Kombucha and yerba mate are both very unique health focused drinks, that when combined can be really beneficial for your health. Unfortunately, you can’t find yerba mate kombucha in stores, so if you want some you’re going to have to make it yourself.
The good news is that making yerba mate kombucha is super easy and I'm going to show you how to do it.
At the bottom of this article is a recipe that’s going to help you make awesome yerba mate kombucha. But first let’s talk about exactly what yerba mate kombucha is and why you may want to drink it.
What is Kombucha
Kombucha is a probiotic drink made from fermented tea that has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
Why you Should Drink Kombucha
There are many reasons drinking kombucha is a good idea, but probably the biggest one is that it is full of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.
Probiotics are found in a lot of other fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and some cheeses.
Your body, especially your gut, is filled with good and bad bacteria. And it’s believed that the modern diet which is so full of sugar and processed foods harms the good bacteria in our gut, leading to digestive problems, diarrhea, and infections such as candida.
Fermented foods that contain probiotics like kombucha replace and replenish these beneficial bacteria, possibly causing:
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba Mate is a South American tea drink that is said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the "joy" of chocolate.
Traditionally, yerba mate is drunken out of a gourd or “mate.” The original gourds were small cups or balls made of hollowed out squash, but today's gourds are usually made of metal or wood. Traditionally, one gourd is shared among a group that's drinking from it and is passed from person to person in a ritual of friendship and hospitality.
Yerba mate tastes very similar to an earthy, bittersweet green tea. But with 85 mg of caffeine per cup (just a little less than a cup of coffee) it provides you with significantly more energy.
Health Benefits of Yerba Mate
According to Healthline.com, yerba mate is rich in antioxidants, nutrients and can boost energy and improve mental focus. It also may:
Protect against infections
Cause weight loss
Boost the immune system
Lower risk of heart disease
Lower blood sugar
And enhance athletic performance
Now imagine adding all these health benefits on top of those already in kombucha by combining the two drinks. Exciting right!
Where you Can Get Yerba Mate
I was surprised at how cheaply and easily I could get a pound of loose leaf, organic, South American yerba mate tea from Amazon. This stuff tastes great by itself, but even better when used to make kombucha. You can find it on Amazon here.
How to Make Yerba Mate Kombucha
Yerba mate kombucha is made the same way that normal kombucha is made, but the black, green, oolong, or white tea that is normally used is replaced by yerba mate tea. Using yerba mate tea will change the taste of our kombucha, the health benefits we get from it, and increase the caffeine content.
If you’ve never made kombucha before, it's important that before I get into the recipe you get an understanding of the overall process of how kombucha is made.
All kombucha begins as sweet tea, or in this case, sweet yerba mate. What turns this sweetened yerba mate into sweet and sour, probiotic filled kombucha is a living culture of bacteria. This culture of bacteria, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is added to the sweet tea and eats the sugar and caffeine from it to produce alcohol, acids, and carbon dioxide.
Once it has eaten enough sugar to make the kombucha bitter tasting, the SCOBY is removed and the process known as 1st fermentation is complete. At this point the kombucha can be drunk, but it's not yet carbonated or flavored.
The carbonation and flavor is added in a second fermentation. During this stage, the kombucha is sealed in glass fermenting bottles that are filled with fruit, juice, or herbs for flavoring. Over the course of a few days, the kombucha develops carbonation and flavor. It’s then refrigerated and ready to be drunk by people like you and me!
What You Need to Make Yerba Mate Kombucha
Before you get to brewing. It’s important that you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients. You’ll need all of the following to make a healthy and tasty yerba mate kombucha:
If you don’t have some of the equipment or ingredients above yet, you can just click on the item to view my favorite one on Amazon.
You also can check out the article I wrote on The Top 5 Things You Need to Start Brewing Kombucha to learn more about each ingredient or piece of equipment.
And, if you want to make more or less than a gallon of kombucha, I wrote an article on kombucha ingredient ratios that will help you easily adjust the amount of ingredients you need depending on how much kombucha you want to make. You can check out that article here.
Once you have everything you need, it’s time to get brewing!
Yerba Mate Kombucha Recipe (1 Gallon)
1 Gallon of Distilled Water 2 Tablespoons of Yerba Mate Loose Leaf Tea
1 Cup of Sugar 1 Cup of Starter Tea
1. Brew Sweet Yerba Mate
Bring a few cups of water to just under a boil. Then remove the water from the heat and stir in 1 cup of sugar until its dissolved.
Next seep 2 tablespoons of loose leaf yerba mate tea with a strainer for 30 minutes.
Set aside the sweet tea to cool.
Grab 2 cups of starter tea from a previous kombucha brew.
If you’re making a gallon of yerba mate kombucha, just use the instructions above.
If you want to make 2 gallons of yerba mate kombucha, just multiply the amount of sugar, yerba mate tea, and starter tea by two.
If you’re using an irregularly shaped container, or don’t want to brew your yerba mate kombucha to the gallon, you can use the numbers below.
To make 1 cup of yerba mate kombucha you need:
0.0625 Cups of Sugar
0.375 Teaspoons of Loose Leaf Yerba Mate Tea
0.125 Cups of Starter Tea
Just multiply these numbers by the # of cups of yerba mate kombucha you want to make and you'll have the right amount of each ingredient.
Although a cup of sugar per gallon of kombucha seems like a lot, remember that this sugar is food for our SCOBY. In the end, most of this sugar will be eaten and converted into acids and gases, and the finished kombucha will only have 2-6g of sugar per 8 ounces..
2. Add SCOBY and Starter Tea
Next we are going to add the sweetened yerba mate to our brewing vessel and fill up whatever space remains with water. You can use cold water to help the tea cool down faster.
Once the tea has cooled down to room temperature, add in the SCOBY and starter tea.
Starter tea is 1 cup of kombucha from a previous brew which will kick off the acidity of a new brew. If this is your first time brewing kombucha and you bought your SCOBY online, it will come packaged in starter tea.
If you've brewed before and didn't save any starter tea from a previous batch you can use a store bought bottle of unflavored kombucha or a splash of distilled white vinegar to give the brew its initial acidity.
It’s important to wait until the tea has cooled down to room temp to add the SCOBY because liquid that’s too hot or too cold can shock it.
3. 1st Fermentation
After the sweetened yerba mate, SCOBY, starter tea, and water have all been combined in the brewing vessel, cover the top of the container with cloth or an old tea shirt and secure it with a rubber band. This will keep fruit flies and other bugs out.
Do not seal the jar with a lid or anything airtight, since we need oxygenated air to be able to flow in and out of the container to keep the SCOBY alive and functioning.
Wait 7-10 days for the SCOBY to ferment the sugar and nutrients in the tea into alcohol and healthy acids. Remember that the longer the brew ferments, the more sugar will be eaten and the more bitter it will taste.
Taste test the brew every day with the goal of reaching that perfect sweet spot between sweet and sour. Once it has reached a bitter enough taste for your liking, the first fermentation is complete.
4. 2nd Fermentation
We technically now have yerba mate kombucha, but it’s not yet carbonated.
First save 2 cups of kombucha as starter tea for future brews.
Then transfer the rest of the yerba mate booch, probably via funnel, from the large container into all the glass brewing bottles.
These bottles will now sit at room temperature for 4-6 days.
During this time you can make some more sweet yerba mate and start a new brew of kombucha if you want. Then ideally, by the time you’re done drinking the brew your making right now, the next batch will be just finishing.
5. Refrigerate and Drink Up
After the 4-6 days have passed, refrigerate the unopened bottles of yerba mate booch. The cold air in the refrigerator will slow down the fermentation process and calm the carbonation, decreasing the likelihood of an explosion when you open them.
If when you open the bottles there isn't enough carbonation, you can place them back at room temperature for a few days and they’ll resume the fermentation process and develop more carbonation.
After the bottles have been chilled, it's time to drink up! Congrats on making your very own yerba mate kombucha! Enjoy!
Making your own yerba mate kombucha is a really great way to get different (maybe even better) health benefits, more caffeine, and a unique taste out of your kombucha.
I think long time yerba mate lovers will love the taste that kombucha adds to this classic drink. But I also think that if you're a long time booch brewer who hasn't tried yerba mate before, you should give it a shot by itself. Who knows, you may end up liking it so much you add it to your next kombucha brew.
If you want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and even how to brew it yourself, check out the rest of my website!