Since I was a baby, I have been drinking Yerba mate. It has been a constant in my life. I always have Yerba on hand and a few mates. When relatives from Argentina come to visit, they often bring me a new bombilla (metal diffuser straw) to try out and add to my collection.
The most beautiful part of drinking mate is when you share it. You see, Yerba mate is a drink that was mostly shared with another person. In other words, if you came to my house, we would sit and drink together. It was a way to communicate, share warmth and have a reason to stop and connect. Drinking on my own always felt like something was missing.
I was raised in the United States so I drank coffee. When I went to college, I had my own coffee maker, coffee beans, and a whole coffee cup collection. I would pull out my mate every now and then, but mostly, I drank coffee. It didn’t matter that coffee left me shaky because I felt I needed the morning boost. In the afternoon, I didn’t mind the crash because I would drink more coffee, eat some sweets and call it a day. Also, if I had left my mate and bombilla out when someone came over, I would get a ton of questions.
So, it was coffee for me….until I got pregnant. Then I was told that I would have to stop drinking coffee. So, I turned to my mother and grandmother who instantly told me to go back to the mate and go through my pregnancy, drinking it daily to keep me healthy and strong. Of course, I complied and really that’s when the big connection with mate happened because I was having it on my own. I had to learn how I liked it and figure out details like how hot I wanted my water and what sweetener to use.
The benefits for me were enormous. I drank Yerba mate all through my pregnancy and at 39 had a healthy baby. After the birth, I continued drinking mate and have not stopped since. The only difference is that now I want to spread the love and have others enjoy what most Argentinians (as well as Chileans, Uruguayans, Paraguayans, as well as many other countries in South America) enjoy.
You drink it for the comfort it gives you. You drink it for the ritual of it. You also drink it with guests to share a piece of yourself and show you care. That being said, this herb, Yerba mate, carries a huge nutritional punch.
Yerba Mate has caffeine, but not the same caffeine as in coffee. Yerba is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it will give you energy when you need it, or to help you calm down. That is a whole different ballgame then coffee. Caffeine in coffee left me so jittery and anxious. Yerba Mate never did that. I guess that is why it was ok to have Yerba during pregnancy, rather than coffee.
So, if you come to my house, you will see a collection of mates (gourd cups) and bombillas (metallic diffuser straws) rather than coffee mugs. I have a huge glass container of Yerba mate that I leave on the counter. I proudly show everyone that I drink mate, even though I still get the questions! Now, though, I am happy to share what I know and finally, let Americans in on a great South American Secret!