Posted by: ktzefr | June 23, 2014

5 Quick Facts about Yerba Mate, Brazil’s tea…

Real tea drinkers look to India for Assam and Darjeeling leaves, Sri Lanka for the “champagne” of Ceylon teas, and China for some of the world’s best black, green, white, and oolong brews. 

What about Brazil?  Though several South American countries grow and produce black tea, most of the leaves, including those grown in Brazil, are primarily used for tea bag blends.  Our neighbors to the south, however, have mate which is considered by many to be as strong as coffee, as healthy as tea, and as tasty as chocolate.  Personally, I don’t think anything is quite as tasty as chocolate, and the health benefits, too, are iffy. 


5 Quick Facts…

— Yerba mate comes from a shrub in the holly family that is native to South America.  The leaves are dried, chopped, and ground for brewing. 

— The drink is usually sipped from a hollow gourd through a bombilla (a metal straw — traditionally silver). 

— The Guarani people (one of the largest indigenous groups in South America) are believed to be the first to cultivate the plant. 

— Some claim that it relieves stress, eases depression, stops headaches, and treats various other ailments.

— The leaves contain vitamins and minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.  Despite the notion, however, that mate is called an “herbal” tea, it does contain caffeine.  It also contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to be carcinogenic.  (Tobacco smoke and grilled meat also contain PAHs.)


I doubt too many soccer fans will be interested in trading their beer and pizza party for a mate-sipping get together to watch the World Cup, but just in case…

The Tao of Tea sells several varieties of mate, all 100% organic (note: “organic” does NOT mean the caffeine and PAHs, etc. have been removed).  Three types, Brazilian Green Mate, Roasted Mate, and Chimarrao are all from farms in Southern Brazil.

I’m a “real” tea drinker, so I’m not switching to mate, but food is another story.  Check out Smithsonian Magazine’s five great Brazilian dishes that are perfect for a World Cup party.




  1. I enjoy a good cup of mate every now and then and, as a collector of teapots, I’d LOVE to get my hands on a really great bombilla. It’s on my wish list.

    • Amazon has several sets with gourd and bombilla. Don’t know how good they are, however.

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