Coca-Cola might be the official drink sponsor of the World Cup, but yerba mate appears to be the drink of choice of many of the players competing in Russia.
If you watch the teams in Russia, whether it be at the press conference, hotel or arriving to the stadium, you will likely see players drinking yerba mate.
Edinson Cavani, who scored two goals in Uruguay’s Round of 16 win over Portugal even took to twitter celebrating mate in April.
Edinson Cavani on every Uruguayan's first love:
"For us, it's more than just tea. Maté is like a friend." pic.twitter.com/PXWaPdssRQ
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) April 20, 2018
What is yerba mate?
Yerba mate is an herb native to South America and is used to make the mate drink which is especially popular in three of the 2018 World Cup counties – Argentina, Uruguay and parts of Brazil. In addition, coaches and players from these countries have been spreading it around the world with their club teams.
Locally in Sonoma County, Guayaki Yerba Mate, which is based in Sebastopol’s Barlow District, offers a variety of yerba mate products, including bottled cold drinks, cans, energy shots, traditional-style gourds, tea bags, and loose leaf. I’m sure most people will recognize their products which are quite popular in the area.
Additional information from the Guayaki Yerba Mate website
Brewed from the naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the species of holly native to the South American Atlantic rainforest (Ilex paraguariensis), it contains 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, abundant polyphenols. Remarkably, the Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society concluded in 1964 that “it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value” and that yerba mate contains “practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.”
Watch BBC’s video with Argentine Pablo Zabaleta as he explains Yerba Mate in soccer.