Yerba Mate - South America's super plant

Find out more about our #yerbamatemission campaign to raise awareness of yerba mate

Yerba mate, [pronounced [yer-bah ma-tey] is where it all began for Yuyo. From Southern Brazil to the tip of Patagonia, sharing yerba mate is an institution, crossing boundaries of class, gender and age as a gourd is filled, brewed and passed to the next.

The plant itself (ilex paraguariensis) is a member of the holly family that grows in the forested regions of southern Brazil and northern Argentina. The infusion made from its leaves is energising, with a deliciously grassy, slightly smoky flavour.

Ancient culture, modern ritual

The leaves and stalks of the yerba mate plant are dried, seasoned and served up in specially carved gourds and drunk through a perforated metal straw known as the bombilla. A gourd is brewed and shared between friends, families, colleagues and classmates.

Legend has it that Yací and Araí, the goddesses of the Moon and Cloud, first granted the plant to the Guaraní people in thanks for saving their lives from a jaguar attack when they visited earth. Yerba mate has been opening people’s minds, forging friendships and sparking ideas for centuries ever since.

Che Guevara, Messi, Suárez and Pope Francis are all well-known yerba mate drinkers. Today every Uruguayan drinks over nine kilograms of yerba mate in a year - five times the amount of tea your average Brit drinks!

Pleasure & purpose

Yerba mate contains three stimulating and feel-good compounds: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Its unique composition means that each cup gives a more sustained lift than a cup of coffee - without the crash - and more antioxidants than herbal and green tea. 

The first full analysis by the west in the 1960s by the Pasteur Institute concluded that:

“it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value. It has almost all the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”