Maté is an incredibly interesting and ancient tea that is famed in South America for its health and energetic properties. It seems to be gaining global popularity with cafés popping up in most major cities; sparking interest for those riding the health conscious wave and causing hipsters to lose their top knots over it. If you love your morning caffeine hit but could do without the jitters and mini heart attacks, read on because this may be for you too!
Known as the “South American's green tea”, it is said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the joy of chocolate. Legend has it that the goddesses of the moon and clouds came down to visit earth, during which an elderly farmer saved them from a vicious jaguar. As a reward the goddesses gifted him the yerba maté plant for him to introduce to the world.
It Has a Clean Caffeine Kick
Coffee and maté have pretty much the same caffeine content, coffee contains 85mg per cup and maté contains 78mg per cup. The difference is that maté hosts large amounts of theobromine. Theobromine lowers blood pressure and counteracts the anxiety and raised heart rate caffeine tends to give you, allowing your body to stay in balance so you can sneak an extra cup or six.
It's So Good For You
Regardless of where you stand on the “is coffee good or bad for you” debate, there is no denying that maté is head and shoulders above its western counterpart when it comes to health benefits. It actually contains just about every single vitamin and mineral your body needs and has 7 of all the 9 essential amino acids. On top of that, it improves mental focus and energy, strengthens your immune system, boosts your metabolism, burns fat passively and enhances your physical performance.
The Drink of Friendship
In South America mate is a symbol of the bond of friendship and is often consumed in a ritualistic way amongst friends and family. This time sipping together is a reminder to live in the moment and enjoy eachothers company. If you really want to have an authentic maté/mate experience then get a group of friends together, and follow these instructions, to host your own ritual (no animal sacrifices or virgins needed).
Maté is drunk from a small cup called a gourd or calabash. The drinker uses a bombilla, a metal straw with a filter at its end, to sip the tea without ingesting any leaf fragments. The bottom third of the vessel is filled with maté leaves and topped with hot (not boiling) water. The tea is sometimes served with burnt sugar, lemon juice or hot milk and can be topped up with water several times before needing to change the tea. If you don't happen to have a traditional gourd or bombilla sitting in your cupboard then a french press will work just fine.
Although maybe a bit unique, maté is really worth checking out and discovering for yourself. I've really developed a taste for its bitterness and the vitality it adds to my day. Keep in mind that a normal latté has as much fat as a doughnut, so let's consider getting hyped up on this ancient blend more often.