Cold Brewed, Delicious, & Healthy: Yerba Mate Tea

I drank my first sip of Yerba Mate (mah TAY) while working a barista job at a natural foods grocery in Boulder, Colorado. Thinking the greenish tea tasted bitter and grassy, I switched back to coffee immediately. While researching for natural, healthy stimulants for a hiking trip, my boyfriend Ryan came across mate tea. We decided, instead of chemically prepared instant coffee, to bring mate tea as our morning stimulant. I was hooked. Although both contain caffeine, Mate provided me with prolonged energy unlike coffee causing jitters and a crash.

Yerba Mate originates in South America. Considered an herbal tea (not a green tea!), yerba mate is made by steeping the dried leaves and twigs of the mate plant. Mate can be prepared hot, cold, or even as a latte. Mate is rich in antioxidants, numerous vitamins and minerals, and amino acids. Instead of delving more into the health benefits of mate, here are a few articles I recommend to peruse.

6 Health Benefits of Yerba Mate
The Unrivaled Health of Yerba Mate

I particularly wanted to write about mate to introduce the idea of iced mate. Being from Texas, sweet and unsweetened iced teas are southern food staples. When I first moved in with my boyfriend Ryan, one of the only kitchen appliances he owned was an iced tea maker. Of course, I thought the idea of an iced tea maker was hilarious and nothing more than a glorified coffee pot. Needless to say, that ice tea maker made a great addition to the shelves of Goodwill.

With iced mate in mind, Ryan and I purchased a big bag of loose leaf Mate from Whole Foods last week. For some reason or another, I love loose leaf tea but tea bags work just as well. I recommend purchasing organic mate. I actually think organic mate is the only kind of mate found in stores (don’t quote me on that). Whole Foods provides a variety of brands of yerba mate. I recommend any.

I feel obligated to inform first time mate drinkers. Mate is bitter. Mate might be considered an acquired taste. However, the bitter taste of mate can be masked by adding juice and/or sweeteners.

How to make Yerba Mate Hot and Cold:

I have been experimenting with different flavors in my iced mate. Lately, I steep my mate in orange juice, apple juice, and water. After steeping, I add agave or honey for sweetener.

Hot Mate:

1.5 tsp/8 oz of water at 208 degrees F.
Steep for 5-6 minutes.

Cold Brewed Iced Mate:

15 tablespoons of yerba mate/gallon
Cheesecloth or coffee filter (if using looseleaf)
Sweetener (optional) – honey, agave, sugar
Juice (optional)

If making your own juice (per gallon):
Blender or Juicer
3 oranges
1 apple
(or more depending on the efficiency of your juice/blender)

For the record:
I do not own a juicer. I own a Nutribullet.  I blend my fruits and add the juice and pulp to my pitcher. Since I am using loose leaf tea, I will eventually filter the pulp along with the tea leaves with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

I practice the art of cold brew tea. I do not add hot water. I add my tea leaves (or bags) to my pitcher along with my juice and fill the rest with cold water. If you are not making your own juice, simply start using half juice/half water in your pitcher. Depending on your tastes, add more or less of either for your next batch.

After adding tea, juices, and water, steep your tea overnight. I do not add sweetener until steeping is complete. I do this so I have a finished product to taste for to decide if I need to add sweetener. If using store-bought juices, your mate will probably be sweet enough.

Wanting to add a sweetener to your cold brew? Here’s a trick!
DO NOT ADD DIRECTLY TO PITCHER. Since the mate is cold, the sweetener will not blend well. Add your honey, agave, or sugar to a small bowl or mug. Then, add a small amount of hot water. Mix. Then add watery sweetener to pitcher.

Mason Jar of Mate

Enjoy your delicious glass of cold brewed mate!

6 thoughts on “Cold Brewed, Delicious, & Healthy: Yerba Mate Tea”

  1. Hey,

    Great article. I’ve been cold brewing mate for a few days. Feel like making a bigger batch to last longer.

    Any idea how many days the cold brew latest ?


  2. I don’t get why you think it is so bitter; I think regular Lipton black tea is more bitter than Mate. I also grew up in Texas and my parents always had a huge gallon glass jar on the porch to make sun tea, and yes, they liked it sweet!
    Surprisingly, I discovered mate on my own. A local vegan store near my home had it, so i bought a 1/2 bag and on the back it had directions for cold brewing.
    I did that, and added lemon to it. Within about a month, my roommate had met a woman from Argentina. She was overjoyed that we had been drinking Mate so recently. Before she returned to her country, she left me a big 2 lb. bag, plus her special “gourd cup” and metal straw that the locals there all use to drink it.
    I agree with you on the longer lasting perk and no crash, and of course, it does have some health benefits.
    I did however, come across some literature on it that says it is possibly a throat cancer-causing substance. I still drink it, but I hope I am not making a big mistake.

  3. Great article. I totally stay away from any other energy drinks. I still drink coffee, but Yerba mate is really great. I drink it every day. I stay more productive, I drink it before doing sports. I am always surprised how does it boost the level of energy.

    I discovered it during traveling in Argentina and became a bit obsessed with it ever since.

    In summer I usually make iced tea, in winter I drink it from the gourd. 🙂


  4. The reason you say mate is bitter is that your directions for hot Yerba mate to use 208 degree water. This is too hot! The proper way is to add your Yerba to brewing vessel then add some cold water to protect the leaves. After that then brew using water of 170 to 175 degrees max for 5 min or so and your Yerba should taste a lot better. Also sweetener will ruin the Yerba.

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