Yerba Maté 一 your friend this exam season

It’s in the name…kind of. Simply put, yerba maté is the mate every university student needs during exam season. It’s unique makeup of caffeine and herbal goodness is there for you through the late night study sessions, early morning lectures, and exam season.

If we’re talking SWOTVAC, count this highly-caffeinated brew among your strengths! Yerba maté is a herbal tisane that’s indigenous to South America. Taken from the holly tree, this popular brew is very unique in that it’s the only herbal tea to contain caffeine. 

Among being a great substitute for coffee, yerba maté has many health benefits that can help uni students as they prepare for exams. Since we’re all about our university sippers receiving a good education, our tea-loving experts have broken down everything you need to know about yerba maté. That’s including how to brew it at home!

A clean buzz

What makes it so different to a standard coffee buzz, you ask? Referred to as a “clean buzz”, maté offers the tired uni student a better sense of focus and alertness. Furthermore, unlike coffee, the tea still allows for a restful sleep (more on that later). 

How the brew produces these unique stimulating effects is part of a wider debate. However, the bulk of the studies suggest that it has to do with the ratio of theobromine to caffeine

Also found in cacao, theobromine is an alkaloid that exerts similar effects to caffeine. However, it does not affect the body through central nervous system stimulation. Specifically, caffeine does not actually give the perceived boost most people think it does. In fact, it just blocks the receptors that tell you you’re tired. 

On the other hand, theobromine works as a vasodilator. This means it relaxes muscle tissue and dilates blood vessels, allowing nutrients like oxygen to move more freely around the body. This may explain why maté can also help with nervous headaches. In turn, nervous headaches often go hand-in-hand with fatigue, muscle tension, and spasms.

Lower heart and health risks

Remember how theobromine is a “vasodilator” as opposed to a “vasoconstrictor” (narrowing blood vessels) like caffeine? This also means that sipping yerba maté is great for one’s circulation! 

In allowing for better circulation and greater oxygen in the blood, this brew is thought to help with cardiovascular health as well as lowering blood pressure. Given you’ll be spending most of SWOTVAC studying at a desk, it’s very important that students are taking care of their circulation when there’s scant time for exercise.

Furthermore, this powerhouse tea also contains antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and caffeoyl derivatives. While research remains inconclusive in this area, it is thought that such compounds reduce cholesterol levels in humans. This further supports your heart health!

A restful sleep (if you want…)


A common adage is “sleep, good grades, and a social life…as a uni student, you only get to have two”. At The Tea Centre, we say hogwash! Wash that nonsense out of your brain with a good cup of yerba maté instead.

The ratios of theobromine to caffeine means that the former’s most negative effects一like being unable to sleep一are overridden. As a result, maté contains a fairly harmonious combination. Most interestingly, however, maté is thought to assist with lucid dreaming.

While it should be noted that there are no studies to support this, many personal anecdotes have been shared about how sipping this brew just before bedtime has resulted in either lucid or very vivid dreaming. 

Even if it doesn’t work, at least experimenting with yerba maté is a nice distraction from the stress of exams. Furthermore, you will still end up well rested!

How to brew Yerba Maté

As a traditional drink to South American countries like Argentina, Bolivia, central and southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Southern Chile, maté is normally drunk from a decorative, cured gourd using a metal or stainless steel spoon-like straw called a bombilla. However, you can prepare maté as you would a standard cup of tea, simply by steeping in a teapot or infuser.

Brew it hot:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of yerba maté to your infuser or straight into your mug/gourd (if you’re using a bombilla) and run a little cold water over the leaves.
  2. Boil water and allow it to cool for 1 minute before pouring it on top of the leaves. This will deter your leaves from scalding and becoming bitter. 
  3. Brew the mix for about 4 minutes, then remove the infuser if you used ones. If you’re planning on having another yerba maté during the day you can place your leaves in the fridge and reuse up to 3–4 more times throughout the day.

Brew it cold:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of yerba maté per 250ml of cold water and leave the brew covered overnight in the refrigerator.  To make removing the leaves later an easier process, you can steep the leaves using our filter bags or tea socks.
  2. In the morning, you’ll either need to strain the leaves from the brew or remove the tea bags/socks.
  3. It’s now ready to drink! You can also add a teaspoon of honey or some juice to taste (orange, pineapple, lemon or lime go well with this brew).


Ready to brew yerba maté at home? At the moment, you can add a bombilla straw to your maté purchase to receive 10% off your tea! 

Simply use the coupon YERBA10 at checkout to redeem this saving. Coupon expires September 15.

2 thoughts on “Yerba Maté 一 your friend this exam season

    • Jacqui Pon says:

      Hi Lyn, that’s a good question! Our yerba mate has a distinctive astringency and grassiness that may take some getting used to. Once you pass that stage, however, you’ll start to taste the more pleasant flavours. There are smoky notes and hints of nuttiness, although most fans simply like the natural taste of the herb itself! Hope that answers your question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *