The Maté Factor located in the Ithaca Commons has been serving up delicious sandwiches, smoothies and homemade energy bars since it first opened its doors. But the real customer draw stems from its production and usage of yerba maté, a tea native to South America.
As of now the Maté Factor is the only café in upstate New York to produce and serve homemade yerba maté products. Co-owners Zahar Hazday and Andrew Peter hope to show everyone just how versatile and healthy this drink is.
Originating from a holly plant in many South American countries, yerba maté is growing in popularity as it has been commercialized and sold in various places throughout North America.
This plant-based tea has significantly surpassed all of the common health-benefits and antioxidants recognized in its cousin, green tea. Yerba maté is comparable to green tea on steroids, or like drinking multiple cups of coffee, but without the jitters or headache inducing side effects.
Co-owner of the Maté Factor, Zahar Hazday, said he fell in love with the yerba maté plant while in Brazil and immediately wanted to open a café representing the South American culture surrounding this famous drink.
The Maté Factor Café offers a variety of yerba maté drinks including the popular “Maté Latte,” yerba maté smoothies, and iced yerba maté tea. The café even serves the drink in a traditional manner, from a handmade hollowed gourd complete with a metal straw.
Yerba maté comes in many different forms, but the owners at the Maté Factor prefer to work with the tea finely grinded from which they then produce all of their own products.
“The components of Yerba maté are all within the xanthine alkaloid family, which has a unique caffeine alternative property, referred to as mateine. After you drink maté you will notice a drastic difference between drinking this tea compared to a caffeinated beverage,” said Hazday.
Co-owner of the Maté Factor, Andrew Peter, found his interest in this tea when he had to stop consuming coffee. “Many people either do not like the taste of coffee, or sometimes it can cause them headaches or stomachaches. But the uniqueness of the yerba maté plants acts as an excellence coffee alternative to those caffeine intolerant,” said Peter.
At the Maté factor the loose tea is not aged in order to preserve the nutritional value and fresh flavor of the herb. The yerba maté is also dry rubbed and produced using a smoke free process, which saves the natural flavor as opposed to other establishments whose maté produces a somewhat smoky flavor. All of the techniques used to preserve and keep this precious herb new and flavorful are recognized in the customer’s satisfaction of the Maté Factor’s products.
“I was never a big tea drinker and I usually relied on coffee to keep me going. But one day I tried a ‘Maté Latte’ and not only did I enjoy the taste of the yerba maté tea but I honestly felt better drinking it then when I consumed coffee,” said Maté Factor customer Andie Louer.
The reason behind the appeal of yerba maté, other than the rich flavors of the herb, is the scientifically backed health benefits of this drink.
Yerba maté contains a very high level of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Levels six times higher than green tea. A long kept immune boosting and weight loss secret of South Americans, yerba maté has now made its way into mainstream consumer products.
“The uniqueness of yerba maté is something in which we can all appreciate. It is not too often we stumble upon a completely natural product possessing highly sought after heath and energizing properties,” said Hazday.