ver wonder what health conscious celebrities drink in the morning? While Mark Walhberg reaches for coffee before his 3 a.m. workout, Orlando Bloom, Andrew Huberman, and Kevin Bacon are pouring a different morning brew: Yerba mate.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate—sometimes called mate or mate tea—is a brewed, herbal beverage made from the Ilex paraguariensis plant from South America. The tea is typically made by brewing the dried leaves and twigs and is consumed both hot and cold (1). Redditors say it tastes similar to green tea: bitter and sour.
An 8 ounce cup of yerba mate tea has around 80 milligrams of caffeine, which is comparable to a cup of coffee, according to Kelsey Costa R.D.N. It’s also packed with antioxidant compounds—like xanthines and polyphenols—and gentle stimulants that boast a wide range of health benefits.
About the Expert:
Kelsey Costa, M.S., R.D.N., a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for the E-Health Project.
Benefits of Yerba Mate
Reduced oxidative stress
While research is still ongoing, several studies suggest yerba mate can lower levels of oxidative stress (2). Oxidative stress occurs when your body has an abundance of harmful molecules called free radicals, which can damage cells, contribute to premature aging, and increase chronic disease risk (3).
These antioxidant properties are one reason why Huberman—who recently became the owner of the yerba mate company, Mateina—says that this tea is his preferred source of caffeine during the day.
Most research on yerba mate to date has been done on animals. For example, one 2019 study on cows found that yerba mate lowered their oxidative stress levels, leading to better reproductive health (4). A study done on rats found that yerba mate reduced symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis (5).
In an Instagram post, Bloom said he sips on yerba mate on set to help him feel full between meals, and he may be onto something (6). The tea stimulates the production of GLP-1 (the hormone responsible for controlling your appetite). But yerba mate may have additional weight management benefits.
“Yerba mate may help reduce body weight and abdominal fat by decreasing the number of fat cells and increasing the use of stored fat for energy,” Costa explains.
According to a 2014 study, adults who consumed one gram of yerba mate per day burned 24 percent more fat during their workouts than those who didn’t (7).
SWAP YOUR BREW
If you’re a devoted coffee drinker, you may have noticed that your morning cup of Joe can leave you sluggish and mentally foggy by lunchtime. This is because caffeine has a half-life (the amount of time it takes for its concentrations to reduce by half) of 3 to 5 hours (8).
While a cup of yerba mate has a similar amount of caffeine to a serving of coffee, it also contains certain compounds to help sustain energy and prevent a mid-day crash like theobromine and theophylline.
“These compounds can potentially provide a smoother and gentler stimulatory effect, which may help people avoid the jitters and crashes often associated with coffee,” Costa explains. Coffee contains virtually no theobromine and theophylline (9).
It takes your body longer to break down theobromine and theophylline, so their energizing effects will last even after the caffeine has left your system (10)—which is probably why Bacon says yerba mate is a staple in his “perfect breakfast.”