Going Beyond Coffee
Maté is from the Ilex paraguariensis plantof the holly family and is not related to Camellia sinensis, the origin of which white, green, oolong, and black teas. The plant is native to South America and can be harvested year round. The brewed drink is known as chimarrão, or cimarron, and is both steeped and consumed from calabash gourd. A metal (traditionally silver) filter straw known as a bomba (also known as bombilla) is used to consume the chimarrão without consuming the leaves. Chimarrãois usually consumed as a social beverage where the gourd will be passed from person to person for a sip of the beverage until empty.
Two popular forms of maté have developed: the traditional green maté (referred to as yerba maté) and the brown maté (referred to as roasted maté). The brewed yerba maté produces a lemony, vegetal flavor while the roasted mate variety produces a cocoa-like flavor. Maté tea is high in the energizing category due to a stimulant compounds known as xanthines. Specifically, maté contains the xanthines caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, the energizing compounds found in coffee, chocolate, and tea (Camellia sinensis), respectively, but all in one cup of maté. Occasionally in literature, these energizing compounds, along with other accessory energizing alkaloid compounds, are collectively referred to as matéine. Many maté drinkers claim the symphony of matéine compounds to provide a more energizing experience than coffee without the “jitters.”
Energizing Power Hierarchy:
Maté Caffeine level: 80-92 mg per 6 oz. cup
Coffee Caffeine level: 100-120 mg per 6 oz. cup
Note: Studies have reported that mate contains up to 92 mg (15 mg/oz)1 of caffeine per 6 oz. cup; however, in the methods of traditional intake, drinkers receive up to 260 mg of caffeine.2
The production of maté is fairly simple compared to teas from the Camellia sinensis plant. After the harvest there are three stages of processing:
1. Supeco: As an enzyme kill stage, the goal is to cease basal enzymatic activity by lightly toasting the leaves, still on their branches, over an open fire.
2. Barbaqua: The leaves are moved to a rotating drum that is heated by burning wood. This is a slow process and can take anywhere from 5 to 15 hours.3 Traditionally, the leaves (while still on the branches) were suspended over a moderate open fire for half a day.
3. The leaves undergo a final drying and are then separated from the branch and ground up.
Maté tea is best brewed with hot water just under boiling at 210°F (99°C) for 5-6 minutes. The tea is great for multiple infusions and even capable of brewing in a coffee machine or microwave.
Traditionally, maté is brewed in a communal calabash gourd that is passed from person to person. The leaves are left in the gourd and re-steaped with hot water multiple times.
Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, C and E
Minerals: potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, phosphorus, and zinc
Trending Scientific Research
Maté Tea (Ilex paraguariensis) Promotes Satiety and Body Weight Lowering in Mice: Involvement of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1
Protective effects of maté tea (Ilex paraguariensis) on H2O2-induced DNA damage and DNA repair in mice
1) Heck, C.I. and De Mejia, E.G. (2007), Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex paraguariensis): A Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations. Journal of Food Science, 72: R138–R151. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00535.x
3) *Spiller, Gene A. Caffeine. Boca Raton, FL: CRC P, 1998. 196.