Guayakí Yerba Mate. The leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant are dried, typically over a fire, and steeped in hot water to make an herbal tea. Yerba mate may be served cold or hot. This beverage, commonly known simply as mate, is popular in parts of South America. Like black tea, yerba mate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant.
In the U.S., yerba mate is widely available in health food stores and online. Proponents of yerba mate say that it can relieve fatigue, promote weight loss, ease depression, and help treat headaches and various other conditions. There’s no definitive evidence that these claims are valid.
One possible explanation is that yerba mate contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to be carcinogenic. (Tobacco smoke and grilled meat also contain PAHs.) More investigation needs to be done into the safety and side effects of yerba mate.
If yerba mate is your cup of tea, enjoy it in moderation. But, as always, check with your doctor before trying any herbal product
Rich in Antioxidants and Nutrients
Yerba mate contains several beneficial plant nutrients, including (Source):
- Xanthines: These compounds act as stimulants. They include caffeine and theobromine, which are also found in tea, coffee, and chocolate.
- Caffeoyl derivatives: These compounds are the main health-promoting antioxidants in the tea.
- Saponins: These bitter compounds have certain anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Polyphenols: This is a large group of antioxidants, linked to a reduced risk of many diseases.
Interestingly, the antioxidant power of yerba mate tea seems to be slightly higher than that of green tea
What’s more, yerba mate may contain seven out of nine essential amino acids, in addition to nearly every vitamin and mineral your body needs (Source).
However, the tea contains very small amounts of these nutrients, so it’s unlikely to make a large contribution to your diet on its own.
SUMMARYYerba mate is an antioxidant powerhouse that contains many beneficial plant nutrients.
Can Boost Energy and Improve Mental Focus
At 85 mg of caffeine per cup, yerba mate contains less caffeine than coffee but more than a cup of tea (4).
Therefore, just like any other caffeinated food or beverage, it may increase your energy levels and make you feel less tired.
Several human studies observed improved alertness, short-term recall and reaction time in participants who consumed a single dose containing 37.5–450 mg of caffeine (7).
Additionally, those who regularly consume yerba mate often rave that it enhances alertness like coffee — but without the jittery side effects.
However, these testimonials have not yet been scientifically proven.
SUMMARYThanks to its caffeine content, yerba mate can help increase your energy levels and boost your mental focus.
May Enhance Physical Performance
Since yerba mate contains a moderate amount of caffeine, those drinking it can expect similar physical performance benefits.
In fact, in one study, those given one 1-gram capsule of ground yerba mate leaves right before exercise burned 24% more fat during moderate-intensity exercise (12Trusted Source).
A higher reliance on fat for fuel during exercise spares your carb reserves for critical high-intensity moments, such as cycling up a hill or sprinting towards the finish line. This could translate into better sports performance.
The optimal amount of yerba mate to drink before exercise is currently unknown.
SUMMARYYerba mate increases your body’s reliance on fat for fuel during exercise. It may also improve muscle contractions and reduce fatigue, all of which may contribute to better physical performance.
May Protect Against Infections
Yerba mate may help prevent infections from bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
One test-tube study found that a high dose of yerba mate extract deactivated E. coli, a bacteria that causes food poisoning symptoms like stomach cramps and diarrhea (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Compounds in yerba mate may also prevent the growth of Malassezia furfur, a fungus responsible for scaly skin, dandruff, and certain skin rashes (15Trusted Source).
Finally, research suggests that compounds in it may provide some protection against intestinal parasites (1Trusted Source).
SUMMARYYerba mate may have some anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal properties. However, more research is needed.
May Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
Animal studies show that yerba mate may reduce appetite and boost metabolism, which can help with weight loss (18Trusted Source).
It seems to decrease the total number of fat cells and reduce the amount of fat they hold (19Trusted Source).
Furthermore, in a 12-week study in overweight people, those given 3 grams of yerba mate powder per day lost an average of 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg). They also reduced their waist-to-hip ratio by 2%, which indicates lost belly fat (21Trusted Source).
In comparison, the participants given a placebo gained an average of 6.2 pounds (2.8 kg) and increased their waist-to-hip ratio by 1% over the same 12-week period (21Trusted Source).
SUMMARYYerba mate may reduce appetite, boost metabolism, and increase the amount of fat burned for fuel. This could help you lose weight.
According to Bloomberg, Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, Inc., is a US-based beverage company founded in 1996 by college buddies Alex Pryor from Buenos Aires and David Karr from California. They sell mainly organic yerba mate beverages in various forms, including bottled cold drinks, cans, energy shots, traditional-style gourds, tea bags, and loose leaf. The company sells its products through their own online shop, food retail stores and restaurants in the United States; grocery stores in Canada; and retailers internationally.
Using a market driven restoration business model, Guayakí connects customers’ purchases of mate products directly to farming communities in South America. Farmers sustainably harvest organic yerba mate in the rainforest, which generates an income for their communities. With this renewable, stable income, communities are able to restore their lands and improve their lives.
While I have seen this same model being performed by other brands, I must admit Guayakí seems to go that extra mile. From biodegradable packaging to solar power arrays and reforestation projects in South America, they sure try hard to stay on the path of sustainability. According to their own website, their mission is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of South American Atlantic rainforest and create over 1,000 living wage jobs by 2020.
After taking the full tour of their website and watching some videos online, I got a full picture of their work in South America, but I still knew very little about their operations in the United States. I really wanted to get a feel for the type of people who consume their products and just how did they manage to bring such a traditional beverage to such a “untraditional” market.
Modernization of Yerba Mate
Shortly after experiencing mate for the first time (and immediately falling in love with it), I began to make YouTube videos. Some were with my brother, others were with friends I met while living in Abu Dhabi, and a handful were just me, a gourd and my thoughts (sort of like now). One of the first Yerba Mate companies I ever spoke with was Guayaki, who were more than generous with sending over free mate, t-shirts, stickers, gourds, bombillas and more. I was taken aback by how awesome everyone I interacted with was, such as Steven, Dave, Patrick and others I either spoke to via email, phone or eventually met in person.
As time went on, I learned much more about mate: the history, tradition, health benefits, science and the immense beauty of it all. I was a gourd and bombilla type of guy through and through, and while I appreciated Guayaki’s other products, such as their sparkling cans, glass bottles, and energy shots, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this perceived modernization of an ancient tradition. A part of me felt conflicted that people were enjoying cans of sparkling mate without ever picking up a gourd. But today, I look back at my infancy in the world of mate and realize I wasn’t only being a bit of a snob, but also closed-minded, because how someone drinks mate is far less important than them drinking it in the first place. Guayaki has done a better job than any other States-based company of spreading the drink to millions (no official figures, but I can only imagine) of people through their wide distribution of can and glass beverages, which is good for a handful of reasons. The first being that people are ingesting mate, albeit not in the traditional way, which can only result in more good. Good for their bodies, the environment (more on this below) and the world. The second reason being that I’m sure some people who pick up a can or bottle and do a bit of research eventually try drinking mate with a gourd and bombilla, further deepening their appreciation of the good herb.
So now its time for my take on the whole thing. Is Guayakí the “real deal”? I believe the answer is “it depends on you”. I think they will offer you exactly what you buy. So if you are looking for the ultimate yerba mate experience, but buying their Yerba Mate Wild Berry flavor yerba, then I’m afraid you have chosen poorly. At the time of this article, I still have not tried Guayakí’s loose leaf traditional yerba, so there is very little I can say about it at this point.
I will be purchasing some of it very soon and making a full review. I do believe, however, that it should deliver a genuine yerba mate experience for reasons already explained by Karr. Also, there are several definitions of “genuine”. A Chimarrão experience in Brazil is not like a Tereré experience in Paraguay, which is also not like the yerba mate experience in Argentina or Uruguay. So if you are new to yerba mate, go ahead and try as many brands as you possibly can. With time, you will probably find yourself attached to one anyway. Wether your ONE is Guayakí or not, only time will tell. One thing is for sure though, you can always get a quality and safe product from them.