A friend suggested that I try yerba mate tea to boost my energy. What is yerba mate?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Yerba mate is an herbal tea. This tea, commonly known simply as mate, is popular in parts of South America. The leaves and twigs of the yerba mate plant are dried, typically over a fire, and steeped in hot water to make an herbal tea. Yerba mate may be served cold or hot. Like black tea, yerba mate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant.

In the U.S., yerba mate is widely available in health food stores and online. People who recommend yerba mate say that it can relieve fatigue, aid in weight loss, ease depression, and help treat headaches and various other conditions. There's limited evidence that yerba mate may help with some of these conditions.

Yerba mate isn't likely to pose a risk for healthy adults who occasionally drink it. However, some studies indicate that people who drink large amounts of yerba mate over long periods may be at increased risk of some types of cancer, such as cancer of the mouth, throat and lungs. Drinking very hot yerba mate — 149 F (65 C) or hotter — is associated with a higher risk of cancer than is drinking yerba mate at cooler temperatures.

One possible explanation is that yerba mate contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to cause cancer. Tobacco smoke and grilled meat also contain PAHs. More investigation needs to be done into the safety and side effects of yerba mate.

If yerba mate is your cup of tea, enjoy it in moderation. But, as always, check with your doctor before trying any herbal product.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

March 06, 2021 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. 3 diet changes women over 50 should make right now
  2. 3 key changes in the new Nutrition Facts label
  3. Acai berries
  4. Added sugar
  5. Alcohol use
  6. Alkaline water
  7. Are energy drinks bull?
  8. Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes
  9. Autism spectrum disorder and digestive symptoms
  10. Bad food habits at work? Get back on track in 5 steps
  11. Best oil for cooking?
  12. Dietary guidelines
  13. Breastfeeding nutrition: Tips for moms
  14. Caffeine: How much is too much?
  15. Is caffeine dehydrating?
  16. Calorie calculator
  17. Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?
  18. Carbohydrates
  19. Chart of high-fiber foods
  20. Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers
  21. Coconut water: Is it super hydrating?
  22. Coffee and health
  23. Diet soda: How much is too much?
  24. Dietary fats
  25. Dietary fiber
  26. Prickly pear cactus
  27. Does soy really affect breast cancer risk?
  28. Don't get tricked by these 3 heart-health myths
  29. Don't go cuckoo for coconut water
  30. Eat more of these key nutrients
  31. Eggs: Bad for cholesterol?
  32. Fiber: Soluble or insoluble?
  33. Fish and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  34. Fit more fiber into your diet
  35. Get to know the new Nutrition Facts label
  36. Grape juice health benefits
  37. Healthy-eating tip: Don't forget fiber
  38. Hidden sources of sodium
  39. High-fructose corn syrup
  40. High-protein diets
  41. How to track saturated fat
  42. Takeout containers
  43. Is there more to hydration than water?
  44. Juicing is no substitute for whole foods
  45. Juicing
  46. Limit bad fats, one step at a time
  47. Make food labels required reading
  48. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  49. MUFAs
  50. Need a snack? Go nuts!
  51. Need more fiber? Take 3 steps
  52. Nutrition rules that will fuel your workout
  53. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  54. Omega-3 in fish
  55. Omega-6 fatty acids
  56. Phenylalanine
  57. Play it safe when taking food to a loved one in the hospital
  58. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  59. Health foods
  60. Portion control
  61. Planning healthy meals
  62. High-fiber diet
  63. Sodium
  64. Step away from the saltshaker
  65. Stevia
  66. Taurine in energy drinks
  67. Time to cut back on caffeine?
  68. Trans fat
  69. Underweight: Add pounds healthfully
  70. Want a healthier dinnertime? Science says change your eating space
  71. Daily water requirement
  72. Functional foods
  73. What's considered moderate alcohol use?
  74. What's the difference between juicing and blending?
  75. Working out? Remember to drink up