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.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez

Uruguayan team at their hotel

Edinson Cavani, who scored two goals in Uruguay’s Round of 16 win over Portugal even took to twitter celebrating mate in April.

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.

Griezmann, who is French but plays in Spain picked it up from South American teammates

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.  

My personal favorites are the unsweetened bottles, either the hibiscus lime or the traditional.
According the Guayaki’s website, Yerba mate has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate, all in one beverage. Of the six commonly used stimulants in the world: coffee, tea, kola, cocoa, and guarana, yerba mate triumphs as the most balanced and healthful while it stimulates.

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.


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