It’s 6:30am and you stumble into the kitchen. You clumsily miss the light switch, jab your hip on that counter corner AGAIN and finally snap the kettle on after three attempts. Sound familiar?
Many of us can’t start the day without coffee, let alone become a proper, functioning human being before 10am. Sometimes we even feel extra sluggish when we’re on our period. Urgh. However, we know that coffee isn’t always the healthiest of drinks, and that caffeine-crash just ain’t right.
Well, we’ve got some good news for those of you who dread life pre-elevenses without the caffeine hit. Introducing mate – the answer to all of your coffee-coloured dreams (and available in your Pink Parcel this month. YAS).
What is mate?
The South American drink comes from the yerba mate plant, which grows in the forested regions of Southern Brazil and Northern Argentina. It is a leafy, herb-like plant with a slightly smoky, grass flavour – kind of like green tea. In fact, mate has more antioxidants than green tea and won’t give you the same crash as coffee, despite containing a good level of caffeine itself.
It’s super popular amongst most of South America, and it is said that the average Uruguayan drinks over nine kilograms of the stuff in a year (that’s five times the amount of tea us Brits drink, FYI).
How do you drink it?
Traditionally, the plant is dried, seasoned, placed in a carved gourd (a large fruit that looks similar to a squash) and then brewed. The water is never boiled, but instead heated up just before the point of boiling. It’s drunk through a special, perforated metal straw called a bombilla and it’s quite a social thing; a group of friends, or family, will all drink out of the same gourd while hanging out together.
There are drinking rituals surrounding mate, for example, when you’re in a group, one person will serve it to one person at a time. Another rule is to never touch the straw – you drink out of it, of course, but don’t stir or blow into the bombilla.
If you can’t get hold of a gourd, or a group of mates (pun intended), there are mate infusion teas available, which can be enjoyed on your own and in a cup. You’ll find a Yuyo Yerba Zing infusion tea bag in February’s Pink Parcel. Just add hot water and enjoy all the benefits of mate, with a little citrus twist.
What are the benefits?
There are quite a few! Firstly, as we mentioned before, mate provides an energy boost similar to that of coffee. However, unlike most stimulating beverages, you feel alert and more focused but without many of the other side effects.
Mate is also high in saponins, which boost our immune system function and have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well. Oh and to top it off, mate is high in calcium, iron, potassium and zinc, and rich in vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B Complex. Who even knew there were so many vitamin Bs?!
So the next time you reach for your morning coffee, why not try brewing up a mate instead?