Latin name: Ilex paraguariensis A. St. Hil
Family: Aquafoliaceae (holly family)
Common names: Yerba mate, yerva mate, maté, Paraguay tea, St Bartholomew’s tea, Jesuit’s tea, ilex, hervea, guyaki, chimarrão, cimmaron.
Part used: Leaf (dried) and tender stems.
Key constituents: flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol and rutin); polyphenols (particularly caffeoyl derivatives); xanthine alkaloids (caffeine (0.7-1.7% w/w), theobromine (0.3-0.9%) and theophylline (absent or trace); saponins; minerals such as potassium, manganese and magnesium.
Yerba mate is made from the leaves of the Argentinian holy bush and according to the Pasteur Institute in Paris it contains almost all the vitamins necessary to sustain life.1 It is traditionally consumed in the countries of central and South America. Maté traditionally comes in three forms, green (unprocessed typically drunk in Argentina), partially roasted and fully roasted (typically drunk in Brazil). The flavours range from bitter herbaceous in green to very smoky and rounded in the fully roasted versions. Fans say it has the strength of coffee, benefits of tea and the feeling of chocolate,2 so it’s no surprise that mate, as it is sometimes known, is added to some energy drinks.