Yerba Mate: Centuries of Conversation and Stimulation May 09 2014
Very popular as a conversational drink in Latin countries for centuries, yerba mate, or mate (ma-tay), is a tea made from the young leaves and tender shoots of Ilex paraguensis, an evergreen tree in the Holly family.
Traditionally consumed from curiously shaped hollowed out gourds with a special metal straw, a bombilla, the brew and is very popular with all ages in Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and other Spanish speaking countries and is a reason for getting together with friends. Traditionally the group of people partaking in the mate while seated in a circle, would pass the gourd, also called a mate, around returning it to the brewer, the one who brought the mate, for it to be refilled with hot water when the mate runs dry.
It is also consumed at breakfast, throughout the day and for afternoon tea, often accompanied by sweet pastries. It is also prepared as a cold drink combined with fruit juice and also as a soda.
As for the stimulating effects of yerba mate, yerba being ‘herb’, and why it doesn’t have the potentially jittery effects of typical more caffeinated teas and coffees, is because of the xanthines (zan-theens) in yerba mate. Caffeine, a xanthine itself, is present in the mate but it is also accompanied by two other xanthines of which this combination actually delivers a soothing effect on soft muscle tissues and a slight stimulating to myocardial (heart) tissue. So, there you have it, the perk without the jerk.
The cultivation of yerba mate is an important industry especially in Brazil and Paraguay, and the brew itself initially of ancient Native American origin, is and has quickly gained in popularity in the United States and other parts of the world.
What Exactly Is Chamomile? May 08 2014
Chamomile is the name given to a variety of plants in the Aster family. A European herb, Anthemis Nobilis, the English or "Roman" chamomile has an applelike aroma and the tea for which it’s named is made from the dried flower heads of this plant.
It is commonly used to assist in sleep as chamomile has anxiolytic properties that are calming and can aid in overall relaxation. Chamomile does not contain caffeine.
Chamomile is also used in skin cosmetics as an emollient and for its anti-inflammatory effects. Though a beneficial herb because of the calming effects it has, pregnant women should not have chamomile, according to the National Institute of Health because it might cause uterine contractions unnecessarily.
Relax with this infusion on a rainy day and enjoy a good book.