A species of holly, it is the well known as the source of the beverage called mate after the gourd it is traditionally drunk from. It is native to subtropical South America in northeastern Argentina, Bolivia, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Mate contains caffeine and other chemicals which stimulate the brain, heart, muscles lining blood vessels, and other parts of the body. It is notable for its ability to provide energy without the jitteriness suffered by coffee imbibers.
The occasional tea made by steeping the dried leaves and twigs of the mate plant in hot water (not boiling water, which can make the tea bitter) will boost you with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and vitamin C. Its taste has been compared to that of green tea but with a more herbaceous, grassy character. True yerba mate lovers prefer using the traditional gourd for the better and more natural taste and because you can get more nutrients from the herb using a straw or bombilla. Enjoyed hot or iced it can also be mixed with fruit juices for an energising punch.