Mate (pronounced mah-tay, not like the British slang for friend) is the national infusion of Argentina. It’s a major part of Argentinean and Paraguayan culture, and also popular in Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay. It’s traditionally consumed out of a gourd, which the leaves are steeped directly in. A straw called a bombilla sifts out the leaves, and careful arrangement of them reduces the amount of fine silt that passes through the straw. The mate is traditionally passed around a group of people, who all drink from the same gourd.
Mate has about as much caffeine as coffee, but is much less acidic. Therefore, if you’re someone with the sort of stressful lifestyle that tends to come with that constant coffee-stomach (you know who you are), and refuse to consider the option of mellowing out some (please relax and try the rooibos), mate is a good idea. I also recommend blending it with ginger, which is good for a sour stomach, and lemongrass, which is full of vitamin C.
Unlike your morning cup of coffee, mate also has even more antioxidants than green tea. If you’re unfamiliar with antioxidants, they’re what make blueberries, wine, and chocolate all “healthy”. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which is to say, they reduce your risk of cancer.
While mate is full of caffeine, it is not a true tea, which means that it doesn’t have L-theanine, an amino acid which promotes focus.