Preparing Yerba Mate, From Root to Brew

Reader Contribution by Taylor Goggin
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Photo by Lautaro Andreani on Unsplash 

At last an unpredictable year has come to an end. As we are all reflecting on the wild ride it has been we are also ready to shift our gears in motion and begin on a clean, positive slate. We usually plant these seeds of positivity for the year in the form of “resolutions” or “intentions”. If you are still wondering what changes you can incorporate to your daily routine and are interested in trying something new, why not begin this new year drinking yerba mate?

Allow me to explain, yerba mate is a traditional South American herbal beverage made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant. Mate is drunk throughout South America; however, it is the national drink of Argentina and they are the largest producer of mate in the world! Some of you may recognize mate as it is served in a specific cup, called a gourd, and is drunken using a metal straw. The best part? Yerba mate is a stimulating, caffeine-rich beverage that enhances your focus like coffee but without the crash.

Coffee effects without the crash?! Let’s break it down. The caffeine levels in loose leaf tea range but usually come in to about 26mg of caffeine. Coffee is a whooping 100mg while yerba mate comes in a middle ground between the two at 85mg of caffeine. Infinite books, blogs, articles and research studies are written about the incredible health benefits of yerba mate but I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet. The benefits from drinking mate are as follows:

  • Contains higher antioxidants than green tea
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Anti-aging effects
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Improves memory
  • Boosts energy
  • Enhances physical performance
  • May protect against illnesses and infections
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • May kill cancer cells and reduce inflammation
  • Prevent digestive issues (IBS, constipation, bloating, etc.)

Drinking yerba mate also comes with a loaded punch of vitamins and minerals:

On the yerba mate band wagon yet? If so, let’s jump right in to preparation! First things first, you are going to need the two essentials to making yerba mate which are the gourd (drinking cup) and bombilla (metal straw). These are necessary because we will be pouring water almost at boiling temperature into the cup and we definitely don’t want to be doing so in a glass or plastic cup. The metal straw is also a must because with its bottom end acting as a filter you can drink your mate without ingesting any of the leaves (you only want to be drinking the steeped water).  


  • Once your hot water is boiled, let it rest. You don’t want to burn your leaves (aka all the health benefits!), so let it cool off a bit. You want the temperature to be around 90°
  • Fill your gourd halfway with yerba mate. I like to add a little room temperature water to the leaves to absorb.
  • Slowly, pour your hot water in the gourd and DO NOT move the straw… ever! It must be kept in place as to not clog the straw.
  • Drink and enjoy the beautiful benefits of yerba mate!

Some people add mint, sugar, or orange peel to their serving to contrast the bitterness. Do what appeals to you. Also, you can refill your same cup as many times as you like. Although yerba mate contains caffeine, you can drink the beverage any time throughout the day. In South America, locals drink anywhere from one to four liters a day of yerba. The act of drinking yerba mate is also a tradition with beautiful roots. South Americans drink yerba mate not just for their caffeine fix but as a social practice; gathering and sharing the gourd is a sign of friendship and bonding. It is no doubt worth trying.

Yerba Mate can be bought at your local supermarket either located in the coffee/tea aisle or international foods aisle. Select health food stores also sell mate as well as Amazon.

Taylor Goggin is tropical gardener in Florida who gained her skills in cooperative agriculture while work-trading with a World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program on the Hawaiian Islands. She now grows papaya, banana, avocado, fig, tomatoes, and medicinal herbs to make into inventive plant-based recipes. Connect with Taylor on Instagram, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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