I’m a diehard coffee drinker. Over the years I’ve experimented with quitting, even swapping in the latest fads to see if there’s truly anything better out there (remember that Matcha tea craze, anyone?). So, when articles about the health benefits of Yerba Mate, an herbal tea made from dried leaves and twigs started popping up all over my social media, I was skeptical.
But the more I read about this hot new beverage, the more intrigued I became. One writer described it as having “the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the joy of chocolate.” That finally swayed me enough to give it a try for a week and see what happened – because who could turn down an excuse to enjoy “chocolate” in the morning?
Traditionally, Yerba Mate is enjoyed out of a gourd. After you steep it, it’s sipped through a metal straw with a filter that strains out all the particles. That seemed like a lot to invest in, so I went the more modern route and purchased Yerba Mate tea bags.
On day 1 I let the tea steep for around ten minutes. I took a deep whiff of it – it smelled bitter, with some minty eucalyptus notes. I took a sip – and let’s just say this is an acquired taste, and nothing like chocolate! It tastes like something that’s good for you. Which it is, it’s packed with antioxidants like polyphenols, which have been linked to reducing the risk of diseases, as well as caffeoyl derivatives, which are the main antioxidants Yerba Mate contains. But it was going to take some getting used to, for sure.
I woke up on day 2 ready to give this tea another try. I stepped it, and this time decided to add a splash of coconut milk to it to help kill the bitterness and make it more palpable. This worked well. Throughout the day, I noticed that I wasn’t as jittery as I usually am when I drink coffee in the morning. I also didn’t experience the 3 pm slump that usually pummels me out of nowhere, which was a huge plus.
I’d been slacking on exercise during this week, so after having my Yerba Mate I decided to dedicate 30 minutes to do a dance cardio class. I could feel the energy boosting benefits of Yerba Mate as I moved through this workout, and by the end of it I felt extremely accomplished and ready to take on the day. I also noticed my focus improved tremendously on day 3 – I wasn’t spacing out or procrastinating the way I typically do toward the end of the work day.
On day 4 I prepared my morning cup of Yerba Mate, completed a quick yoga class and dove right in to the work I had to do that day. The energy I had this day was incredible – after I’d finished my 8-hour work day I continued to complete tasks that I typically didn’t have the energy for and had been putting off – a load of laundry, a trip to the dry cleaners and a much-needed stop at the grocery store. I cooked myself a fish recipe I’d been wanting to try but was a bit time intensive and called it a night.
I continued to feel the benefits of Yerba Mate during these two days – but something I also noticed was that my clothes were feeling loser on me. Weight loss has also been listed as a potential benefit of Yerba Mate, so I was happy to see that it was working in my favor too!
My final day with Yerba Mate, I did start to really miss my morning coffee. While I had enjoyed all the added energy and improved focus that drinking Yerba Mate daily had afforded me, the addition of coconut milk to this concoction wasn’t cutting it in terms of flavor.
Will I continue drinking Yerba Mate? I think so, but probably not every day. If you’re interested in swapping out your traditional morning beverage for something with added benefits, I’d say give Yerba Mate a try!