Guayakí Yerba Mate - A Powerful Rainforest Experience
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NY TIMES - Thursday, Aug 17, 06
Fashion & Style
Gear Test With Lisa Sher, Mountain Biker
A Cupful Puts Wings on Wheels
By SARAH BOWEN SHEA
Published: August 17, 2006
The latest buzz among endurance athletes isn’t from caffeinated energy gels, but from a South American tea called yerba maté — maté for short. Cyclists and distance runners claim that imbibing maté before a workout gives them long-lasting energy, though no studies have proved it’s good for the long haul.
Yerba maté gets its pep from caffeine. But it also contains theobromine, the stimulant in dark chocolate, and theophylline, tea’s pick-me-up. “Because caffeine isn’t the sole stimulant,” said Timothy Ferriss, a neuroscientist who has studied the effects of natural stimulants on athletic performance, “maté drinkers don’t experience the rapid upward trajectory and then the quick crash of coffee.”
Our tester, Lisa Sher, a mountain biker who won the 2002 United States National Downhill Championship, drank each maté product before riding for 90 to 120 minutes. None of the products were “miracle workers,” she said. But with two that actually gave her the best buzz — Guayaki and Eco Teas — she felt “a constant steady energy level” and didn’t experience the gut churning that some coffee-drinking athletes experience.
ECO TEAS ORGANIC YERBA MATÉ $8.39 for one pound, www .yerbamatecom. Ms. Sher prepared these loose dried leaves in a gourd and drank the tea through a metal filter-straw as is done in Argentina. Its “potent” kick stayed with her for a couple of hours. The gourd was “a process” but a tea ball works just as well. Ms. Sher enjoyed its “earthy, woodsy flavor.”
PIXIE MATÉ CHAI LATTE $4.50 for 32 ounces, www.pixiemate.com. In a 1-to-1 ratio mixed with water or unflavored soy milk, Ms. Sher found this concentrate “too sweet” for a preworkout pickme- up and its aftertaste was bitter. The biggest problem: she had to drink too much to get an adequate boost. “I felt a little bogged down,” Ms. Sher said.
GUAYAKI YERBA MATÉ DRINK $2.29 for 16 ounces, www.guayaki .com. These ready-todrink bottles were the “most convenient,” Ms. Sher said. Of the products tested, it also gave her “the biggest energy boost,” and she added “the sustained energy was amazing.” She also appreciated that the mint flavor she tried was “not overly sweet.”
WISDOM YERBA MATÉ ROYALE $8.99 for 2.82 ounces, www .buywisdom.com. Ms. Sher found this powder “very convenient and easy to use,” but its taste was too “bitter.” The buzz was “sustained — just not very big,” equivalent to “a cup of black tea.” As with all the maté, Ms. Sher drank extra water to compensate for its diuretic effect.
TRADITIONAL MEDICINALS GINGER YERBA MATÉ $4.79 for 16 tea bags, www .traditionalmedicinals .com. At first, Ms. Sher thought this maté tasted “a bit like medicine.” But steeped longer and with more water, it was “sharp, somewhat spicy.” Using two tea bags to make a preride brew, Ms. Sher got “a little boost” but a “less dramatic” one than the maté from the Eco Teas or Guayaki provided.