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WHAT IS YERBA MATE?

Yerb Mate is South America's famous green tea which has won worldwide admiration because of its special energizing and nutritional qualities, as well as its uinque delicious flavor. Mate is made from the dried leaves of Ilex Paraguarensis, a native South American holly. Long used by the indigenous people of South America it was adopted by European colonizers from the 17th Century onwards. Today Mate is consumed by millions of South Americans as an all occasion drink, occupying a position like that of coffee in the US or tea in Britian and China.

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NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES OF
YERBA MATE

The beneficial and therapeutic aspects of yerba mate (Ilex paraguayensis), verified after centuries of observations and use, were lately confirmed by numerous scientific studies. As to its chemical properties, yerba mate is similar to green tea, though much more nutritious. Significant quantities of potash, sodium and magnesium are present in the leaves as well as the infusion. (Tenorio Sanz, Torija Isasa 1991). Vitamins B-1, B-2, A, riboflavin, carotene, colin, pantothenic acid, inositol and 15 types of aminoacids (F. Alikaridis 1987) are also contained. These, as well as the presence of eleven polyphenols (Kawakami, A. Kabayashi 1991) are some of the components that make yerba mate a very healthy drink. Recent studies indicate that polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that strengthen the organism´s natural defences, and protect it against the cellular destruction that cause physical deterioration and the development of sicknesses. (J. Carper 1988). Mateine, a chemical substance from the family of the xanteins, is also contained in yerba mate. Its chemical structure is similar to that of caffeine, but with different effects on the body. Even though mateine, as caffeine, is a stimulant of the central nervous system and a promoter of mental activity, it is different from the later as it does not interfere with sleeping patterns. And contrarily to other xanteins, mateine is also a smooth diuretic. Regarding the effects of yerba mate, changes in behaviour such as an increase in energy and vitality are also observed, as well as an increased capacity of concentration, reduction of nervousness and increased resistance to mental and physical fatigue. An improvement of mood, specially in cases of depression, frequently occurs as a result of its use (D. Mowrey 1991). Apart from providing essential minerals to the body, such a potash, sodium and magnesium, yerba mate retards the accumulation of lactic acid in muscles. This turns it into an excellent natural energizer for people that practice sports or other physical activities (D. Mowrey 1991) .

YERBA MATE PREPARATION

Yerba Mate is a product with unquestionable qualities, and is an ideal drink to enjoy at all times, by all ages. There are two ways of preparing it, though for each there are as many variations as there are consumers.

POURED MATE: It´s prepared in a small gourd (called the "mate"), filled two thirds full with yerba mate. The infusion is obtained by pouring hot water that should not have been boiled (ideally 80°C), into the mate gourd. It is drunk through a metal straw that has a filter in its lower tip (the bombilla), so that particles don´t get drawn in. This is the traditional method of preparation in Argentina, where it turns more into daily ritual than a simple drink. A glass or metal cup can also be used instead of the "mate" gourd.

KEYS TO A CORRECT PREPARATION: - The mate gourd is filled with yerba mate up to two thirds of its volume. - Then, the yerba on one side is wet with a large spoonful of cold or warm water. - After a minute, the metal straw or bombilla is introduced in the same spot, until it reaches the bottom of the gourd. - Hot water, but never boiling, can then be poured on the same side of the cup, taking care not to wet the whole surface of mate leaf.This pouring procedure is called "cebar" in Argentina, and it is considered an art by the aficionados of mate.

CUP MATE (Mate Cocido) Mate can be prepared in a cup using loose leaves, just like any other infusion like tea. It is called "mate cocido" in Argentina. Like many other infusions, it can be enjoyed hot or cold, and can be sweetened with sugar or honey according to taste. By adding milk, it becomes an ideal drink for children.

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