Yerba mate is a popular beverage in South America. According to the Yerba Mate Association of the Americas (YMAA), yerba mate is prepared by steeping the dried, ground leaves from a type of holly tree found in South America. Fans of yerba mate claim that it offers more antioxidants than black or green teas. Yerba mate also contains caffeine and a cup of the beverage provides approximately 40 mg of caffeine, about a third of the amount found in a cup of coffee.
Purchase ground yerba mate at your local health food store. It is most commonly sold in either loose leaf or tea bag forms. If you do buy the loose leaf yerba mate, be sure to also purchase a metal tea strainer to hold the leaves.
Fill a tea pot with cool, fresh water and place it on the stove over medium heat. Heat the water until it is hot and steaming, but not boiling. Remove the tea pot from the stove.
Unwrap a tea bag of yerba mate. If you are using a tea strainer, put 1/2 to 1 tbsp. of the loose leaf yerba mate into the strainer and snap it closed. You may use more or less yerba mate depending on how strong you like your cup. Briefly run your tea bag or tea strainer under cool water. According to Eco Teas, a manufacturer of yerba mate, rinsing the yerba mate with cool water before brewing can help preserve the antioxidants.
Place your tea bag or tea strainer into a mug and pour hot water from the tea pot into the mug.
Let the yerba mate steep in the hot water for at least five minutes before drinking. After five minutes, remove the tea bag or strainer and enjoy your glass of yerba mate.
Prepare loose leaf yerba mate in a traditional drip coffee machine if you need multiple servings. Place a coffee filter into the coffee machine along with 4 tbsp. of yerba mate and follow the directions for your particular coffee maker. Adding 4 tbsp. can make 12 cups in a drip coffee maker. Add an additional 1 or 2 tbsp. of yerba mate if you prefer it stronger.
According to the YMAA, yerba mate is traditionally consumed throughout South America in a gourd and sipped through a metal straw. It is often part of social activities and is passed around among guests.
According to Katherine Zeratsky, a dietitian with the Mayo Clinic, regularly drinking yerba mate may increase your risk of developing lung or esophageal cancer, especially if you are a smoker. More research is needed on this potential connection, but you may want to avoid yerba mate if you are a smoker.