Whether you are just learning about yerba mate now or have been drinking that stuff for years, one question that commonly arises is: does yerba mate expire?
While yerba mate products will typically have expiration dates on the packaging, it does not necessarily mean that you should throw your yerba mate in the trash if it has expired.
Let's take a look at what you need to know about whether your yerba mate will expire, how to store it so it lasts as long as possible, and much more.
Do Products With Yerba Mate Expire?
When you look at the package of your product, you will likely find an expiration date printed on it. If you purchased it from a brand out of South America, you can typically find the stamp on the side of the bag, though sometimes it will be printed on the top.
The country the yerba mate originated from will determine how long the expiration date is after packaging. For example, in Argentina and Paraguay, it used to be that the date was required to be stamped as two years after packaging. That has been recently changed so that the date has to be stamped as three years after packaging.
However, the dates are simply required by the government and do not necessarily mean that the yerba mate is no longer good to drink.
Whether or not an older yerba mate is still good is going to depend on how you store it. It's recommended that you store yerba mate in a cool and dry place. However, if it is stored in a spot that is too dry, it can become flaky and brittle and some of the more subtle flavors can be lost.
On the other hand, if you store your yerba mate in a place that is too humid, there is a risk that your yerba mate could mold.
When you store yerba mate properly in a cool, dark, and dry location, it's possible that this caffeinated drink will actually improve with age. After several years, you might notice that properly stored yerba mate retains a matte sheen on the leaves and has a yellow hue without being dried out. At this stage, your aged yerba mate will develop additional nuanced and subtle flavors.
How to Tell If Your Yerba Mate Is Stale
There are several essential factors that can help you determine the quality of your yerba mate.
Yerba mate should be an olive green color although the brightness may vary depending on the type of yerba mate. An aged yerba mate can take on more of a yellow hue. The stem you find in your yerba mate should be colored in a range between eggshell white and light tan.
The second factor is how the mate feels. The leaves should be flexible and buoyant. If it crumbles to the touch and is overly dry, they are a bit stale. The leaves should be slightly moist but not wet.
Lastly, you'll want to smell the yerba mate. You will want to notice smells of green vegetables, toasty hay, earthiness, and even a mild sweetness. If you don't smell anything at all, it's possible that your mate has been improperly stored and has gone stale.
On the other hand, if your yerba mate smells musty or moldy, it likely means that it has been stored in an environment that is too humid. If this is the case, it's time to replace your yerba mate. Next time, you'll want to take the care to properly store it so that you can continue to use it over a longer period of time.
As an example, the above image has two containers of yerba mate. On the left is a new Meta Mate 23 package that was vacuum packed and stored safely. On the right, we left the same yerba mate out in the sun for 1 day. It didn't take long for it to go stale.
Proper Storage of Yerba Mate
It is important to start yerba mate correctly so that it can last as long as possible. If you store your mate in a place where it is exposed to too much humidity, you are running the risk of mold growth. You can also dry out if it is exposed to sunlight or conditions that are too dry.
How to Store Yerba Mate
You have a number of options when it comes to storing yerba mate.
You can simply leave your yerba mate in the original packaging that it came in when you purchased it. If you choose this option, you will want to make sure that you seal the opening as well as you possibly can.
If you are storing your yerba mate in its original package, you should keep the bag in a dry, cool, and dark area that will not be exposed to extreme temperature changes. It is best to store your yerba mate at room temperature. Places like a cupboard, shelf, or desk drawer can work well as places to store your mate.
If the mate you have is chimarrao, which is a fresh form of yerba mate, you will need to take more precautions when it comes to storing it. Otherwise, it will all easily lose its bright green vibrancy. Many people store their chimarrao in a Tupperware in the freezer in order to keep it as fresh as possible.
Another option you have is to store your yerba mate in an airtight container. This is probably the best way to start yerba mate, as it can help to keep odors and moisture at bay. This means that there is much less of a chance that your yerba mate will become moldy if you live in a humid environment.
There are many different airtight containers that you can purchase to store your yerba mate. You can also reuse a glass jar so long as you wash it well and dry it well before putting dried leaves into the container.
Once you have poured your yerba mate into your airtight container, you can put the lid on tight and place it in a cool, dry, dark place. When you store yerba mate this way, it can potentially last for several years while not having any reduction in the quality.
Is It Time For You to Refresh Your Yerba Mate Supplies?
Yerba mate is a delicious, refreshing, and energizing drink that can become a delightful part of your morning routine. When you store yerba mate correctly, you can enjoy the same batch for potentially for years.
One of the joys of thinking yerba mate is doing so in the traditional fashion. At Matero, we provide yerba mate kids that have everything you need to get started drinking mate right away. Take a look at our selection of yerba mate kits here!