Guayaki Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is a highly caffeinated tea that seems like the type of thing that would be popular in parts of South America or maybe Nepal. Guayaki is marketing it here as a tea-slash-energy drink. The ingredients don’t list any of the ADHD-causing additives normally associated with energy drinks, so that seems to be just a marketing angle, rather than a bold new paradigm shift.

As you know from dealing with me offline, I’m normally a pretty spazzy fellow, so in order to conduct a proper scientific study of yerba mate’s alleged energy drink prowess I purposefully made myself extra tired by staying up late watching Newsradio DVDs. I’ve got this whole thesis I’m working on which details the similarities between Matthew Brock and Buster Bluth. Watch the episode where Matthew drops the pen down his pants before he can hand it to James Caan: tell me those facial expressions and physical mannerisms aren’t complete Buster. Or watch the Halloween party episode and compare Matthew’s motorcycle enthusiast/gay biker situation to the Army uniform Gob puts together for Buster. I think the writers of Arrested Development spent a lot of time around WNYX, that’s all I’m saying. Anyways. I can just put this in a email.

So the next morning I was all set for the experiment. I cracked open the bottle and was greeted with the scent of tea and freshly-cut grass. The scent of health. Taste-wise, it was interesting. It’s clearly not like regular tea: the flavor had a harsh edge to it, but fortunately the mint and cane sugar tempered it nicely.

I wish I could end the review there. Knock off early, get a beer. Maybe watch some more Newsradio. (I’m also putting together a list of Lisa Miller’s top 10 cutest moments (#4: Her lunge across the conference table when Matthew warns Dave to keep his woman from mouthing off).) But I can’t do that, because this is where my experience with yerba mate took a turn for the worse. The horribly worse. This is the first drink I’ve ever had that actually scared me. Well, second, if you count Clamato. You should read the rest of this review like you’re Stone Phillips, if you weren’t already. Daniel Schorr also works.

One thing I should have remembered before I drank this is that I’ve had some weird reactions to non-standard stimulants in the past. Taurine and spirulina are some that come to mind. Right when I was halfway through my yerba, my head started feeling very light and dizzy. And then I felt tingly all over my arms and torso. And then my heart was beating double-time, and my carotid artery was threatening to do an Alien baby thing with my neck. Awsum, totally extreme!

It was just a teensy bit terrifying and I stopped drinking right away. But it was cleary too late, and I was all uncontrollably nervous and jittery and wondering if maybe I was going to have a heart attack, or maybe I already had, and this is what that was? And would I have to go home early, or to the hospital, or would I simply pass out at my desk? (Discovered by my coworkers, I groggily confess to having been felled by some tea.) And the jitteriness just would not go away. It was actually pretty un-fun, and I kept on feeling that way. And I kept feeling that way, and I kept feeling that way. All told it was three solid hours before I felt like things were about back to normal.

But I guess it works! So if I lack the moxie and constitution for large doses of caffeine, at least I’ve still got what it takes to conduct some serious science, which is its own sort of manliness. OK not really.

7 thoughts on “Guayaki Yerba Mate”

  1. Yerba Mate actually contains what is called “mateine” in the same family of caffeine but chemically they are not identical. People generally use it as a caffeine substitute because it isnt addicting, nor is it suppose to cause jitters that are related to caffeine use, and has been proven to reduce caffeine addiction.
    I drink pure Mate regularly (sweetened with only Stevia which is how it’s traditionally taken) especially during fasts, and I’ve never (nor have my friends who use it) had what you just experienced by using it. Perhaps you may have an allergy or intolerance for mateine or it must have been the mixture of glucose and mateine. You might react differently otherwise.

  2. I lived in Italy during that summer heat wave in 2003 that killed about half the continent over there. I drank pitchers of iced yerba mate with mint sprigs and slices of little-known-to-the-Americas fruit daily. I don’t know if it was the heat wave or the tea. I died.

  3. Mateine is claimed to be a stereoisomer of caffeine. Caffeine cannot have a stereoisomer, it is impossible. It is a myth perpetuated by the Mate’ industry and almost all docuentation leads to a single non-peer-reviewed study. Mate contains caffeine and a lot of it. It also has lots of other great things in it that account for the different bodily reactions in people. No need to mysify this or engage in magical thinking. It is a great stimulant for some people, for others it is terrible. It has lots of vitamins and minerals and anti-oxidants, that is a good thing but it is caffeine and it IS addictive. And it MIGHT be good for you anyway.

  4. I tried this stuff and I’m surprised you didn’t mention the aftertaste, which I can only describe as funky in the old-school sense of body funk.
    It wasn’t unpleasant, though. It was like smelling the sweat of someone you don’t mind smelling the sweat of.

  5. I found the comments written about this tea very interesting.
    I am generally VERY stimulant sensitive and just cannot tolerate any.
    I took a all natural cold medication with a decongestant once and was unable to sleep for 3 nights, that sensitive.
    I find this tea to be awesome.
    It does stimulate me in a positive, alert and energetic kind of way.
    I have done lots of chores I had put off for years.
    I feel good and clear minded, not tweaked out of my gourd.
    An extra benifit is it makes me not hungry so I don’t eat between meals.
    I’ve lost a few pounds drinking a bottle a day.
    The taste is unusual but is actually enjoyable after a few times drinking it.
    My sister says it tastes like cigarette butts smell, I don’t know if I’d go that far.
    It’s very good and enjoyable ice cold.
    I have had a positive experience and LOVE it!
    It’s my secret weapon for weight loss and energy, and it’s good for me.
    How did that song go? I want a new drug.
    Yes, thats the one!!

  6. I’ve been drinking Mate for the last 10 years and have never had the negative effects I had with caffeine. The reviewer “Rich” who stated that it does “contain caffeine, and lots of it” is inaccurate and might want to re-research their facts. Mate/ mateine is NOTHING similar to caffeine except in that it is also a stimulant, but a natural one. It does have a plethora of anti-oxidants and is noted by the AMA (American Medical Assoc.) as a positive drink in aiding the relief of many blood related disturbances. It is a mild diuretic and an excellent source (as already mentioned) to provide mental clarity. It is also known (scientifically tested and proven) to be the perfect transition for those addicted to caffeine and is noted as a method for getting off caffeine addiction and onto a more healthy drink in lieu of 2 cups (plus) of coffee daily, and is healthier than green tea.
    Also, to the owner of this blog- it is appreciated you realized your reaction and sensitivity to situations with other stimulants. Everyone is different of course, I have drunk this for many years will drink it for many years- I am not dead.

  7. Yerba Mate Fan, you are incorrect and are contributing to the misinformation going on around about mate.
    Mate contains caffeine. The same caffeine that is in coffee or tea. It is often billed as “mateine” but mateine is the same thing as caffeine. Some people purport that mateine is a stereoisomer of caffeine but caffeine has no stereoisomers. A quick Google search for mateine yields a lot of results that confirm this and only a couple that deny it, but most chemical dictionaries clearly state that mateine IS caffeine.
    It is true that drinking mate does not have a lot of the negative effects of coffee or tea drinking, but this has far more to do with other chemicals present in the mate. People who have been instructed not to drink caffeine due to high blood pressure or other reasons should still not drink mate.

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