Most adults in the United States wake up in the morning to a steaming pot of coffee. The U.S. has a thriving coffee culture. Kids see their parents drinking coffee in the mornings, as they get older they yearn for added energy, they start drinking coffee, and the cycle continues. But most people never stop and think is coffee the cleanest and most effective way to get an energy boost? The South American tea Yerba Mate benefits energy levels in a variety of unique ways. Yerba Mate tea rivals coffee’s energy boosting powers and should be seriously considered as an alternative to your morning cup of coffee. Browse popular Yerba Mate brands here.
Key Energy Boosting Ingredients & Compounds
- 78 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce cup of Yerba Mate
- 24 vitamins and minerals
- 15 amino acids
- Theobromine, the stimulating and relaxing chemical found in chocolate
- Antioxidants, associated with both mental clarity and relaxed brain waves.
Yerba Mate Caffeine Content
Yerba mate contains high levels of caffeine. Depending on how you brew your Mate, it can range from about 20 mg of caffeine per cup when using a tea bag, up to 135 mg per cup when using lose leaf mate (10). With an average amount of 78 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce cup Yerba Mate has considerably higher amounts of caffeine than green tea, equal amounts of caffeine as Red Bull, and just slightly lower levels of caffeine than the average cup of coffee. (8)
Does Yerba Mate Tea Have Caffeine or Mateine?
Many South Americans dispute the point that their beloved tea has caffeine in it. They
argue that the energy boosting ingredient found in Yerba Mate is actually the stimulant “Mateine”. They point to the evidence that the energy increasing boost from mate that users feel is distinct from caffeine. Many western researchers have found no evidence that mateine is a distinct chemical compound from caffeine. These researchers instead point to the balance of caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids that give Yerba Mate its distinctly unique energy boost profile. However this point is a hotly contested one here in South America, and I know from experience that it is something that is a point best to avoid when arguing with any native South American! (11)
24 Vitamins & Minerals
One of the least appreciated but most important yerba mate benefits is the presents of large amounts of vitamins and minerals. Yerba Mate contains vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Selenium, Sulfur, Phosphorous, sodium, manganese, Niacin, and Magnesium. (3)(4)(5) The wide range of vitamins and minerals found in Mate give this drink a nutritional profile that rivals the coffee bean.
15 Amino Acids
Yerba mate drinks are rich in amino acids, one such amino acid is L-Theanine. L-Theanine is known to increase levels of attention and alertness without causing drowsiness according to research done by Olivier van Noortlaan at the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute (7).This special amino acid has been shown to increase user’s mental arousal levels while simultaneously increasing alpha waves found in the brain. Alpha waves are known to relax the mind. This curious chemical that both contributes to metal clarity and brain wave relaxation is another indicator of Yerba Mate’s unique blend of both energizing and relaxing mental effects.
Mate & Theobromine, the Chocolate Chemical
Theobromnine is most famous for its presence in the cacao bean, the basic ingredient in all chocolate. Theobromine has a stimulating effect on the body which adds to the overall energy boost that yerba mate gives. However, unlike caffeine Theobromine also exhibits relaxing effects. Theobromine lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels (6). It has been seen to relax the bronchi mussels of the lungs as well as increase blood flow around the body (7). This balance of nerves system stimulation and blood vessel dilatation could be a reason why many users describe yerba mates effects as an energizing but non-jittery caffeine boost.
Yerba mate contains high levels of many antioxidants that are known to promote positive health effects in the body. According to research done in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (8) yerba mate based beverages contain higher amounts of antioxidants than any other tea based and non-tea based beverage on the market. (9) This antioxidant boost pumps up your energy levels, and creates lasting energy that lasts all day. These energy sustaining antioxidants are long lasting and free of any jittery or negative come-down effects frequently associated with caffeine.
What is Mate Tea?
Yerba mate is a tea that is drunk daily by hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is most commonly found in Argentina, the south of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile. Yerba Mate is the equivalent of a morning cup of coffee to millions of South Americans who drink it daily. It can be drunk in loose leaf form, using a mate gourd (cup) or bombilla (straw), or in tea bags.
As you can see Yerba Mate benefits energy levels in a variety of ways. Mate’s unique mix of caffeine, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants create a sustained boost in energy levels while also simultaneously relaxing certain aspects of the body. This mix of mental alacrity and relaxed body effects is often touted as the most significant Yerba Mate benefit. In later posts I will dive deeper into each category listed in this post, and address other chemical compounds that make Yerba Mate unique. If you are interested in trying Yerba Mate, you can find top selling products here.