink that gives energy and is tasty. My search has gone through several drinks, but nothing was permanent. Until last year I came into contact with this South American tea, Yerba mate.
The story of this ‘tea’ tree begins with the Native Americans in South America. The soil in South America had been tilled for centuries by a people who called themselves Avá (‘human’). They were called Guariani or ‘one great people’ and went on foot through the Amazon region. They settled in different parts of the continent. Along the way, they learned a lot about the medicinal properties of native plants, including the yerba mate tree.
The yerba mate tree
The yerba mate tree, Ilex paraquariensis , is an evergreen and related to the holly. It can grow to about 18 meters high. It likes rain and can withstand temperatures down to -6 degrees. Originally from mountainous areas, it grows in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Paraguay. The leaves are picked in the wild, but also on plantations.
The original preparation of the yerba mate drink is different from today. In the past, large quantities of leaves were crushed and first placed in cold water. Then hot water was added, releasing all the healthy substances. The liquid was always sieved in between. This process was repeated several times. The drink was usually drunk warm, but could also be drunk cold (especially in summer).
The preparation process now goes as follows: first the leaves are harvested, blanched briefly and then dried. It is then placed in an aging chamber for 12 months to enhance the flavour. Finally it will be packed. Sometimes the leaves are smoked in advance, but that differs per preparation method.
Yerba mate is used medicinally for several purposes: for the positive effects on immunity, the cleansing and detoxifying effect on the blood, fighting fatigue and reducing stress and insomnia.
Various studies have shown that mate contains all the vitamins and minerals we need as humans. In addition to all these substances, yerba mateine contains mateine, a substance that is similar to caffeine, but contains only positive properties, unlike caffeine. Matein has a unique composition. It stimulates the central nervous system, but is not addictive. It relaxes peripheral blood vessels and smooth muscle tissue. The positive consequence of this is that blood pressure drops.
Maté is also known as ‘the drink of the gods’‘. It is seen as a rejuvenating agent par excellence
Even more positive features:
- helps with constipation, stimulates normal intestinal peristalsis.
- is used to lose weight, you have less appetite but you do get all the healthy vitamins and minerals.
- stimulates the mind, improves concentration.
- it reduces mental and physical fatigue and improves mood.
- it regulates the nervous system, brings balance to body and mind.
- brings balance to the sleep cycles: sleep becomes deeper and improves.
- has positive properties in cardiovascular diseases.
- removes waste products from the blood
- it promotes the response of the immune system.
By drinking excessive yerba mate, some indigenous tribes have become very old, sometimes more than a hundred years. Sailors are also known to use yerba mate to prevent scurvy. And another study states that mountaineers can walk for 6 to 7 hours without having to eat in between. At the bottom of this blog I have posted a number of studies.
It thus reduces fatigue, because it has a direct stimulating effect on the metabolism in the muscles. It also has a positive effect on allergies and hay fever because it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids.
And a very important property is that it reduces stress on the body. Which probably arises from the combination of the action on the endocrine system (hormone system), the nervous system and the immune system.
Ceremonial use of mate tea
Yerba mate is an Argentine folk drink. Usually the drink is drunk in company. There are a number of uses for drinking. It is drunk from a gourd with a bombilla, which is a kind of straw. This leaves the herbs behind. The water should not be boiling, but it must have been heated to about 80 degrees. This warm water is added to the herbs. After the mate has settled down and everything is well mixed, the drink is drunk by the hostess. After this, water is again topped up and the visitors drink in turn. This ritual is passed on until the mate is used up. This process mainly stands for friendship and connection.
Make your own mate tea
Choose a large glass and fill it 2/3 with mate (less is of course also allowed). It seems to be very good to first soak the herbs briefly in cold water. Then you pour the (up to 80 degrees) cooled boiled water with the herbs. Let this mixture rest for a while before drinking. The herbs can be used multiple times. Use a tea infuser or bombilla to separate the herbs from the liquid.
For an extra energy boost, you can also add other spices such as ginger. Follow your preferences.