Brazilians don’t drink much tea unless they get sick. But their consumption of mate – a caffeinated tea drink – is very high.
Mate is very popular in South of Brazil and is native to other South American countries such as Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Even present Pope Francis was caught sipping mate.
In southern regions of Brazil mate is sold in enormous quantities. Brazilians buy mate from tea bags to loose leaves to soft drinks at supermarkets and fast food chains. One of the main food chains is called Rei do Mate (‘king of mate’) where you can also get a delicious snack like coxinha (fried chicken meat in crispy dough) or pão de queijo (a small cheese roll).
Mate is consumed either hot or cold but in a tropical weather like Brazil’s cold mate is a preferred drink taken anywhere – in cafes, to go or on the beach. Often this tea is sweetened or mixed with juice, e.g. lime or passion fruit. There are plenty of variations of flavored mate to refresh, many sold as a soft drink. Also, it is common to prepare mate at home and leave it to refrigerate over night.
Mate is extracted from yerba mate plant in Brazil and contains a high amount of caffeine. This helps to boost your levels of energy and focus. In addition, its antioxidants (90% more antioxidants than in green tea!) bring plenty of health benefits: detoxifying, reducing stress, insomnia and stomach bacteria, aiding fat and cholesterol to move through, to name a few.
I’ve tried iced mate on the beach in Rio de Janeiro and in some local cafes. It’s a great refreshing drink, an alternative to many soft drinks.