Maté and cancer
- I really enjoy maté a lot, but I've decided to quit drinking it. I did
search after search for information about health risks associated with
yerba maté. Eventually, I found this
page, in google's cache. Such a page to remove! There needs to be more
information on the web about maté's health risks. Everything you see is
about how great it is for you, from the people who sell the stuff.
- I developed a serious, long-lasting cough. I began to notice that
it might be associated with my maté consumption.
- I'm going back to camellia sinensis!
- See also this
it's just the temperature?
- Aviva has what
appears to be a pretty good FAQ about Mate that includes good stuff
and bad stuff. Could this be the balanced info I've been waiting
- Yerba Mate online
- Jaguar Yerba
- Health by the
- soygaucho -
requires flash - lots of info in a fancy format. This is actually
a broader site with lots of Argentinian cultural info, that has
a subsection of stuff about yerba maté.
- yerbamate.com - this used
to be a top link on google, but they've been remodeling for some
time now after an ownership change.
ancientwisdomherbals - guampas and bombillas for cheap (not taking
orders Mon Nov 19 20:58:49 PST 2001)
- Guayakí: nice
guampas and bombillas
- ma-tea - a nice
selection of guampas and bombillas
- An Argentinian whose post I ran into on the net said premium yerba
maté (presumably green) can be had for $5/kilo. Many places
charge far more than this. I'm somewhat inclined to believe this
information is slightly dated though. There truly is quite
a range of prices out there on the net, and I've been
able to find really top notch, organic, shade-grown, &c for
- organic and shade-grown, but I believe it's not produced on a
cool nature preserve like Guayakí
- 1Kg, $11.95 - oops, price went up to $12.95/Kg. Since a Kg
is 2.205 pounds, this is about half the
price of Guayakí yerba.
- I got a kilogram bag of this, and am very happy with it. It's
almost used up, so I ordered 3 more Kg - 2 for me and one for a
friend. 2 may be a bit much, but I'm hoping to make sure it'll
last through the holidays, during which I imagine shipping
will be very slow.
- It has no stems, but my bombilla has only gotten plugged up once,
and it was pretty easy to unplug
- Nativa yerba is aged for at least 1 year - some consider this the
- Nice detailed website telling us all about their yerba
- Good customer service
- Their tea is not grown in sunlight, and is grown without
- 1-4 lbs for $12.00/lb
- Guayakí yerba has stems, which is traditionally considered better
for properly packing a guampa, but produces a more bitter
- Their yerba is cured for 6 months. Some believe the minimum aging
should be one year.
- Guayakí supports a nature preserve on which their yerba is
- I have some Guayakí tea bags, and don't care for them that
much, but then I've never been a big fan of tea bags.
- A coworker got a bag of Guayakí looseleaf, and let me try a
gourd of it. I didn't like the taste as much as nativa, and I
think it affected me more than the nativa yerba does - maybe
a little less pleasantly. However, this is based on just one
gourd, so maybe I'd grow to prefer Guayakí's product with
- Nice detailed website telling us all about their yerba
- yerba mate revolution - They
have La Rubia for about $12/Kg, and a nice selection of other
varieties as well, though they seem to run out of stock on various
items a lot. I like it that they tell you at least a little bit
about the yerba they have to offer on their website, but
I wish they had the kind of detail Guayakí and Nativa
have. These folks have good customer service.
- yerbamatetea.com an
alternative source of Nativa, perhaps a little higher priced
- Old San
Juan Grocery - reportedly 5 to 10 times cheaper prices on maté -
IIRC, they don't have a secure web order form
- ma-tea - nice
selection, very little information about what you're getting
Lots of different brands of inexpensive yerba maté from
Mercado Del Plata - Have La Merced organic, $8.50/lb. Not sure if
- these folks appear to have some sort of relationship with ymrev
yerba mate central. Prices seem kind of high. Very little
information about the maté. They claim their stuff is fresher.
Interestingly, their guampas are all bullhorns.
What makes good green yerba maté?
glenbrookfarm - Has maté chino: 16 oz, $14.99 - oops, price went
up to $20.50/lb. I haven't had much desire for this sort of thing
since I learned to appreciate good green yerba maté. This is
like a completely different beverage. It's far less stimulating,
and tastes basically like cocoa. I wouldn't be surprised if you could
leave the roasted maté out of it and not really notice a difference.
- Being organic of course drives up the price, but no nasty pesticides
- Fertilizers. Some folks use stuff like cow dung instead of that
relatively empty, more common stuff.
- Being grown in the shade is supposed to help the taste. I haven't tried
maté that wasn't grown in the shade yet, so I have no basis for
- Stems vs no stems (con palo vs sin palo)
- Stems make for a slightly more stimulating brew
- Stems make the brew a little more bitter - I suspect this is
more true of hot maté than cold
- Stems purportedly help with the "natural filter" thing
- Stems are supposed to be better for properly packing a
- Aging. Some say a year should be considered the minimum aging
period, but I was told by a longtime daily maté drinker, who's an
Italian living in Brazil, that "fresh"
maté is the best, which sort of sounds like it's just been
- This isn't really an aspect of the yerba itself, but drinking
from a real gourd instead of a wooden guampa or bullhorn or
something reportedly makes the maté taste less bitter. I've
noticed this myself with a wooden guampa
- Comparing methods
- I haven't tried an espresso machine. This sounds a little
more intense than what I want from my maté
- When I use a tea ball, the maté always comes out bitter, and
it seems harder to use a little cold water first.
- If I use a guampa and bombilla, the tea starts out a little bitter,
and gets sweeter as I go through the water. This is my
favorite way of having maté.
- The French press is very convenient, and works out better if
you want something to sip while driving, or during a meeting. I
prefer using a guampa when I have the freedom to do so.
I find it easy to use too much yerba with a French press;
somehow it always seems like I haven't put in enough until I
have a truckload in there. One way of combatting this is to
fill a guampa to its usual level, and dump (only) the content of the
guampa into the press.
- Traditional instructions (btw, I'm not an expert at this.
I've just studied about it on the web, and I had some with some
Using a French Press - some different versions
- Fill your guampa (cup) about 50 to 75% full of yerba. 75% makes
tea stronger, and you have to fill your guampa back up with water
- Poor a little cool water into the guampa over the yerba, and let
it soak in. This prevents "killing the maté".
- Poor some hot water in (not boiling!), and let that soak in.
Repeat until you see the level of the tea rising toward the
brim and not sinking back down.
- Put your thumb over the mouthpiece of your bombilla (straw),
and push it into the yerba. Try not to stir it around, or
you'll get more grit into your mouth through the bombilla.
- Sip off the tea. Refill with hot water (178 degrees
Fahrenheit). Repeat until you
can barely taste the tea.
- Expect it to start out tasting kind of edgy, but to get
sweeter and alfalfa-y as you refill the guampa enough times.
- As you gain more experience drinking the tea, you'll likely
learn to enjoy both the edgy taste, as well as the more readily
accessible sweet taste, much as a coffee drinker grows
accustomed to the taste of coffee.
Gourd, aka "guampa" or "maté" (yes, the word's used ambiguously) or
- Heat cool tepid water from the tap. Steep for three minutes
- Place 2-5 Tablespoons (more or less to taste) in top of
press and process as usual.
- Fill your press with 3-4 tablespoons of yerba maté (use more
or less according to your desired strength). We recommend adding
just enough cool water to moisten the herb before adding the hot
water. You can expect two full presses from the same maté.
- Fill your press with a 1/2" - 1" of tea (according to your
desired strength). Add enough cool water to moisten
the herb. Steep 30 sec. before
adding hot water. You can expect two full presses.
- Instructions for brewing
coffee with a French Press. I'd recommend ignoring the advice
here about temperature, amount of "coffee" and
Some brands of maté I've tried
- Preparing for use the first time - aka curing
- Nativa advocates using bleach in your gourd if it molds.
- Guayakí thought using bleach in a gourd was a questionable idea.
- Rumor has it you shouldn't use soap in your gourd, probably because
of the gourd's "memory", due to its porousness.
- Hot (maybe boiling) water and sunlight are less controversial
ways of cleaning your gourd if it gets moldy inside.
- What you think is mold may in many cases actually just be stains
from the tea - particularly if the colorations you see are green and
- I have a suspicion that the gourd I bleached was giving me
slight gastrointestinal distress. I haven't noticed this with
my other guampas. However, some weeks later, I can now use
the bleached gourd with no troubles.
- Nativa. I think this one is relatively accessible to the
beginning maté drinker. This one is my favorite for use in a
French Press, and it works out well in a gourd as well. This one
is especially good for digestion I think, and it makes my sweat
- Guayakí. I've had a couple of gourds of this now. It's
got a lot of stems, and tastes fairly good. I find it quite
- La Rubia. This is my current favorite in a gourd, but I don't
really like the way it makes me feel when I put it in a French Press.
It has stems, so it's a little bitter for a beginner.
- That stuff with the cute little burro on it. I got a
gourdful of this from a coworker, Evans. He said it cost $4.99 for 2
a local store. It has stems, but the initial sip wasn't that
bitter. Subsequent sips didn't seem to get as nice and sweet as
Nativa or La Rubia. But perhaps more importantly, this one didn't
give me that gentle, clearheaded, alert feeling that the others
do. It actually left me feeling a little muddy-headed.
- La Esquinia de Las Flores. I've only had two gourds of
this so far. The sensation was nice, the taste was...
Well, I haven't eaten snails in a long time, but it really
reminded me of the taste of an unspiced snail - very different
from the other matés I've tried. I didn't find the
taste as pleasant as Nativa or La Rubia or Guayakí. I recently got
2 Kg of
this, so I'll likely have plenty of opportunity to see if I grow
accustomed to the taste. I may have to mix it with mint or
- Specialteas. I didn't have the foggiest how to properly
prepare maté when I tried this, so I really can't make an informed
comment about it. I recall thinking it was very expensive, as is
most of the maté you get from mainly-camellia sinensis shops that happen
to have maté.
- That gourd I had with my ex-girlfriend's family. I
really wish I'd asked what brand it was. They used a
nonporous guampa, made entirely of some sort of metal. This too,
alas, was before I started to get a modicum of clue about maté, so
I can't say much about how good it was really.
- Davis COOP bulk mate'. It tastes kind of like salt, kind
of like pepper, and not all that much like maté. I got a gourd
of this from a coworker, Richard. He said it was $12/lb. He also
mentioned that when he pressed it once in a French Press, the
color of the brew was very light. He pressed it multiple times,
and was happy with it. I got used to the taste after a number
of gourdfulls, and was quite pleased with how I felt after I
finished off the gourd.
- Taragüi. I've had one gourd. It tastes like maté, but
I'm not sure I liked how I felt when I drank it. This one made me
feel a little trembly. I emptied the gourd before running my
usual amount of water through it.
- Cruz de Malta. A coworker told me his maté-loving friend
prefers this one. I like it pretty well. It comes with
("Elaborado") or without ("Despelado") stems; I only tried a bag
- Canarias. This is good stuff, and the
picture of a duck
that comes inside it is pretty cute. This is probably my second
favorite now, after La Rubia.
- Rosamonte. I've had this twice from a french press now,
but no gourds yet. It worked out nicely. The taste was slightly
"dirty", but I got used to that after the first couple of sips
- Nobleza Gaucha. I'm having my first gourd of this as I
type. It has a fairly strong taste, but it's not bad. More
- La Merced. Good stuff in a gourd. It's a bit less of a
strong taste, so it might be good for a beginner. I find it a
little more stimulating than my favorites though.
Comparing yerba buena to yerba maté - they truly aren't the same
Comparing yerba maté and camellia sinensis
- The original picture used to create the
background for this page - a true gourd guampa with a gaucho-style
- The original picture used to create the
old background for this page - a wooden guampa full of yerba with
bombilla in place.
- Some dry yerba in a ceramic container
- I used to be a confirmed camellia sinensis drinker. For years, I
drank black tea every day. Some time later I switched to green tea
everyday with infrequent black or oolong or pouchong.
- I found that drinking camellia sinensis every day, I would slowly
get more and more tired until my energy levels were getting a bit
low for my comfort. If I'd stop drinking it for a couple of
months, my energy levels would go way up.
- I started drinking yerba maté in the early winter of 2001, and
so far I haven't noticed any tendency to get tired. In fact,
my energy levels have gotten noticably higher, even when I haven't
just been sipping maté.
- I do miss the taste of good lung ching a little, and may
switch to drinking both yerba maté and camellia sinensis at some
point in the future, but for the time being, I'm drinking yerba maté
- With camellia sinensis, I could drink it all day, feel a very mild
lift, and just get a little dehydrated. With yerba maté, if I
have more than one gourd a day, eventually it catches up with me -
my jaw starts to feel funny - quite a bit like the feeling I get
if I've been smiling and laughing too much and my face gets tired
out. In response, I've chosen to have only one
gourd of maté in the morning, and herbals and plain water in the
afternoons. However, that one gourd gives a wonderful sensation -
not drugged up, just alert and clear-headed; there's no murk
between me and my thoughts.