Roots of Yerba Mate spreading in India

The yerba mate infusions present a great antioxidant power due to its high concentration of polyphenols, and it is ranked in a very privileged position among natural elements carrying the highest antioxidant power.

In the 17th Century and with the arrival of Jesuits to the area, the consumption was first forbidden and later promoted, as they realized it was beneficial for their health. Drunk mostly in rural areas, its consumption in cities increased in the late 19th Century and all throughout the 20th Century.
In the 17th Century and with the arrival of Jesuits to the area, the consumption was first forbidden and later promoted, as they realized it was beneficial for their health. Drunk mostly in rural areas, its consumption in cities increased in the late 19th Century and all throughout the 20th Century.

By Anish Narang

Yerba Mate is a beverage made with water and processed yerba mate leaves, a species of ilex plant with the botanical name ilex paraguariensis. It grows in the north of Argentina, Paraguay, and south of Brazil only.

Discovery of Yerba goes back to when Europeans travelled the American continent looking for gold and other treasures, what was called “El Dorado ”. From their journeys, they noticed how the locals drank yerba mate, especially the Guaraní tribe. They tried it and liked the ‘exotic’ taste as well as its stimulant benefits, which led to some taking dried and processed leaves (sapecadas) back to their settlements.

Guarani tribe are the ancient people of the land, who lived in what today is Paraguay, north of Argentina, South of Brazil and parts of Uruguay and Bolivia believed the herb to be a divine blessing and began the tradition of brewing its leaves into a tea-like beverage, the Yerba Mate beverage, consumed for its multiple health benefits for the body and the mind, elevated to the status of a community practice, bringing the individuals and the society together.The name of the herbal drink derives from the Quechua language “mati,” which means gourd (cup) and refers to the age-old manner of drinking Yerba Mate.It was consumed first chewing the green leaves of  ilex paraguariensis and then they would use the mate gourd and a small straw made out of cane.

Alternatively, the name Mate is adopted from the fruit of the summer squash called ‘Calabash’ (scientific name: Lagenaria vulgaris) that was used to prepare and pour the yerba mate infusion. The word Yerba comes from the word “herb”.

In the 17th Century and with the arrival of Jesuits to the area, the consumption was first forbidden and later promoted, as they realized it was beneficial for their health. Drunk mostly in rural areas, its consumption in cities increased in the late 19th Century and all throughout the 20th Century.

Consuming Yerba Mate:

The way of drinking mate has varied slightly by changing the material of its basic elements, and there is a wide variety of options for all tastes. The main change was the introduction of the ‘termo’, an insulated flask (that took the name of Thermus). The ‘termo’, first introduced in Uruguay in the 60s allowed people to have a mate on the go, keeping the water hot all day and being able to enjoy it in public spaces.

Today, mate is widely consumed in Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay and in some areas of Brazil. It is also consumed in the South of Chile and in the rural areas of the central region of South America. Uruguayans drink the most – 6 to 8 kg of yerba per person per year. Argentinians drink on average 5 kg of yerba per person per year and they are also the first exporter of yerba mate in the world.

Each region has its own preference in terms of the type of yerba, temperature of water and different ways of preparing and drinking mate. Generally, people in the North of Argentina and Brazil usually use a big mate gourd (cup), whereas in Uruguay, South of Argentina and Chile it is more common to drink from a small mate gourd (cup). Chimarrão (infusion of Yerba Mate) is the preference in Uruguay, and south of Brazil, whilst Paraguayans and North Argentinians prefer tereré (Cold Yerba Mate).

Different Infusions of Yerba Mate beverage:

Yerba mate is also the national drink of Argentina consumed from a traditional gourd (cup) and they commonly add herbs or spices to the drink. For example, it’s normal to add ginger, cinnamon, orange peels or herbs to the hot water.The yerba used for a chimarrãois in a powder form. While a few stems are included, the yerba is typically very fine. You’ll notice that this yerba is much greener than other Yerba.Tereré is an infusion of yerba mate and is prepared with cold water & ice rather than with hot water and in a slightly larger vessel.

The preparation of Argentine traditional mate is a simple process, consisting of filling a container (gourd) with yerba, pouring hot, but not boiling, water over the leaves, and drinking with a straw, the bombilla, which acts as a filter to draw only the liquid and not the yerba leaves.

Yerba Mate’s growing Popularity:

Yerba Mate is very popular amongst Football stars such as Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Griezmann and others as it has powerful antioxidants and energising effects.

Outside South America, Syria is the country that imports the most yerba and from Argentina. This is attributed to the migration wave of Syrians – and Lebanese – to Argentina that returned home and continued the tradition. Yerba is also getting popular in the United States, Germany, Austria, parts of Europe, Middle East,and Japan & Korea as well.

Yerba mate is consumed by thousands of people in different countries around the world because of its nutritional properties and variety in the ways of consumption. Yerba Mate can be consumed as a wellness drink; energy refreshment, and a plant-based beverage.

Yerba Mate spreading in India:

Nowadays, the consumers in India are seeking for new types of tea & beverages to satisfy their taste buds and health needs. Drinking Tea continues to be extremely relevant, across consumer groups. It is something Indians have grown up with and yet, to keep up with constantly changing consumers need to experiment, seek out newness, they are reaching out to other kinds of Teas. In India, Argentine Yerba Mate is widely available in tea bags, traditional way of drinking it in Gourd & Bombilla and Mate coolers for the hot summers.

Health Benefits of Yerba Mate:

Yerba Mate– The tea of South America is a blend of flavours of the native tea leaves. High in health benefits and antioxidants, it provides energy all day long and gives you the right wake up call. People who are fond of Yerba Mate are the ones who are conscious about everything they eat and want to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. They also prefer high quality flavours and are fierce in their approach. Need to lose those extra kilos; Yerba Mate Tea is the right fit.

Higher Antioxidants:

The yerba mate infusions present a great antioxidant power due to its high concentration of polyphenols, and it is ranked in a very privileged position among natural elements carrying the highest antioxidant power.

Helps to Lower Bad Cholesterol levels:

The results of a scientific study by a team of researchers confirm that consumption of yerba mate helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides and improve plasma lipid profile.

Anti- Obesity and Anti-Diabetic properties:  Yerba Mate has therapeutic properties to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes through weight management. Consumption of Mate reduces the final body weight, glucose blood levels, and insulin resistance.

Source of Vitamins:

Yerba mate contains B-group vitamins. The body needs 13 vitamins, and 8 of them are B-group vitamins, which are essential for body functions such as energy and red blood cell production.

Source of Minerals:

Yerba mate contains minerals (aluminium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, potassium and zinc among others), an essential mineral that is necessary for the correct function of the heart and helps the body to incorporate proteins.

The health properties of yerba mate have been evaluated on the content of nutrients, bioactive compounds and the biological properties, including its potent antioxidant activity and the antidiabetic, anti-obesity, hypocholesterolemic, antihypertensive, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic effects. In addition, the positive effect on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and bone tissue are also pointed out.

How to prepare your Yerba Mate drink?

Add enough loose herb into the gourd to fill it just past halfway. Cover the gourd with your hand and turn it upside down. You might lose a sprinkling of leaves doing this, so be careful where you flip. It’ll help lower your chances of getting the powdery stuff stuck in your straw. Give it a few upside-down bounces so the smaller leaves move into position. This will move any stems to help with filtration. Carefully return the gourd to an upright position so the herbs are stacked tall against one side of the cup and you have a clear space to insert the bombilla on the other.

As with tea, Yerba Mate leaves are sensitive and can be damaged. To prepare the leaves, first pour some cool water into the gourd. A good way to do this is to aim low at the straw – don’t pour directly onto the leaning pile! The cool water will dampen the leaves, which helps protect them from the shock of hot water later. This also “wakes up” the Yerba Mate. Pour slowly and let the herb absorb the water. Add just enough to moisten most of the leaves but keep the top of the pile dry.

Once your leaves are prepped, packed, go ahead and add the hot water. Remember the leaves are sensitive, so avoid boiling water! The right water temperature for Yerba Mate lands somewhere between70 to 85 °C (158 to 185 °F).  If your water is too hot, bam! Terrible mate. If you don’t like the natural flavour, you can add some zip to it with mint, sage, lemon, liquorice root, or just sweeten with honey or sugar. Once it’s gone, you can also continue to refill your gourd with hot water from the thermos to brew the leaves several more times. Once bubbles stop forming on top of the water, you’ll know your leaves have given their all.

(Author is an entrepreneur with experience in the field of International Business Advisory, with a focus on India, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, & Chile (Latin America), and other global markets. He has been working with Argentine Yerba Mate companies promoting the product and brands such as Pipore Beverages into the Indian market. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited). 

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