Many of the common drinks that have become a part of life for people all over the world actually contain dangerous and damaging levels of toxins.

Here is one article which gives some information on the toxins that can be found in common soft drinks.

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Image by ANOXLOU via Flickr

Unhealthy foods and drinks can, admittedly, become addictive. Whether we are speaking about chips, or colas, or processed cheese, we can all agree that the unnatural can become the usual.

However I have found that there are many non-toxic (and healthy) cold and hot beverages which can become similarly addictive.

One of my favorite natural drinks is Yerba Mate tea. I fell in love with this about 10 years ago in Argentina and it never really wore off. This drink is  very popular and widespread in South American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.

Yerba mate is prepared in a mate gourd, and there are no tea bags involved (by the way, tea bags themselves are often quite toxic, having been bleached or treated). The loose tea is simply poured into the gourd and topped with hot water (and milk and sugar if you want). It is very strong, and does contain caffeine, but it also contains nutrients which seem to even replace food to a degree. And it contains much less caffein than coffee while being a very good coffee substitute for many people. It is definitely an acquired taste. Yerba Mate also contains other ingredients which benefit health and help people wake up or stay alert.

Here is a very short video which will show you what Yerba Mate looks like:

As you can see in this video, there is a metal straw inside the Mate Gourd. This straw is called a “bombilla.” It has a filter at the end, which prevents the tea leaves from entering the straw while you drink.

The following video demonstrates one method of preparing Yerba Mate tea:

The following video gives some more background information on yerba mate and its health benefits:

There is a side-benefit to owning a Yerba Mate gourd and bombilla. While I don’t know if South Americans would approve, I use it to drink all kinds of loose leaf teas so that I don’t have to fuss with filters or other paraphanalia. Long ago I grew tired of constantly digging out tea filters from my cupboard and then having to wash and dry them afterwards (by the way, tea leaves are known for being the best drain-cloggers around). My Yerba Mate Gourd is beautiful, it sits on my shelf like an ornament, and when I want to drink some loose-leaf tea I simply pour it in and cover it with hot water.

If you are looking for yerba mate tea I suggest you check your local health-food store (the big kind). Or you can order it (along with a mate gourd and bombilla) online. Here are a couple of sources you can check for different options:

Yerba Mate on Shopzilla

Mate Gourd on Shopzilla

And, in case you’re still in the mood, here’s one more video about Yerba Mate preparation: