Common Name: Yerba Mate
Botanical Name: Ilex Paraguariensis
Yerba mate is a traditional South American brew that’s been said to offer the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage. It was called “the drink of the gods” by many indigenous South Americans and later “the green gold of the Indios” by European settlers.
It is said that Yerba Mate increases energy, enhances focus, mental clarity, alertness and concentration. Yerba Mate is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids.
Natives believed Yerba Mate was a gift given to them to sustain life, increase vitality and heal the sick. As a spiritual herb, it was used for worship and often used for religious and other important tribal ceremonies.
Yerba mate is prepared most traditionally in a gourd, or “mate”. While the original gourds were small bowls or cups made from hollow, dried-out squash, modern day gourds may be made out of metal, ceramic or wood. The yerba, or “herb”, is placed in the gourd and shaken, crushed or ground. Cold water is then poured into the gourd a little at a time so it has time to absorb into the herbs and prepare them for the infusion. Hot water (or sometimes cold, but never boiling) is then poured over the herbs to fill the gourd. The herbs infuse into the water to produce a tea-like beverage.
The infused yerba mate herbs are not strained out from the water as with tea or coffee. Instead, the beverage is sipped through a “bombilla”, a metal straw made of silver, copper or stainless steel with small holes at the bottom. The bombilla acts as both a straw and a sieve, so the liquid can be sipped while the herb bits are left in the gourd.
Traditionally, yerba mate is prepared in one gourd that is shared; this is part of the social and cultural experience of drinking yerba mate. In a mate ceremony, the “cebador”, or mate preparer, prepares a gourd of mate, sips it down to make sure the mate is smooth, and then prepares another mate in the same gourd to pass from guest to guest. Each guest sips down a gourd of mate and returns it to the cebador to prepare another for the next guest in the circle. This is a traditional ritual of friendship and hospitality.
Today you can find Yerba Mate in pre-packaged tea bags or as a loose leaf, which can be placed in a muslin pouch and steeped.
It is said that drinking Yerba Mate increases creativity, insight, clarity, heightened consciousness and so much more… this drink is absolute magick. It works on the entire mind/body/spirit as a single unit and each time you drink Yerba Mate, you will find your relationship with the plant deepens and becomes stronger.
If you have not tried Yerba Mate yet, it just may be time.