Yerba Mate Teas
Yerba mate (pronounced Yare-Ba Mah-Tay) llex paraguariensis, or hierba mate, or erva mate in Portuguese, sometimes called simply "mate", is a shrub in the holly family Aquifoliaceae, native to South America, used as a tea. Like other teas, it is dried, chopped, and ground into a powderous mixture. Unlike other teas, mate is traditionally sipped from of a hollow gourd, through a special metal straw (traditionally silver) called a bombilla (bom-BEE-ya or bom-BEE-zha in argentinian pronunciation). "Bombilla" means, literally, "little pump" or "straw" in Spanish. The plant is grown mainly in South America, more specifically in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and South Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul). The Guarani are reputed to be the first people who cultivated the plant.
Ritual of Mate�
Mate is traditionally drunk in a particular social setting. One individual assumes the task of server. This person typically fills the gourd and drinks its contents completely. The server subsequently refills the gourd and passes it to the next drinker who likewise drinks it all. The ritual proceeds around the circle in this fashion until the mate is exhausted, typically after the gourd has been filled about ten times. Nowadays, mate is also toasted and prepared in a similar manner to black tea. You can easily find "tea bags", prepacked "iced tea" packages and bottles in Brazil.
Components of Mate
Mate contains xanthines, which are alkaloids in the same family as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in coffee and chocolate. Sellers of mate products often claim that the primary active xanthine in mate is "mateine", which they say is similar to caffeine but with fewer of its negative effects; some mate products are marketed as "caffeine-free" alternatives to traditional coffee and tea. Chemically speaking, however, "mateine" is simply another name for caffeine. Researchers at Florida International University in Miami have found that yerba mate does contain caffeine, but some people seem to tolerate it better than coffee or tea. It is however generally established that yerba mate's caffeine content is minimal - researchers from the Free Hygienic Institute of Hamburg, Germany, concluded in their studies of yerba mate that its caffeine content is so meager that it would require 100 tea bags worth of mate brewed in a 6-ounce cup of water to equal the amount of caffeine in a 6-ounce serving of conventional coffee.
Health Benefits of Mate�
From reports of personal experience with mate, its physiological effects are similar to yet distinct from more widespread caffeinated beverages like coffee or tea. Users report a mental state of wakefulness, focus and alertness reminiscent of most stimulants, but often remark on mate's unique lack of the the negative effects typically created by other such compounds, such as anxiety, diarrhea, "jitteriness," and heart palpitations. Reasons for mate's unique physiological attributes are beginning to emerge in scientific research. Studies of mate, though very limited, have shown prelimary evidence that the substance is different from other caffeinated beverages most significantly in its effects on muscle tissue, as opposed to those on the central nervous system, which are similar to those of other natural stimulants. Mate has been shown to have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, and a stimulating effect on myocardial (heart) tissue, though these effects are anecdotally claimed to be of a lesser degree than those of caffeine. Additionally, many users report that drinking yerba mate does not prevent them from being able to fall asleep, as is often the case with some more common stimulating beverages, while still enhancing their energy and ability to remain awake at will. Mate is very high in Potassium, Magnesium and Manganese and is a great way to stay energized.