Yerba mate tea, often just referred to as partner, is a herbal tea made out of the leaves of Ilex paraguariensis. This plant, being at the Ilex genus, is a species of holly, related to the familiar American holly or English hollies. Yerba mate is unusual as it’s one of the few caffeinated herbal teas, indeed, the sole sour herbal tea that’s widely available in western states.
It isn’t technically tea (the only authentic teas come from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis), and, though it’s technically an herbal tea, folks selling it generally refrain from labelling it as such, because people tend to assume that herbal teas are caffeine free, and Yerba mate contains caffeine.
Traditional Drinking of Mate
Yerba mate is consumed traditionally in several of the native cultures of South America. This civilization has spread to the traditional cultures of a number of the nations of South America, which have combined both European and Native American cultural practices.
Traditionally, the partner leaves are steeped and the drink is served in a hollow gourd. Loose leaf mate is steeped in warm water at the gourd. These gourds are created rather durable, sometimes reinforced with metal or leather. A group of individuals would then drink mate by passing the gourd around, and drinking it through a straw. The straw has a strainer inside, which filters out the leaves.
Health consequences of Yerba Mate
Yerba mate has received some conflicting attention in association with its supposed health risks and benefits. Unfortunately, there’s far less research on partner than on tea or coffee, and there are still many unanswered questions about the ramifications that this plant and the beverage made from it have on health.
Some of the early research on partner suggested that it may be carcinogenic. However, it was later discovered that much of the risk resulted from how it had been consumed: drinking hot liquids through a straw can raise the risk of burns and irritation to the mouth and throat, which, if done regularly over a prolonged time period, may result in an increased risk of throat and mouth cancer. Another confounding factor was that the early research on mate was completed on populations that have exceptionally heavy use of tobacco and alcohol, on top of very heavy mate ingestion. It’s been suggested that mate does not really raise cancer risk, but only makes one more vulnerable to carcinogens within alcohol and tobacco.
Another research, which wasn’t confounded with these factors, has discovered powerful anti-cancer activity related to mate. So it could turn out that partner is beneficial after all, although this has not yet been verified by a huge body of powerful research.
Yerba mate is a fascinating herbal drink, one of the few naturally carbonated beverages aside from coffee or tea, and undoubtedly the most widespread caffeinated beverage in america after coffee or tea. It remains somewhat outside the mainstream but is definitely worth trying for individuals who enjoy consuming caffeine but would like to try something different. Little is known about the health effects of partner, but a number of the prior research that suggested that it was carcinogenic was discovered to have confounding variables, so the drink is likely a great deal safer than those first studies gave the impression of.