Yerba Mate: Miracle Tea or Just Another Caffeine Kick?

Yerba mate (YERB-ah mah-TAY). Ever heard of it? It is an herb with a storied history as an alternative to traditional teas for the inhabitants of its native South America. I’ve received numerous emails recently asking about its properties and its role in the Primal Blueprint eating plan. Let’s dive straight in.

Yerba mate tea is prepared by steeping the dried leaves and twigs of the mate plant in hot water (not boiling water, which can make the tea bitter). It has an herbal, almost grassy, taste, with some varieties somewhat reminiscent of certain types of green tea. Traditionally, yerba mate is drunk communally from a hollow gourd with a metal straw, but a coffee mug works just as well (you know, for when your gourd is in the dishwasher). Like many teas and coffees, yerba mate is imbued with an impressive amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and vitamin C. Minerals include manganese, potassium, and zinc, and the antioxidants include quercetin, theobromine, and theophylline.

But the big draw for most yerba mate enthusiasts is the promise of a “clean” caffeine-like buzz, free of jitters and unpleasantness, which yerba mate is said to provide. Drinkers report being in control of their wakefulness; they can stay up for hours, alert and on their game, but sleep is always right around the corner – if they want it. Basically, yerba mate is supposed to give you energy without the negative side effects. A common claim is that yerba mate is actually completely free of caffeine and that its stimulating effects come from a mysterious compound called mateine. Mateine, they say, is a stereoisomer of caffeine, thus giving it the stimulating qualities with none of the downfalls.

Mateine is actually caffeine. It’s just a synonym, possibly derived from the word “mate” itself. In fact, the caffeine content of dry mate leaves is similar to that of dried coffee beans and tea leaves (though brewed yerba mate tends to have lower levels). How do we then explain away all the anecdotal evidence of jitter-free wakefulness?

Well, there’s more to yerba mate than just caffeine/mateine. Take theobromine, for example. Theobromine, best known for being the primary alkaloid in cacao and highly toxic to dogs, exerts a smoother, longer-lasting stimulatory effect. Whereas caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, theobromine is an effective vasodilator, relaxing the smooth muscle in blood vessels and allowing better blood flow. It’s present in varying amounts in each variety of yerba mate, some with caffeine/theobromine ratios of 10:1 and others with ratios of 2:1, and can actually lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Pure caffeine has the tendency to increase blood pressure. It’s plausible, then, that various ratios of theobromine and caffeine have different effects paired together than either do alone.

Still, as Jamie over at That Paleo Guy points out, the effect of caffeine on glucose tolerance and blood sugar control is somewhat troublesome. It can impair insulin sensitivity, even in healthy individuals. But is this actually a problem for healthy Primal eaters? Probably not, as long as you’re reasonable about your caffeine intake. Don’t live on a pot a day and avoid eating sugary baked goods with your coffee, and you’ll be fine. And remember – yerba mate is not coffee, and it’s not just caffeine. In fact, yerba mate extract has been shown to restore insulin sensitivity in obese rats. Even without that study, the yerba mate we drink has less caffeine than coffee, and about the same amount as most teas, which are linked with improved insulin sensitivity despite the caffeine content. The caffeine in yerba mate most likely isn’t an issue.

There’s also been some mildly troubling research into a possible link between yerba mate and certain cancers. Although this is purely epidemiological, researchers studying hot yerba mate drinkers in South America have noticed a positive correlation between hot mate intake and oral cancer in several studies. Similar correlations exist with other hot drinks too, though, so it could be a temperature issue. Yerba mate intake has also been associated – however weakly – with increased incidence of bladder, head and neck, and esophageal cancers. Hot temperatures probably can’t explain all of this (if there is any causation going on), but this study might shed some light: researchers found high levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in multiple varieties of yerba mate, perhaps from processing of the raw mate leaves (higher than in cigarette smoke).

I don’t mean to scare you away from yerba mate. I’ve had it, and it’s a very pleasant, mildly stimulating beverage. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are nothing to scoff at, and it certainly feels less taxing on the body than the daily pots of coffee most people rely on. Tim Ferriss credits it for helping him write, and there are numerous other anecdotes from those that prefer it to coffee. And so, sneaky caffeine content and troubling cancer studies aside, I think yerba mate can be integrated into a healthy Primal eating strategy. Just don’t drink it scalding hot or by the liter (which appears to be an “excessive” dose). The occasional, even daily cup is probably fine. Grok on!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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173 thoughts on “Yerba Mate: Miracle Tea or Just Another Caffeine Kick?”

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  1. As an argentinian, I drink mate EVERY DAY, and i really mean every day. I have been primal for almost 6 months, lost 25kgs, and could not live without it. I should add to all the things you said, that it is also a social drink, you drink it with friends and usually outside as well, so is very good for picnics. I Love mate, and i love the fact is so very south american

    1. Hi F,

      I’m also from Argentina, and I also drink mate once a day, I love it, I take it on roadtrips and you can be sure that if I’m somewhere there is some mate in the vicinity…
      I’ve been primal for about 4 months and I love it!!

      1. Is mate best grown in Argentina? There has to be a reason why all of you Argentines drink Mate.

        I will have to make a visit there soon. Can I enjoy a cup of Mate with both of you if I do?

        1. Hey Primal Toad,

          Any time! If you find yourself in El Paso, Tx, let me know and I’ll hook you up with some authentic mate 🙂

        2. Hi Corolina,
          I am also in El Paso, TX. Where can I find authentic mate?
          Thank you,

        3. Is not a cup , you pore wather in a mate and with a straw drink . Then fill the mate and drink again , about one litre , you can share your mate but only with close friends or family ????

        4. Not a cup, but in previously “cured” gourd. There are quite a few Argentinians spread around, not as many as Mexicans, of course, (you can always ask a Mexican if he knows any Argentinian) you’ll always find someone that will be glad to share it with you. (Many people just drink a few mates before leaving for work.) I am in California and we are spread a bit thin around here, but you’ll find us. Or you can look online for an Argentine bakery or restaurant, they’ll have our products (and more affordable than Amazon or other fancy places that cater to those who don’t know much about it.)

      2. Hey guys,

        I’m also argentinean. I’ve been following Paleo/Primal for more than 4 months now and It’s been one of the wisest decisions I’ve made so far.
        It’s good to know there’s people who share this lifestyle.
        Yerba Mate is one of my favorites, and it is specially good for socializing and drinking during long work hours.

        1. I agree! I live in Lis Angeles and to my oworkers drinking mate! Our break tie is now centered around mate!

        2. I have begun to drink the mate however, Canarias Has so much powder I have to separate it from the leaves!!!

          What do I do with the powder ??? any ideas

          1. Strain it. Bad brand, though, you shouldn’t have to.

        1. is yerba mate the same as yerba en cruz. i live in albuquerque New mexico can you tell me where i could buy it here thank you

        2. When you start the mate get the leaves all moist first. Don’t fill the mate all at once. Once everything is moist, place the bombilla down in the bottom. Then slowly fill with water. When the matero is full, suck out the first mouthful of liquid and spit it into the sink or onto the ground. That should get rid of the powder and you can continue to enjoy drinking without worrying about it. That’s how we do it in Paraguay!

          1. I heard that in Paraguay you guys drink a cold mate, is it true?

    2. Hey Ian,

      You would be pleasantly surprised. I bet there are at least a dozen (maybe a few dozen) primal enthusiasts living in your area.

      It is my focus to bring us all together. There are millions of us out there and millions more on the fence that are about to jump over. An argentine meetup is coming soon!

    3. I have cousins in Argentina. Very distant cousins. My French immigrant ancestor on my dad’s side had two brothers, and one of them emigrated to Brazil, married, and moved to Argentina. I was pleasantly surprised to get an email one day from one of his descendants. 🙂

      1. Hi Dana
        On one of your earlier emails you mentioned both a disturbed cortisol level and an inability to sleep in a dark room
        Did you get to the bottom of that?
        I understand that I am dealing with complex trauma symptoms – PTSD stuff. I find it impossible to settle at night and have to have a light on, but I am constantly sluggish. I am here to find about mate as it also has heart protective functions too and I was wondering if it might help with both.
        I haven’t heard any one else with the whole cortisol and sleep thing going on though – can you tell me more?

        1. If you can’t sleep you shouldn’t drink mate after 2 or 3 pm, specially if you aren’t used to it, don’t forget it has caffeine!

    4. I drink Mate daily as well. I spent 6 months in Uruguay, but before that my High School Spanish teacher (from Argentina) introduced me to Mate.

      Wonderful stuff! I have a nice Mate and Bombilla from Montevideo.

      I believe that the cancer concerns come largely if not entirely from repeated consumption of a hot liquid. The water is supposed to be taken off from heat just shy of boiling, but I know some of the people I worked with/drank mate with let it go longer. It was sometimes very hot.

      Brings back a lot of great memories… But Mate has become an everyday fixture in my life. Although if I don’t have Mate or any caffeinated beverage for a day I don’t notice any withdrawal symptoms like I know many daily coffee drinkers report. I’m not bashing coffee; I really enjoy a good Sumatran Mandehling.

      One last anecdote and then I will quit rambling. My dad is able to drink Mate every day despite being caffeine intolerant. Chocolate or coffee gives him hear palpitations, blurred vision, and dizziness. He is 100% fine with Mate though.

      1. I am Argentinean tooand I live in New York. I don’t care for “mate e bombilla” mas every morning I drink “” mate cocido.””
        The energy I get from this beverage is unique…
        I, too, introduced some of my former students (Spanish) to this tea.

        1. If you drink it “mate con bombilla” which is the metal straw, you’ll infuse a very strong mate and, unless you are used to it from very young, it might be too strong for you. I remember an American air force captain that used to visit us with a bunch of his Argentinian men (when I was a kid) they called him “captain green belly”, he got used to drink it with the men when they went up in the mountains. At that time I was drinking it infused with 1 tablespoon of herb where my mom poured a cup of near-boiled water and let it steep 5 min. Here in the US they sell mate in the health stores, don’t be deceived, is just color water, no flavor and very expensive. Occasionally I use the teabag, but not the one from the health stores, I go to the places where you get imported Latin America groceries. My favorite brand is Cruz de Malta and their bags are filled double size than the ones from the health stores. I usually let the bag steep for around 5 or 6 minutes to get better flavor from it. Then I have to heat it up in the microwave because in 5 minutes it cools off….

      2. Withdrawal from Yerba Mate starts from about 31 to 40 hours. Symptoms for me are severe. Migraine, vomiting, hot and cold flashes. 24 hours is not long enough . To know for sure wait 48 hours. It is difficult but you will know for sure and then can decide what to do if you do have symptoms

        1. “Withdrawal” from Yerba mate with vomits and cramps? We are a nation of > 40 million people whom in the vast majority drink this beverage daily from a tender age… Do you really think it could be as dangerous as you (consciously or not) depict it to be, and we wouldn’t have known by now? No one else that I’ve known in my long life who’s drank mate ever had withdrawal symptoms… And that’s a lot of people over a lot of time!!!
          You make something good, maybe excellent, look bad!!
          It’s the same as thought someone who’s had rice from Japan all of a sudden started talking about “withdrawal from rice”…
          If you are really vomiting and having all these symptoms I urge you to talk to a doctor as you might have something else going on!

          1. Completly agree with you. As argentinian , I ve drinking mate since 6 years old, when my grandma used to do it with milk and sugar. Thanks for your point, because mate it us anything like a drug!!! My only concern is if mate could raise the insulin during fasting…

          2. Carol, that was a funny comment, you have no idea of what you’re talking about! My mom took it daily very strong, mornings an afternoons (with the gourd) and she did until the day before she passed on at 89.) You might want to do some research from the culture itself, not from those who think they know.

        2. I have been drinking mate for about 6 years now & I love it. I am Canadian living in Toronto & I have been. , unable to get any for 3 weeks now & no withdrawal symptoms . I just MISS my morning cup of mate , I prefer Cruz de Malta brand?

          1. My favorite! How do you take it, as a tea or in a gourd?

  2. Thanks for the research, Mark!

    I have always wondered about the anecdotal evidence of yerba mate. I am super sensitive to caffeine and always noticed that yerba mate affects me similarly to coffee and tea.

    Now that you’ve cleared that up, I can stop trying it, thinking I’m imagining the caffeinated feeling, over and over again.

    1. Interesting… tea does not affect me. However, coffee kills me. I get extremely jittery over any type of coffee. I used to love mochas but always had to think twice about consuming one.

      So you are saying tea effects you too? Just as much as coffee? After reading this post and knowing that Tim likes it too I may buy some on Amazon.

      1. Look for Cruz de Malta, Taragui, or Rosamonte. Check a latin market in your town, if you have one, first; it might be cheaper than on Amazon.

        1. Right Jason, I get the 50 teabags for $6 at a Latin market and the kilo for less than $10. Same providers all over the US!

      2. Coffee absolutely freaks me out. I have to go running or something if I drink coffee, and I can’t think for anything. My brain and body are totally wired. I love the taste of coffee, though, so sometimes I drink a black cup of decaf but even that gets me going.

        Tea speeds me up a bit but it’s tolerable if I just have one cup early in the morning. The time of day affects me differently too. But I am so sensitive to the changes in my body, it’s almost ridiculous. I wish I could just stop paying attention sometimes!

        1. Haha thats too awesome. If I ever meet you I want you to drink a cup of Joe 😉

          I enjoy green tea but not black tea so much. I LOVE herbal tea – especially Mint!

        2. Coffee helped me kick my Mountain Dew habit, full-sugar *or* diet. I’m not sure whether I should be pleased or frightened by that admission. Although I get more nutrition from the coffee, and far fewer questionable chemicals.

          But I tend to need it to get going when I wake up. Bad juju, B’wana. Probably got some cortisol imbalance going on there, and it doesn’t help that I can’t sleep in a dark room right now.

          I want to get off the stims entirely, not exchange one for another, so I probably won’t get into mate, but this is still an interesting article.

        3. Hey Peggy,

          Have you ever tried drinking matcha? It has slow release caffeine and only a fraction that coffee has.

          Typically Tibetan monks would drink this before meditation because it relaxes the body but still gives them wakefulness. Also since matcha is the whole tea leaf, it has the anti-oxidant content of 12 cups of regular green tea.

          It’s also delicious when mixing with some organic honey and almond milk. 🙂

      3. The two of you should try not to drink mate on an empty stomach if you have a sensitive stomach, eat something first and take the mate light, little by little you’ll realize that it won’t affect you adversely at all. And it is so yammy!

    2. I am also super sensitive to caffine; and took to drinking yerba mate as a healthful coffee substitute. Preparing it in the traditional way though (3/4 filling a gourd) left me feeling like I was going to die. Heart palpitations, head spinning, nausea, and sweats have put me off mate. Believe me, your symptoms were not imagined.

      Afterwards I learned of the correlations to increased cancer risk Mark spoke of…. I see no need to give it another go! I think I’ll just stick to my green and herbal teas.

      1. Thanks for submitting your comment, Dan W! I found this blog post by specifically searching for other people who have had bad reactions to Yerba Mate and it is amazingly difficult to find any reference to bad reactions. Given my experiences with mate, I cannot understand at all how it got its reputation as being so gentle. I tried it because coffee messes me up too, but I find despite repeated attempts that mate is even worse for me. Your account that preparing it the traditional way leaves you “wanting to die” hits the nail on the head, I am not exaggerating. When I drink mate in the morning, I am having palpitations by 3:00pm, feeling like I am about to have a heart attack. I get severe shakes, and on a few occasions have had full-on panic attacks.

        I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone. Other people do have severe reactions to mate.

        I guess different people have different body chemistry or something. That’s the only way I can account for yerba mate’s reputation as being gentler.

        1. Hi,
          You might have had bad luck with the brand. At least here in Argentina there are several brands, some are more soft than others. I never had an issue with coffee, yet Rosamonte brand of yerba mate is so strong for me I always get stomachache.
          Instead of drinking the usual way and test brands until you find one that is good for you (like for me cachamay and cbc which are mixed with other herbs or cruz de malta and taragui for they are soft), you might want to try it the kids way. Which is basically, mate cocido. It is a teabag and always softer than the adult’s version. Usually drunk with milk. If not paleo, you can go full argentine/uruguayan and drink mate cocido with milk and some toats with dulce de leche.

      2. I started drinking Mate regularly and after about a week I had this episode it felt like a heart attack at first I got a feeling like a poke in my side, then it was like I was really spacing out and parts of my body were falling asleep, this led to like a severe panic attack that lasted an hour. I had two more on different days it felt like I was spacing out more and more on the 3rd one I was breathing fine but it felt like my heart was going really fast I felt my heart racing in my finger it was the weirdest thing, maybe there’s some kinda psychadelic effect to this stuff? I have never had these issues with coffee or energy drinks and it just started after I brewed the loose leaf stuff over a period of over a week.

        1. It’s supposed to have a natural MAOI in it…wonder if you ate something that interacted with that MAOI component, perhaps even a medication you may take.

    3. I stopped caffeine over a week ago, went through the withdrawals then started on Yerba as it was recommended to me to increase my energy levels as I felt tired due to cutting out caffeine. Since drinking one Yerba per day for the past few days I’ve had an extremely tight neck and shoulders. Researching the stimulants in Yerba I’ve read that it does have as much caffeine as coffee. Sad to have to stop it as I felt great on it otherwise.

  3. I think it’d be cool for you to take a look at the coca tea they drink down in the Andes. It’s very much a cultural thing, and they’ve been drinking it for hundreds if not thousands of years. Of course you can’t get it here in the US, so maybe it’s a moot point.

      1. You’re right! I had no idea coca leaves were legal in the U.S. Apparently you need lots and lots and lots of the leaves to make cocaine.

        Which, incidentally, cocaine is not completely illegal. It’s just really strictly scheduled. But they still use it in medical and dental applications (it’s an anesthetic, ironically enough), so they haven’t outlawed it completely like they’ve done with, say, cannabis.

        1. Bastards! Keeping cannabis at schedule 1 while Cocaine and Heroin hang out in Schedule 2 is criminal!

  4. Love this post! I am always thrilled when I read posts about it because yerba mate is dear to my heart, and I’m tired of people calling me weird for drinking it. 😉

    Ever since spending a year and a half in Paraguay, I’ve consumed yerba mate almost on a daily basis. It’s a communal thing down there: a very social activity. So much so that when I came back to the US, drinking it by myself was almost depressing.

    They’ve been drinking it for hundreds (at least) of years, and the Paraguayans will tell you that it’s what keeps them alive so long. Especially in the “country” parts of Paraguay, I’ve never seen so many old people in such great shape. Sure, it’s probably the fact that they’re more active and eat way better, but they’ll say it’s the yerba!

    It’s really good cold as well. In the summer my wife and I like to sit outside and drink it, sip by sip (you only get a mouthful before you pass it to the next person), and talk about whatever’s on our minds.

    If I may, I’d like to share this link to a post I wrote on my own blog.

    If you don’t drink mate, give it a shot. You’ll love it!


    1. Hi Jason,

      Where in Paraguay did you live?? I just replied to another post, I am originally from Argentina but grew up in Paraguay, my mom and siblings still live there and the cold mate you’re talking about “tereré”, is a staple of the Paraguayan diet,just talking about it brings back memories of growing up in Paraguay and happy times over there.

      Mate and tereré are really good for you, and you can add things to them to flavor them, I don’t add anything to my mate, I drink it bitter, but the tereré, you can add herbs and spices to the water that you’ll pour into the guampa.

      Take care,

      1. C – mucho gusto! I lived in Lambaré, about 20 mins south of Asuncion. My wife is from there; we were neighbors in PY before she became my wife. 😉

        We’re specifically growing various yuyos for the tereré, especially since it’s about to get hot in Richmond. I’ve got mint growing and already have a sizable lemon balm bush. Nothing – absolutely nothing – beats a few tragos from an ice-cold tereré on a hot day!

        (I know it’s called tereré, but you and I might be the only ones here that know that! That’s why I didn’t refer to it by name before. 🙂 )

        Gah…I could talk about this for hours!


        1. Hey Jason,
          nice to meet you too! I actually have friends who live in Lambaré, my mom is in the Fdo. de la Mora Sur area.

          And I know wxactly what you mean, I remember sitting in downtown Asución in some park, drinking tereré al paso…

          Enjoy your tereré!


        2. Actual Paraguayan here 🙂
          Happy to see Mark covering yerba mate. The amount of tereré (cold yerba mate infusion, for the non-guaranies) people consume here is crazy so I’m not convinced by the ‘overdose’ study. Though consuming the cold beverage might be different, since hot water makes the yerba mate taste/steep stronger.
          Also, I’m sure most people here adapt easily to the stimulant effect of caffeine. I mean, you certainly don’t see paraguayans buzzing around all day. They’re pretty much chilling. And most people here are not even aware of such benefits and they will still prefer coffee over mate when looking for some extra energy, not knowing the had been consuming caffeine (mate) all day long.

        1. 🙂 Ipora hande? Terere is a daily thing for me, its like social ice-tea!

    2. Just seeing the name of your blog post makes me laugh… As a girl from Virginia I studied in Chile and traveled to Argentina. While I was in Mendoza, some new acquaintances offered me some mate during our picnic lunch. Of course, with the metal straw and gourd I couldn’t imagine that it was JUST a drink! Also, being that I was new to speaking Spanish, I wasn’t sure if they were messing with me! Nonetheless, I tried it and liked it. It wasn’t until I got home that I learned that there wasn’t anything to fear from their “magic elixir.” 🙂

      1. Another Virginian here. 😉

        The first time I had it I was in Brazil on a mission trip. Had no idea what the stuff was, and the words they used to describe it was “herb, weed, grass, makes you excited.” I definitely was concerned! But they said the Christian woman who ran the orphanage drinks it, so I decided it can’t be drugs!


    3. Hey Jason! Im just wondering what brought you to Paraguay! I knew some Jasons in the peace corps and in the embassy, maybe I knew you? Haha anyways, im replying to a 5 year old comment here 😛

  5. I am a longtime mate drinker….I started years ago when coffee just wreaked havoc on my stomach and made my blood sugar start crashing. I still need to limit mate, caffeine is caffeine, but the lower levels work well for me.

    By the way, I wonder if buying the unsmoked versions of mate would lower the carcinogenic concerns.

    1. I was wondering the same thing about the green mate I drink. I certainly enjoy the flavor more than the smoked. My favorite is one with lemon and ginger.

  6. I love yerba mate and drink one cup daily, followed by a cup of green tea. I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I don’t seem to have any dependency issues with it, like I’ve noticed with so many coffee drinkers. If I don’t drink it for a while, it’s no big deal.

    I buy mine at Trader Joe’s.

    1. Annie, have you ever tried latin markets? I don’t know how much it costs at Trader Joes, but the brand I’ve seen at other grocery stores (Guayaki or something like that) is terribly overpriced. Maybe I’m just used to the South American prices. 🙂

      I’ve found it for under $2/lb in a latin market close by, and they’re South American brands like Cruz de Malta and Taragui. I highly recommend checking it out.


      1. When i was in London, i used to buy it at Whole Foods, at a reasonable price. Of course, not in bags, which are not useful if you want to have a real mate

  7. I love mate too, and I drink it the traditional way with the gourd/cup and straw/bombilla. This method is a lot more intense than just a brewed cup as you’re referring to. It’s a lot more caffeine buzz (though I agree, not with jitters). so when comparing caffeine levels, one should remember the way they’re drinking it. Unfortunately the caffeine, for me anyway, feels a lot stronger than from a cup of coffee, when I drink it that way.
    But the brewed method as one would drink another tea, is pretty boring, for those of accustomed to the traditional method.

  8. I worked at a coffee shop that served Yerba Mate. I enjoyed it once in a while, especially Yerba Mate lattes. My mom bought me some Yerba Mate tea bags and I started making it every day at home. But the brew started to stain my teeth so I gave it up. If I’m in a shop that serves it I will treat myself once in a while, the health benefits are nothing to sneeze at. I won’t ever drink it every day again, though.

  9. I dunno. I mean, if I can get anti-oxidants and other nutrients from Green or Oolong Tea (which are known to help PREVENT some cancers), why would I drink Mate? Find me a store in North America that sells it that doesn’t also have tea right next to it (probably for less $)… I am just unclear on the upside, especially since I can drink as much green tea as I want, and have more control over the amount of caffeine.

    1. The thing is that it has nothing to do with tea, not the taste (which can be similar to green tea), but the way you drink it, with the gourd and the straw and with friends on your side

      1. That might actually be the most addicting part for me. I won’t say I craved the tea itself, but I *always* loved sharing it with friends, talking about life, laughing a lot…it’s like food for your soul. Now I drink it alone at work because I prefer it over other teas. It’s not even more expensive, now that I found a reasonable source.


    2. hehehe, there are primals in South America. Green is expensive and never seen Oolong, but yerba mate can be bought even in the gas station. There are even free water heaters to fill up your thermos bottle and carry on drinking!

    3. Lower flouride levels for one reason, and it’s a really BIG reason.

      I stay as far away from flouride as I possibly can. It’s far from the cureall that the ADA/AMA/toothpaste commercials would have you believe.

  10. Argentina represent! People are worrying themselves sick. Drink it and enjoy yourself!

    1. That’s right!! There’s nothing like a mate break!! Arriba el mate!!

  11. Hi to you all Groks out there from Uruguay!!

    “mate” is our national tea – almost every uruguayan drinks mate. We carry it to soccer stadiums, parks, etc.

    I drink almost a liter every morning, as part of my paleo diet.

      1. Uds dicen ché también? I thought it was totally Argentinian (and then the Paraguayans borrowed it). Makes sense, though. Y’all are close enough!.


        1. Some people say we are Argentinians who live in South Brazil… absolute nonsense 😉

      2. Hola Alvaro!!!
        Nice to meet you 🙂

        Any more uruguayan paleo out there?

        (ta lleno de argentinos) abrazo a todos!

  12. Been using Yerbe-Mate (unsmoked organic) with my pre-workout shake. Add protein and an aspirin and blend.

  13. I’m avoiding all forms of caffeine while pregnant, though I do like the taste of Mate. There are so many great herbal teas and combination though, I don’t miss the coffee and caffeinated tea at all.
    Right now, my favorite (preparing for labor!) is a tea made of Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa, Nettle and Mint. Lots of antioxidants, vitamin K, and strengthens the uterus.

  14. Just to let you know how much mate we drink here in Uruguay I include this google translation from:

    “The Uruguayans consume approximately 400 million liters of mate (a rate of one liter of water every 80 grams of grass) in a market that imports 32 million kilos a year and bills about $ 90 million. Mate consumption surpasses even that of all soft drink brands together, according to data from consulting firm Retail Id, sold each year about 290 million liters.

    No matter the age or socioeconomic status, nor the time of day or location; mate consumption in Uruguay was able to cut across the company and the product is now chosen by eight out of ten Uruguayans, as the country’s largest consumer of mate in relation to the number of inhabitants.

    Proof of this is the widening has been more in recent years. While in 2004 the target of communication starting from the age of 18, today the barrier contact with the product is brewing at twelve years, driven in most cases the individual’s income to high school.

    Uruguayans last year consumed 31.5 million kilos of yerba mate. So far in 2009 are already being consumed just over 26 million and is projected to finish the year with a 32 million kilos sold. So, Uruguay has a high per capita consumption at 9.4 kilos of grass per person per year, equivalent to a total of 117.5 liters of mate per person in a year.

    Despite sounding numbers, there is no local production of yerba mate, for lack of suitable soil and climate for growing, and Brazil is the main supplier of this product hogging 95% of sales. The remaining 5% is shared between Argentina (the world’s largest producer) and Paraguay. The grass consumed in Uruguay comes specifically from the areas of Santa Catarina, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.”

  15. I’m so glad so many of us are enjoy mate and tereré, hermanos sudamericanos! I totally agree that it’s so much nicer when you can drink it with friends and or family, I have a thrmos in my office with my mate and bombilla and I have another set at home, most people around here have no idea what I’m doind when they see me drinking it and have no interest in drinking it with me 🙁
    @ Jason, good combinations, yum! menta y limon, un clasico

    @ Jose, I walk around with my mate all the time, again, I get puzzled looks, especially since I’ve only met one person from Argentina here… and no Uruguayans or Paraguayans…
    @ F, I’m going to try to start a mate drinking club..j/k! People are way to uptight about germs here…

    1. We should do a meet-up among all of us to enjoy our mate together! 😉

      I used to bring it to work, but they kept calling it my marijuana tea. They thought they were funny, but the jokes get old. And no one would share because of the germs, so I feel you there, Carolina.

      This is how I usually drink it at work now:

    2. I couldn’t imagine drinking it at work (I am at home all day)…when someone walks into the house and sees my gourd and straw on the counter they look at me like I have been smoking on a bong all day! 🙂

        1. Me too…and immediately my coworkers asked me what the heck I was drinking, as if they’d never seen me drinking it before. 😉


  16. Two questions:

    1. Could the vasodilating effect possibly help with Raynaud’s symptoms, or even generally cold hands and feet?

    I avoid caffeine on any regular basis due to mild Raynaud’s, and my episodes are rarer when off caffeine.

    2. Do most people drink this plain like coffee or mixed with other spices, flavors, etc.?

    I like complex tastes like a tea mixture with spices much more than simpler things like regular coffee or tea.

    1. I’ve actually made it with chai before! That is to say I brewed the chai and then used THAT as the water that I added to my guampa. It – was – awesome!


      1. The company ‘Teavana’ makes a chai mate blend that they call ‘Samurai Chai Mate’ (I think) and it’s pretty phenomenal. But any herbs you like can go along with the mate in the gourd or you can just brew herbs into your water that you use to pour in there!

      2. I also recommend it with chamomile makes a very nice combination. If mate causes cancer wouldn’t you see much higher rates of cancer in the southern cone? Though there are fewer cases per thousand people of cancer in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile than we have here in the US.

    2. holding it in your hands while you drink certainly helps with cold hands. The gourd heats up nicely – an added bonus 🙂

    3. Rodney, Thank you for asking this question. I have Raynaud’s also, but have not been to the doctors and thought it was just that my fingers & toes didn’t like the cold. Now (after you mentioning it, and searching internet) I can put a name to it!
      How good is this site? Not only do we get awesome articles from Mark to help us on our Primal journeys, but we get to help each other too!

  17. When I visited Buenos Aires the first time I was fascinated by the drinking of mate. The THOUSANDS of people laying around the park on a Sunday afternoon passing it around was amazing. I wish we Americans knew how to relax so well. I was concerned about the fluoride content since I drink only filtered water and cut down on my green tea consumption to avoid it but according to it only has about 1/5 that of green tea. Good to hear. Plus, I can only guess some naturally occurring fluoride is a completely different story than the poison we involuntarily subjected to in our drinking water. I am not an alarmist but I am convinced there is no reason to fluoridate water and lots of reasons not to. Does anyone have any thoughts about mate and fluoride levels?

    1. Hey Dustin,

      I feel you on the fluoride in the water thing. It makes me uneasy.

      Fluoride, however, is necessary in your body. (

      Our society is so stupid sometimes that it will undo nature’s work just so that it can redo it in a lab. This is the case with salt, for example. Natural salt has good fluoride. When it’s processed, though, they bleach it (taking away all the fluoride) then they re-add fluoride to the salt before they sell it to you.

      It’s not bad to get some natural fluoride from your foods – as a matter of fact, it’s good for you. Just try to make sure the fluoride you’re consuming wasn’t added in a lab.

      (I know this isn’t the topic, but I wanted to address your fears). For salt, for example, buy some colored salt, like Himalayan Pink. That way you know it hasn’t been bleached.

      I’m assuming Mate has some natural fluoride, which should be treated the same as natural salt.

      And yes.. I wish the city would quit putting shit in my water.

      1. There is no physiological use for fluoride in anyone’s body. It’s a deadly halide. Wikipedia is wrong.

      1. Fluoride is a poison… And Cannabis has a long list of health benefits.

  18. I have spent some time in the south of Brazil where yerba mate is drank. My Brazilian friends have warned me about oral cancer.

    We also argued about mate’s caffeine content. One of my friends claimed it doesn’t have caffeine in it. Thanks for clearing this up for me.

  19. Mate is a great drink, and like (most) anything in life, the golden rule of moderation seems to apply.

    I think a lot of it can personally depend on what you are trying to get out of it. Meaning if you like the taste, and the cultural communal feelings mate can evoke for you, then drink it naturally and you are probably not prone to chugging it non stop.

    For people who are looking for some stimulation or a morning pick up there are definitely cleaner alternatives if you are hesitant about possible effects from something like coffee mate etc. For help waking up in the morning a splash of cold water on the face and some stretching to get the blood flowing always works great, and for a pick me up during the day, another round of stretching and even something as simple as jumping jacks to get the lungs moving and ramp up the oxygen intake can go a long way to keeping you up and active.

    Relying on your body’s natural process through motion is always good.

  20. I love having my mate everyday, so I drink it everyday, at work or at home, my colleagues are for the most part used to it, and my boss still cracks jokes about my “green leafy substance”… whatever, people tolerate it pretty well and I’m not one to really care too much about other people’s opinions, but a big part of the ritual is drinking it with other people, so I have to do without that, but it’s better than not drinking it at all, I even take it into my unit’s meetings, if everybody else is drinking coffee, I should be able to have my mate, right? But even though I work for the federal government, my work envirnment is pretty chill and we all get along, if not, I guess it could be harder.

    Someone was asking about flavoring it, you can add a few drops of stevia, you can use cinnamon, milk, orange or lemon rinds, I drink it plain, which means it’s bitter and oh so yummy…

  21. I used to drink a big mug O yerba mate before my Plant identification and Plant Pathology and Irrigation classes which were early in the morning
    and did quit well. I didn’t feel the urge to drink more and more and more like I do with coffee.
    I’m not south american though. Just Canadian.

  22. Mate made me talk too fast, talk too much, made my heart race. And I couldn’t sit still. I’m already hyperactive. Mate made me feel like I was 8 years old again, and out of control. Not fun! Mate is way stronger than coffee for me, and I can barely tolerate coffee. I drink a cup of black tea daily.

  23. Mate had no effect on me, except for it smelling like stale cigarettes.

  24. In my experience, yerba mate doesn’t only work for keeping you awake but also when you have problems with your bowel movements (in Argentina, tipically from eating too much meat and no veggies).

  25. How funny! I was just at Natural Grocers this evening and looking for straws for my son, when a lady showed me a metal straw that she described as being for “drinking yerba mate out of a gourd.” MDA never fails to relate to my daily life (and vice versa)!

  26. I may not love drinking mate but i need to. It’s kinda of a health conscious thing. I hope i can try this one, it looks bitter but good.

  27. I’d read a couple reports about the link between Mate and oral cancer, and I always wondered if it was the Mate or the cigarettes. Since a lot of times it’s a social drink, most of the time people are smoking concurrently. And smoking is still a lot more prevalent (in Uruguay at least) than in the states. Although last time I was there I was pleasantly surprised to find out they’ve banned smoking inside restaurants. I’ll continue drinking my Mate a couple times a week without fear.

    1. I was reading some of these comments to my (Paraguayan) wife yesterday and she said, “If it causes cancer, then all of us in Paraguay would have cancer.” I know it’s a terrible generalization, but if you think about it…MILLIONS of people drink yerba mate every day, most of them drink it all day long. And the vast majority of the people I met are some of the healthiest I’ve ever met.

      I could be wrong, but I think the carcinogenic part is from burned yerba (cocido). They tell you here it’s not good to eat charred meat either. More because of the char than the actual thing that’s charred.

      To be fair, though, one of my Paraguayan friends told me that it can be not good for you if you ingest the actual leaves themselves, but it would have to be copious amounts of it.

      Enjoying a mate now…so tasty!


  28. I drink the guyaki brand yerba mate. I like this brand because guyaki uses only organic yerba mate, supports livable wages and for trade etc. You can take a tour of their facility as well. They make a variety of flavors. Of the ones ive tried, my favorite is Empowermint which in addition to the yerba mate, also contains organic spearmint and peppermint, I believe some stevia and other ingredients. They sell their yerba mate in the traditional form, in tea bags, as well as in cold beverages

  29. I have some friends from Uruguay, and I when I went to visit them, almost everybody in the street could be seen with a thermos under one arm and their gourd in hand. They drank their mate _very_ hot; I had to wait for it to cool down before I could drink (nearly boiling water up a metal straw was not pleasant). Also, the brew gets weaker as you refill the gourd, so if you are sensitive and drinking socially, maybe you should wait until the refill to partake and let the others have the first round- I found that helped with the strong taste, although I’m not sensitive to it otherwise.

  30. In regard to the study about South Americans and cancer link, I have a hard time believing they found a lot of “never-smokers and never-alcohol drinkers”. Most everybody I met smoked, and a lot of those that didn’t said they used to. Wine was also pretty staple in their diet.

  31. I have been drinking mate for at least 15 years. One of the key benefits which every Argentine knows is that it keeps you regular like nothing else. Have your mate when you roll out of bed and you will be taking care of business in 30 minutes like clockwork.

    Also, avoid the US brands sold in health food stores. I pay about $4.50 per kilo (2.2 pounds – or about $2.00 per pound) at an Argentine market called Gaucho Meats. That same amount of the boutique US brand would cost $20 to $40, which is a total ripoff. If you are paying more than about $2.50 per pound you are paying too much. Look for Rosamonte brand.

  32. I have never tried Yerba Mate yet, but have thought about it…just never got around to it. After this post, I may go ahead and try it.
    Also, kinda off topic, but has anyone tried or know anything about Crio Bru ( It is a roasted/brew-able cacao. I would love to hear Mark’s take on it. I ordered some, but have not received it yet. Hoping to receive it today…

  33. I used to drink yerba mate daily until I read about side effects such as oral cancer. That scared me away and it’s been a while since I gave it up. But some of the comments here are easing my concerns…maybe I can dig it out of the pantry and give it another try.

  34. If you live in the south of the US, it’s likely that there’s ornamental yaupon planted nearby. It’s a relative of mate’ and people have used the small, toothed leaves to make a similar brew. The Seminole used to boil the leaves in water to make a black liquid heavy in caffeine, used ritually to bring on visions with nausea as a side-effect — hence the scientific name of yaupon, Ilex vomitoria. I’ve drawn stares by chewing the very bitter leaves instead of drinking morning coffee.

  35. I never had this drink before… I oughta try it sometime. By the way, I love how you cited, great site…

  36. I’ve been Primal for only a few months, and can feel a real difference. I just started drinking Mate a few days ago. As for the Carcinogens in Mate, I’m not concerned. The Primal diet & lifestyle provide plenty of nutrients for combating cancer. As such, I think the benefits of Mate outweigh the risks *if* you eat Primal on a *constantly*. Grok On!

  37. I drink my Mate all day long… tea and coffee give me jitters but not mate. However, I’m curious about the caffeeen levels. How does it decrease after multiple hot water refills?! After two fill ups I notice little cafeen effect…

    1. Hi All,
      There is definitely something special about yerba mate, especially when brewed in combination with ordinary coffee. Today I found out, as well as a whole bunch of other people noticed, that this is a combination-type beverage worth raising a big stink over when you find that your food stamp card will not cover yerba mate. Yep, I raised quite a bit of hell over this. I call it “café-mate.” Even if you’re caffeine sensitive, this combination should definite be tried, particularly if you need to take estrogen replacement as part of a hormone management situation. It is profoundly anti-depressant. I’m also calling it the party beverage of the 21st Century. You can find yourself having a sense of humor that could only be imagined in the wildest dreams. Great for recovering from narcotic/alcohol addictions.

      Keith (Nitro)

      1. That is completely not true about EBT not covering Mate. I buy it all the time with my EBT (food stamp) card in Pennsylvania.

        Why in the world would you mix it with coffee. Just drink it and enjoy it by itself. I go bleary eyed with some of these comments by Americans

  38. I used to live in central and northern chile. I had my gourd and my silver straw for mate, though more popular in the winter time (September to April). people used it in their homes to sip on while also visiting and commenting on familial stuff. They sell ground mate by the kilo, up to 5 kilos, and you can get it just about anywhere.

    I knew of some people getting a spasm when a door was opened and the cold wind blew in. It was just a normal drink, even to mormons.

    In the US desert areas, I used to install drywall and do concrete formwork outside in dead heat. By drinking Yerba Mate once or twice a day, the effect messes up your internal thermostat. The body ‘thinks’ that the ambient hot temperature is cooler than it is, allowing you to work and not suffer as much from extreme heat. You don’t get any spasms, but then again, you make the preparation using a tea ball and a gallon or two of water in a jug (room temperature); maybe 3 tablespoons of sugar. It’s not an instant change. It takes a couple of weeks to kick in. Lento, and not really noticeable until you realise that you could take the heat better and still be sort of refreshed.

  39. Hi, I’m Alejandro. I’m from Argentina, I work in an office and I drink mate all day long, I generally don’t have any breakfast at all. I get to work at about 8 am, drink mate non stop until about 12, and I mean like over 1,5 or 2 liters on daily basis. I eat, wait an hour or so, and then drink another half liter or liter at the afternoon before going back home. I’m never constipated and always well filled with energy, and I don’t drink it looking for an effect, just my way of keeping hidrated and I like the taste. Mate is so common here that the company I work for always fills the kitchens with like, sugar, coffe, milk, etc, and mate. They have to put a lot of kilos of mate daily is the most consumed good.

    If you don’t drink mate in Argentina you are an alien, or unhuman.

    I’m not worried about overdosing it, there are people that practically live on yerba mate. My grandmother is from Uruguay, mate is like a religion to them, all of her ancestors lived over 100 years, she is 86 and she is filled with life and completely lucid.

  40. The esophageal cancer study turned out to be linked not to yerba mate` but to drawing boiling water into the throat through a straw, which explains why the stats come mainly or only from a region where drinkers obviously add the water too hot. Use warm water and relax. cheers, Steve from Montreal.

  41. Just started primal a little over 2 weeks ago, have lost about 5 pounds of fat, and added about 4 pounds of muscle, or somthing close to that. Have been taking fat% test with my electronic fat analyzer, same time every morning. LOVE THIS LIFE STYLE(Never go Hungry)!!!
    Excellent info on the effects on insulin from mate, now being a true Argentinian(living in the US):) ,I can go back to drinking my mate. Traditional Mate drinking is, relaxing, invigorating, and
    goes hand and hand with the primal life style, I think the part of enjoying it with friends as a social drinks, adds even more healthfull benefits:) But please try it the traditional way and not in tea bags, in my opinion that defeats the purpose.

  42. I am from Guatemala, I read about Mate consumption in south american novels and it wasn’t until this Christmas I got my first taste of it, thanks to a gringa friend who loves the stuff. I started to drink it, warm as well as cold and I enjoy it both ways.
    I knew about the richness of antioxidants of this beverage and I was very happy to drink 2-3 cups a day because I recently was diagnosed with bladder cancer.
    Above remarks raise a particular concern for me. I will continue to drink it, but reducing it to one cup a day.
    This is a great export stuff from my argentinean hermanos!

  43. I have read about mate consumption in argentinean novels and it was until a couple of weeks ago I drank my first cup. I was introduced to it by a gringa friend of mine who is a devotee.
    I loved it and started to drink 2-3 cups a day both warm and cold after learning about a mate high content of antioxidants.
    A concern raised now that I read about a possible relation between some form of cancer and mate. I recently was diagnosed with bladder cancer and I don’t want to aggravate my condition.
    I am reducing now my mate intake to one cup a day, just in case.
    I love the taste of it and the energy I get from it. Great export product from my argentinean hermanos!

    1. If you have bladder cancer the first thing you should do is stop smoking anything. at all.
      You should of course follow your urologists advice and procedures as it is almost completely manageable but never cured.
      Other that smoking which is obvious and well known any foreign substance in your body is suspect. So you should quit all exotic weird teas drugs as well. And of course all cured or burnt or barbecued food or smoked meat or fish or cheese.
      I would also quit all antioxidants vitamins and xanthines including coffee tea cocoe and yerba mate of course. Also any antioxidants. The only exception would be any vitamin in which you are deficient.
      I would quit all processed junk food eating only fruit vegetables fish wild game mushrooms.
      But all this is availbale information as to what might cause and prevent cancer.

      But the overwhelming issue is quitting smoking.

      The kidneys filter blood and concentrate all toxic substances. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which just means several six sided hexagonical carbon rings are stuck together and mimic DNA and RNA and as such cause cancer.
      PAH are in tobacco smoke and yerba mate.

  44. I just started consuming Yerba mate, it makes me feel fantastic. I was wondering if the cancer study checked out the water to see if it contributed to the incidence of cancer ? Are they going to do more studies on it? I drink at least 6 cups a day.

  45. Just started getting into Yerba mate and really love it. Great taste. Use raw honey to lightly sweeten it. Make a pot in the morning and drink it thru the day.

    Increased energy and high much different then coffee. noticed right away that my sleep is uninterupted and i am alert and awake until I all of a sudden become tired and am able to fall asleep alot quicker. All within a few days of drinking it. BOOYAH!

  46. playadito is my favorite. The prices on yerba went up in Argentina this year so don’t be surprised if they rise elsewhere as well. 1/2 kilo of playadito is currently 13 pesos or so depending on where you shop. I always drink mate while I’m working 🙂

  47. I drank that stuff constantly when I was in Argentina – all day long and I felt super jittery. And I got diarrea. It may have helped me lose weight (which I did not need to do). I enjoyed it – it’s an acquired taste but I don’t know that I recommend it for health benefits… but that’s based on my experience…

  48. I am new to drinking mate and I have fallen in love with it. I wanted to say that everytime there is a natural product that has very high health benefits, pharmaceutical companies do studies to discredit it in someway, I have noticed. Very strange they dont publish the horrendous side effects of unnatural pharmaceuticals.

    1. The Greek word for drugs and poisons is the same farmakon pharmakon ????????.
      Yes drugs are poisons and poisons are drugs. But it matters not that they are synthetic or natural.
      Many poisons are natural substances such as the hemlock by which Socrates committed suicide. There are thousands of lethally poisonous plants and animals and venomous snakes spiders molluscs insects and of course mushrooms. In Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet they are killed by poisons. So did Lucretia Borgia kill many by poisons.
      All these were natural substances as there was no synthetic poison until the last century.
      Cocaine itself is natural.
      Yerba mate is a poison as is nicotine in tobacco and caffein in coffee.

  49. Forty or more yars ago I drank it for a while then I read it can cause hemorrhagic nephritis so I quit it immediately. But that was a Jamaican herb tea though called yerba maté..
    The story is very complicated. Xanthines are related to one of the nucleic bases of DNA called guanine which is what a coincidence! comes from guano the excrement of South American birds. So are theophylline (tea) theobromine (cocoa) uric acid from purine as well as caffeine. All are very high in N nitrogen which makes them basic as O oxygen would make them acidic. Because they are analogues of nucleic acids or bases it is not surprising that every five years there is a report out that they cause cancer of some sort then that they prevent cancers. Even antioxidants usually trumpeted as anti cancer chemicals are now suspected of actually causing or promoting cancers.
    This has to do with epigenetics smallRNA heritable acquired characteristics which of course is Lamarckian and blows Darwin out of the waters of Galapagos and Rio de le Plata.

    Be that as it may the new subspecialty of science or medicine or biology that is addictology is getting a boost from all this new cellular and molecular knowledge.

    It is clear now that our bodies make millions of chemicals and thousands of enzymes and receptors and transmitters of which one is CART cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript through which all stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine and all xanthines work as neurotransmitters. So prehistoric man has been using what the French call stupéfiants mind altering substances which make us stupid and stooped and stupefied.
    Marihuana is not the entry drug but cocoa coffee tea and nicotine in tobacco.
    Also of course the narcotics of which the original is opium and of course alcohol. All these destroy the receptors they stimulate and cause most of our diseases cancers liver and kidney and heart failure.
    It is quite a chore to get rid of these addictions in our life as they have become deeply embedded in our cultures.
    Clearly yerba mate is the second cult weed of South America after Cocoa and cocaine.
    The ancient Mexicans and Peuvians had gods for these plants just as the Romans had Bacchus and the Greeks Dionysius as the gods of wine and alcohol though they didnt know it but they knew of its inebriating qualities.
    Zen Buddhist Japanese have a veritable cult of their green tea as its seventh cup transports one into an altered state.
    We have degraded these quasi religious mystical uses to drugs of abuse and addiction.

    The joke is that they are all unnecessary as we make adrenalin dopamine GABA endorphin enkephalin dynorphin endoaccanbinoids and CART which are as potent as caffeine or yerba mate or tea or alcohol or morphine or cannabis or even cocaine or amphetamine and hallicinogens more potent than LSD or muscarine .

    We can get high or mystical or pain relief or stimulated or sedated or becoime insane by the resources of our own bodies own natural products and processes without exogenous garbage
    by means of art music science poetry exercise sports meditation prayer books writing painting wood carving dancing singing playing musical instuments and so on. No need for any of these exogenous stupéfiants.

    GPCR is not great proletarian cultural revolution but G protein coupled receptor which serves as the main super receptor of our bodies and handles 5O% of all drugs chemicals neurotransmitters. Quite a trip to get familiar with it. I also recomend the best website on the net the BRAIN FROM TOP TO BOTTOM a McGill website which is not thoroughly cleansed of modern mans addiction to addiction but it gives a good start at any level of knowledge and ignorance the latter of the two being more in evidence as always.

    No sane person would consume any of this stuff nor an ethical MD ever prescribe any of it if they had the faintest clue about organic and biochemistry physiology but above all molecular biology and cell biology.

    You can see uncontacted Brazilian Indians already smoking some weed. Maybe we are not Homo sapiens but animals in search of addiciting mind altering substances.


  50. I found your post insulting to Uruguayans and other South American peoples. Making fun of their use of a gourd to drink out of only shows ignorance. Please do some solid research before making a page and posting incorrect information on it. This is not good information nor is it respectful to those who consume this tea.

  51. Im from Argentina, and i was wondering what people from the north were saying about the yerba mate. i’ve been drinking yerba mate since i was a 10 years old, and sometimes i drink a full thermo… and sincerely i never heard of any cancer victims associated with yerba mate intake. i drink it in the morning, and in the evening, and i never thought about omg it has caffeine or keeps me awake or anything, until my nort american boyfriend started drinking it and actually end up giving up coffee for mate… he drinks less than me though.
    Yerba mate is great, but i never even attempted to buy a brand that is not from argentina. And since i dont like bitter things… i always put a teaspoon of sugar in the water… so much better!!! Enjoy!!

  52. If you haven’t tried mate’s sister plant (also a holly) from the United States, you should give it a try. It’s the only caffeinated plant in North America…..yaupon holly.

  53. I have a friend who has enjoyed Mate all of her life, and is always in the best of health. After reading about the many health benefits, along with my friend’s endorsement, I started drinking a cup in the morning for the past two months now, however, I’m not seeing any of the benefits I read about. I understand that it may take longer, but I think I should be seeing some kind of benefit by now. No increased energy, mental clarity, weight loss, better immunity, etc. (I can just hear some of you out there saying that it might take allot more than a cup of tea!) Anyway, I’ve tried two different kinds/brands of Yerba Mate, one that is dried and smoked, and another that is “fresh green” (non-smoked). I read that the smoked type may contain carcinogenics, so I’ve mostly been drinking the fresh green type. I’m not particular about the taste, so, which of these two processes has the better health benefits? Thanks!

  54. I been paleo for 2 months and my girlfriend who is from Buenos Aries Argentina recently introduced me to mate, i drink cruz de malta brand, had to visit a argentinian shop with her to get what i needed, anyone living in london uk give casa argentina a try will get more when i run out, its now a daily ritual for me to have mate, it is worth drinking mate as i have felt better in myself physically since i started drinking it

  55. I am drinking my first Yerba Mate Guyaki Pure Empower Mint right at this moment. Picked it up at a health food store in Dallas, not realizing it wasn’t actually tea. It’s bottled and I’m drinking it cold. I’ve been really lazy today so I thought this might pep me up a little and get me out the door. It’s a little sweet for my taste – I usually drink unsweetened iced green teas (coffee almost never cause if makes me crazy and upsets my tummy) – and now I see this mate blend has 9gs of organic cane sugar in it. Dang! I also get a sort-of smoky flavor aftertaste which I suppose is an acquired taste; not sure if I like it yet. Halfway through the bottle now, and I do feel more energetic, in a different sort of way than with green tea. And maybe a little headache for which I blame the cane sugar. Why must they always sneak so much sugar into supposedly healthy drinks! Not gonna finish the bottle now because it’s a two serving container and more is not always better 🙂

  56. I buy Yerbe Mate Royale (made by Wisdom of the Ancients) from It is instant tea so I drink it cold before working out. I just put it in a couple of ounces of water & drink with a straw as I don’t care too much for tea. Helps my focus & endurance but I’m the type who gets the afternoon crash because of caffeine. When I was vegan for 10 years I never needed caffeine but now after turning 40, having a special needs son & eating more meat I find I need it. Meat seems to help my workout recovery & muscle gain, yet makes me feel sluggish. I am grain free but I love my sweet potatoes & squash!

    Train insane or remain the same!

  57. As for the correlation between drinking yerba mate and cancer, the researchers neglected to note the even stronger correlation between those drinking yerba mate, and heavy smokers which just might have something to do with why so many of those drinking yerba mate have cancer!??

  58. The Mate (the hollow gourd) should never go into the dishwasher!!!

  59. I really love mate and I drink it every day. One of the things I love most is the whole mate culture. There is all sorts of folk songs and legends that go together with mate, but are rarely know outside the mate regions of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

  60. I’m personally a fan of yerba maté.
    I spend some time in Paraguay and got hooked very easy.

    Now, I think to open the discussion on yerba maté and caffeine, you have to make a difference between drinking it the traditional way (you know with the gourd, which I don’t advice you to put in the dishwasher by the way, especially if yours is wooden or from vegetal origins like mine 😉 or as an instant powder or pre-bottled.
    Because, while it’s true that most yerba contains about the same amount of caffeine as say coffee: by pouring water over it over and over again, you are able to extract a lot more of it (I’m guessing drinking it hot or cold also will have an influence, although strangely enough I get more caffeine-effect from the cold terere).
    and whether you are drinking alone or in a group (as it was traditionally meant: sharin the buzz :p).

    For me personally I prefer mate over coffee, but I too can testify to its nerve-wrecking effects when you ‘overdose’ so to speak :). So try a smaller gourd or drink in company (some people avoid drinking the first few sips, because they contain the most caffeine and are also more bitter in taste). I guess as with coffee it’s also something you will get used to.

    As to it’s addictiveness: if you drink mate for a while on the same time of day and then you stop for a day you will get a headache not long after your usual ‘mate-time’. So I would definetely say it has some kind of addictive features.

    In my personal opinion, if you are not already hooked on caffeine, it’s better to avoid it all together, but if you are looking for something to switch it up a little, yerba mate might be a good alternative!

    About the relation with cancers, be aware that in south-american countries maté is also shared by drinking from the same straw (whereas at least here in Europe, we like to each have our own glass for hygienic purposes). I’ve always wondered, whether that wouldn’t be an easy way for diseases or virusses to spread around, regardless of the drink itself.

  61. I’ve only started drinking Yerba Mate within the last two months and I’m now a firm believer that coffee, tea and mate effect everyone differently. I love a good cup of cappuccino but it makes me gitty and jittery and once the sugar and caffeine wears off, I come crashing down like a house of cards. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of green tea but I switched to green tea for the health benefits and less caffeine. I never felt jittery or gitty with green tea but what I did often experience was irritability regardless of whether I had one cup or three in a day. So I switched to drinking herbal teas like rooibos. I’m a sipper, so I’m always looking for something warm and flavorful to enjoy. I got curious about Yerba Mate and gave it a try. The taste reminded me of green tea but upon my first experience of drinking mate, I felt this relaxed euphoria. I don’t know if that’s typical for others that drink mate but for me that was the biggest difference in relation to coffee and tea. I experience a sense of sustained energy when I workout without any jitters, irritability or crashing. For me these results are based upon me drinking only one cup of mate a day. I experimented and took to having three cups a day for three days and experienced the most freaked out state I have ever experienced. I was gitty and paranoid at the same time and it took me all most a week to get back to feeling normal again. That’s when I realized that for me, how much caffeine and the caffeine source has a lot to do with how caffeine effects me. As long as I have one 8oz cup of warm steeped loose leaf (1.5 tsp) or one bag of Yerba Mate in the afternoon I get sustained energy with a relaxing peaceful sense of well being without ever experiencing sleeplessness, irritability, jitters, gittiness or crashing. But this is just my experience. Others may be different. I now prefer mate over green tea but I still like a cappuccino every now and then.

  62. The cancer risk is associated with 2 things; smoked variety (carcinogens) of yerba mate, and drinking hot from bombillas (water temperature too high when drunk).

    If you buy the freshly dried (not aged), organic, non-smoked variety, and drink it when it has cooled down to temperatures below 60 C degrees, there is no evidence suggesting it induces any kind of cancer to your body. On the contrary, it might even help your body get rid of any existing or developing cancer, in addition to its other vast health benefits.

    I suggest using a french press, and remember to soak the leaves in cool water before pouring the hot water on them (70-80 C water). Brew for 3-5 min and enjoy.

  63. Great article, good information and commentaries. I’m Brazilian, born and raised in Porto Alegre in the southern portion of Brazil. I drink the traditional “chimarrão” (mate in the gourd with the bombilla – “bomba” here) since I was a kid. I’m 61 years old, healthy, and always enjoy an early morning and late afternoon mate. Even when residing in the States for many years I always maintained the habit.

    Here in Brazil I drink organic “Yacuy” brand mate, and “Tertúlia” brand. I find these to be the freshest and best tasting. Brazil is the biggest producer of quality mate and exports to all the neighboring countries, and Europe. Personally I find that the Argentinian and Uruguayan pure leaf varieties of mate extremely bitter, due to the type of processing – it is aged for up to a year – which enhances the bitterness. It is a question of taste, here we prefer the greener, foamy, infusion.

  64. Yerba Mate is amazing! It wakes you up and gives you awesome energy, plus has lots of wonderful nutrition.

    The increased risk of cancer does not happen with air dried Yerba Mate. The regular Yerba Mate is dried over a fire, and so captures some of the carcinogens from smoke. Look for Yerba Mate that says it’s air dried, and skip the risk of cancer.

  65. I have never tried yerba mate alone but I have been adding 1/2 scoop of it (loose) to my coffee for years. I am surprised to find that it has less caffeine than coffee because it turns coffee into an energy drink even without sugar (or honey).
    I am the chronic pot a day coffee drinker that Mark was warning about. It does give coffee a grassy/herbal taste that no one else seems to like so I get the whole pot to myself. Yee-Ha.

  66. I love Yerba Mate. I have been trying to cut back on coffee use, and have found that Mate is a wonderful substitute. I get zero jittery feeling, and it is a much steadier and smooth stimulant compared to coffee.

    I wrote my thoughts on Mate here:

    If you are interested in an alternative to coffee, or just don’t like how coffee makes you feel (jittery, upset stomach, headaches, etc.) you should give Yerba Mate a try. Just make sure to get high quality stuff (ideally, air-dried varieties like Guayaki San Mateo air-dried mate).

    All the best,


  67. Beware! I get severe withdrawal from Mate. Migraine and vomiting. It’s awful. Depending on your daily dose and how long you have been drinking it everyday the withdrawal can be slight or severe.

    To test it. Try going 48 hours without it. If by 31 to 39 hours after cessation you don’t feel anything that is good. But at least wait the full 48 hours or longer to know it is out of your system

    Withdrawal starts many hours after 24 hours without mate. Coffee withdrawal may no start until 48 to 72 hours but is usually about 18 to 24 hours. Many people don’t know they will have serious withdrawal because they don’t go that long without it

    I suffered a lot and decided to write down when the withdrawal starts and ends. That is why I can be specific about the hours/days. To go through full withdrawal of Mate it will take about 9 hours of severe headache and nausea. The nausea starts a few hours after the headache. I notice that my saliva gets frothy and white right before I have to through up.

    To stop the withdrawal you must drink strong cups of Mate. Measure each unit dose. The next few days start to ween off slowly.

  68. Thanks for the info! I have just bought a Yerba Mate starter pack and made my first mate…I followed all the YouTube instructions and yet, I can’t drink it as its SO bitter…any ideas? ????

  69. I use the little stove top Bialetti espresso pot for Mate. About 6 tsp fit into the
    insert, and it makes a strong shot that tastes great with half and half and stevia.
    That’s about 160mg of potential caffeine extraction. Definitely different from coffee.

  70. I am drinking it now for about 4 years. I do got a bit more skinny, since it is an appatite surpressant, but overall I feel great. I have more energy and I am much more focused when I start working.

    For me Yerba mate is the best tea out there.

  71. I loved reading your article. Thanks for sharing =) This magical plant does have numerous benefits. It’s a great way to start my day. It’s a way of life back for the people back in my homeland in Argentina.

  72. Hi,

    I tired to read through all the comments but there are so many here, so I apologize if this has already been asked and answered.

    My husband is from Chile and his family shared mate with me while vacationing there last year. I forgot to check what type/brand they were drinking because everything I have found in Florida tastes terrible. I am looking to find a good mate not only for the health benefits (I suffer from Hypothyroid and have heard it may help with symptoms) but also to remind my husband of home and our time there. My question is do the flavored mates like the ones found on Circle of Drink have the same health benefits as non flavored? Does the added spices/herbs take away from the original mate?

    The prices on Circle of Drink seem very expensive $$$ as well when compared to what I have seen in the Latin markets here. But if they taste better it may be worth the expense!

    Thank you for the help!

  73. i think yerba mate is just the best, it’s healthy, energizing and tastes great! i dont understand why some people want to prove that yerba can be unhealthy (it’s common opinion nowadays)

  74. Funny review, I see it is done from the point of view of someone who is not to verse in the South American mate culture. I am from Argentina. The mate habit goes back 200 years and we get it from our grandparents. Children as young as one year old take it as a tea, light and diluted, with milk in their bottles. As we grow up we take it very strong, we infuse a tablespoon of the herb with near-boiled water and perhaps a teaspoon of sugar. That is the way I used to take it in my thermos through elementary school. The rest of the adults take it daily a lot stronger: about a cup of the dry herb in a previously “cured” gourd, where we pour approx. a quarter cup near-boiled water. (Without sugar is pretty bitter but most men like it like that.) Deep in the country, in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, where you’ll find people in their hundreds (and cancer is unknown) people take a very strong form of mate which probably no American could tolerate.

  75. I really love yerba mate, the feeling that comes with it is amazing. I’ve been drinking mate since I was 4 years old. I was used to the cold roasted mate since my parents were from Rio, then my sister introduced me to the green one from the south of Brazil. Really good stuff, they call “chimarrao”.

    Lately came across a new brand on amazon and it became my absolute favorite. So if you are looking for a suggestion check INATO mate , I get mine on amazon.

    It really different than all the other brands, air-dried, really PRIME stuff, it’s just fresher and you can tell the leaves have a superior quality. I am hooked on it, so are my friends here at the office. I make a gourd in the morning and refill 3-4 times during the day.

    Hakuna My Mate!

  76. It’s good that you were able to shed some light on the issues regarding Yerba and not focusing on only one side. I think it’s great to get informed. Thanks for sharing!