Yerba Mate May Be Key To Argentina's World Cup Success

We all have little drinks and pick-me-ups to help us get ahead, and despite their world-class athleticism, and the international superstardom of players like Lionel Messi, Argentina's World Cup team is no different. For most people in the U.S., their drink of choice is coffee, which the National Coffee Association says is consumed by 66% of Americans each day. But for other people, both in this country and around the world, that drink is tea. In fact, Pew reports that worldwide, there are three cups of tea consumed for every one cup of coffee. But for a lot of residents of South America, the caffeinated treat that helps get them through the day is something you don't see as much outside of its home region: an herbal drink called yerba mate.

According to Food & Wine, yerba mate tastes like tea, but is made from the leaves of a different plant indigenous to South America. It has a powerful, bitter taste and about the same amount of caffeine as coffee. It's one of the most popular drinks in countries like Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, where it's consumed both socially and by commuters on the go, similar to coffee. It is beloved enough, and hard enough to find abroad, that World Cup teams from South America transported it with them to Qatar, per New York Times.

Argentina brought 1,100 pounds of yerba mate to the World Cup

You may think you're obsessed with coffee, but have you ever carried half of a ton with you when you travel? As the New York Times reports, that is exactly what Argentina's World Cup team did in Qatar this year. Uruguay may have also impressed by bringing 530 pounds of yerba mate with them, but no other team compares to the Argentinians, who carried a massive 1,100 pounds of the mixture halfway across the world. The yerba mate love runs so deep that the team drinks it in the locker room before and during games. It must be doing something for them too, because Argentina is on their way to the World Cup finals, per CNN, setting up a caffeine showdown between them and the coffee-loving French.

Yerba mate's appeal extends beyond just hydration and caffeine, especially for a tight-knit team in a foreign country. Players admit there is a strong social and bonding element to sharing the drink, with midfielder Alexis Mac Allister saying: "I drink it more than anything to bring us together." Yerba mate really is more than a drink in Argentina, and brewing and consuming it often involves a strong ritual component that includes passing it around your group, per Matear

Argentina's love for yerba mate shows how emotionally satisfying a simple drink routine can be, and hey, it might just help you become world champions of the most popular sport on the planet, too.