Posts Tagged ‘caffeine’

Written on July 28, 2021.

From kickstarting the day to pushing through a tough workout, caffeine is a regular part of our diets; in fact, we consume over 100,000 metric tons of it worldwide each year! While it might seem obvious, most of that caffeine comes from drinks–and we are lucky to enjoy more caffeinated beverage options than ever before.

Despite being around for generations, one caffeinated drink in particular has recently been making its way into the spotlight. If you aren’t already familiar with yerba mate, then you’re sure to be hearing more about it soon. Discover the origins behind this ancient superfood, why it’s so unique, and how innovative beverage brands are using it to change what the world is drinking:

Yerba Mate’s Origins

Yerba mate is made from the leaves and twigs of the Ilex paraguariensis plant, a member of the holly family. Native to the subtropical regions of South America, this herbal remedy has been enjoyed by indigenous cultures like the Guaraní for over a millennium.

With the discovery of the New World in 1492, Spanish colonizers in the Parana-Paraguay system learned of the plant and the native’s practice of consuming it. Unlike cacao and coffee, yerba mate was not a domestic plant when first encountered by Europeans; instead, it was harvested traditionally from wild stands.

In an attempt to cultivate the resource, Jesuit missionaries built up plantations in the 1650s-70s. Agricultural efforts were difficult, though they helped to establish a commercial market for yerba mate throughout the rest of the Spanish Americas. Of course, yerba mate wouldn’t make it to Europe until much later, as the continent was already too focused on crops like tea, cacao, and coffee.

By the 1770s, the drink had become largely a niche product and staple of South America where it eventually became a chief export of Paraguay and surrounding countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. It remained the preferred caffeinated beverage of the region even after coffee and tea were introduced.


Drinking Yerba Mate

Consumed at all hours of the day, yerba mate continues its reign as a South American favorite prepared and enjoyed the traditional way–among friends and family.

Yerba mate is drunk from a single hollowed out gourd called a “calabash” or “mate.” This vessel comes in all kinds of shapes and styles, and utilizes another instrument called a “bombilla”–essentially a thick, curved straw with a filter at one end. Any authentic yerba mate requires these tools for proper preparation.

First, a kettle of water is heated–but not boiled! While the water is being arranged, the mate or calabash is filled about two-thirds of the way with “yerba” (the herb). Covering the opening of the gourd, it is shaken gently to bring all the larger leaves and stems to the bottom of the container so as not to clog the bombilla later.

The vessel remains tilted to keep all the herbs to one side, then the bombilla is inserted into the mate, still held at an angle. A little cold water should be added to prevent dust from gathering in the bombilla and prepare the yerba for the infusion, preserving any nutrients that might be neutralized by the addition of hot water.

Finally, hot water (less than 150-degrees Fahrenheit) can be added–but not filled to the top! Now it is ready to drink. This is where the ritual part of this process comes in. The same vessel can be refilled nearly 20 times and is meant to be shared. Here are some best practices to follow, courtesy of Francisco Huanaco of Buenos Aires, Argentina:

  • The person preparing the yerba mate is known as the “cebador/a” and should be the only person who pours fresh water between tastings.
  • The cebador/a should drink the first yerba mate poured.
  • The cebador/a should try to avoid dampening all of the leaves with each pour or the drink will lose its flavor too quickly–this is called “lavado.” It is considered disrespectful to pass someone a “mate lavado.” Always pour near the bombilla for the best result.
  • If you are offered the yerba mate, you must drink all of the liquid inside and then pass the vessel once again to the cebador/a. Always return the mate to the cebador/a!
  • It is okay to add sugar for some extra flavor, but gauge the preferences of your group before doing so. A yerba mate without sugar added is called “amargo,” meaning bitter.
  • When you are finished, rinse out the calabash and bombilla with water only, dry with a cloth, and let rest upside down to ensure no water is left inside to mold.


From Ancient Drinking Ritual To Trendy Beverage Ingredient

With a bitter, smokey, and woody flavor, yerba mate has a very distinctive taste that, like coffee, can require adjusting to–but the real draw for consumers is the caffeine. That’s right, there’s a reason why some have referred to the drink as a “productivity hack.”

Boasting an allegedly jitter-free buzz, yerba mate contains about 80mg of caffeine per cup. This amount has been described as a happy medium for consumers looking for a boost, as it contains twice as much caffeine as in black tea, but less than half that of a cup of coffee. You could even call it the Goldilocks of caffeinated beverages!

As a bonus, the beverage is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as beneficial plant compounds like quercetin, theobromine and theophylline. Components of this superfood have been known to reduce risk of cancer and heart disease, decrease the accumulation of fat in the body, and improve blood flow. The health benefits abound.

It helps that the qualities of yerba mate are supported by trends favoring experiential, naturally positioned beverages that deliver on both functionality and flavor. This is a driving force behind why yerba mate has become a beverage favorite in recent months–and beverage developers are finding creative ways to innovate with it. As an energy booster, weight loss supplement, focus aid, and source of digestive support, there are many reasons why beverage developers are exploring the utility of yerba mate as a beverage ingredient.

Dozens of brands have popped up on the shelf and some US consumers have even taken to brewing it up the traditional way at home, as yerba mate leaves are made available at grocery stores across the nation. In recent years, yerba mate has made its way into everything from health elixirs to “clean and natural” energy drinks, even alcoholic seltzer. In May 2021, Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea portfolio rolled out a line of organic yerba mate beverages in three flavors–lemon ginger black tea, strawberry pomegranate matcha, and peach mango green tea.

It’s clear that what was once a niche beverage has officially entered the mainstream. As consumers become more educated about yerba mate, new products containing this special ingredient are sure to emerge. Yours could be next.

Do you have an idea for the next tasty, caffeinated drink? Flavorman can help you make it a reality! Get started by filling out this form or giving us a call at (502) 273-5214.


Related Content

The World’s Favorite Drink: Green & Black Tea

Caffeine Drinks: How Do They Work?

Kombucha: What Is It?

How Do Energy Drinks Give You Energy?

Written on March 17, 2021.

Whether you’re a hardworking college student, busy professional, or just someone looking for an edge, nootropic beverages offer an attractive promise–a brain boost.

As consumers continue to demand more functionality from their favorite drinks, brands are taking note. Driven by health trends prioritizing all aspects wellness–including mood, cognitive performance, and mental health–brands are exploring creative beverage solutions with benefits that extend beyond those important to physical fitness.

While still a fairly new category, nootropic beverages are emerging as an exciting frontier in the functional beverage realm–and one that is expected to reach more than $7 billion in value by 2025. But what exactly are nootropics? Here’s what you need to know:

Nootropics: What Are They?

While you may have only just started paying attention to the term recently, as a class of ingredients, nootropics are not new–in fact, the term was coined by Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea, who in 1972 used it as a “catch-all” to describe brain productivity enhancers.

Today we understand nootropics in much the same way; as substances thought to be linked to improved performance. Nootropic ingredients are used to enhance focus and memory, boost energy, and even elevate mood. Historically, nootropics have been primarily utilized in the development of drugs and health supplements, not beverages–but that seems to be changing.

Nootropics & The Beverage Industry

It’s important to note that some nootropic ingredients are already well-known and widely adopted in the beverage space–and have been for years! L-theanine, for example, is a compound naturally derived from tea that improves retention, recall, relaxation, and mood. Or perhaps you’ll recognize caffeine and its nootropic effects–focus and alertness–more immediately.

Of course, other nootropic ingredients have been slower to trickle into the sector and they’re why consumers have taken notice of the category, overall. Medicinal mushrooms (like reishi, chaga, and Lion’s Mane) are great illustrations of emerging ingredients that are making their way into a variety of drinks, thanks to a variety of adaptogens and antioxidants providing a powerhouse of cognitive and mental wellness benefits.

Building from the “Functional Plus” trend, a growing subculture of consumers have been experimenting with combinations of different nootropic ingredients–called “stacks”–which are believed to deliver a variety of benefits when paired. Supported by consumers’ continued interest in custom beverages and personalized nutrition, this may signal an opportunity for producers to create specialized blends of nootropic drinks that cater to this emerging market.

Developing a Nootropic Beverage

As the functional sector of the beverage industry continues rapid-fire growth, nootropics are being added to beverages of all kinds. From chocolate milk “elixirs” supporting immunity and “balance” to energy drinks designed to promote focus and alertness without the jittery side effects–the possibilities are endless, though not seamless. Here’s what we mean:

Whenever functional claims are involved, the regulatory landscape can be a challenge to navigate. If you’re interested in bringing your own nootropic drink to market, you’ll need to make sure it is formulated for success and labeled appropriately.

“Beverages cannot make health claims, so the marketing language you might use on a so-called ‘nootropic beverage’ is pretty limited,” says Flavorman’s Director Beverage Architect, Kristen Wemer. “Many of the claims associated with nootropics can be construed as health or structure-function claims, which we would advise against putting on a beverage.”

Of course, you can still make a beverage with ingredients that imply or are known by consumers to offer nootropic benefits–that’s often how brands accomplish this without making claims.

A beverage you might drink to relax could include lavender, passionflower, GABA, and lemon balm. Each of these ingredients are GRAS and allowed in a beverage, and you can highlight that the beverage contains them with hopes that a consumer will understand what they’re in there for–but the more explicit you get about the potential functionality of those ingredients, the higher risk there is that it will be construed as a health or structure-function claim.

As brands continue to pack their drinks full of functional ingredients, beverage builders have their work cut out for them to ensure these beverages can also achieve a desired mouthfeel and flavor profile while delivering on anticipated benefits.

“The functional beverage category has become increasingly complex over the last several years,” says Wemer. “Beverage developers are being asked to formulate drinks loaded with beneficial ingredients, each of which come with their own set of formulation challenges.”

“At Flavorman, we custom create our clients’ beverages, including each flavor that goes into their drink,” says Flavorman’s Chief Flavorist, Tom Gibson. “As a flavorist, I work alongside the beverage development team to create flavors that taste great while being compatible with trending ingredients.”

Our experts can formulate your nootropic beverage with flavors that emphasize the presence of any functional ingredients, while ensuring the integrity of the drink’s quality. And while our expertise is specialized in beverage development, our team boasts the resources, services, and industry connections you’ll need to make your nootropic beverage idea a success. From start through finish®, that’s the Flavorman promise.

If you’re going to launch a beverage brand, make sure you do it right the first time. When you’re ready to talk about your idea for a breakthrough nootropic beverage, give us a call at (502) 273-5214 or get started by telling us your story here.

To learn more about how Flavorman can help you change what the world is drinking, see our process.



3 Functional Beverage Trends to Watch

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Develop Your Beverage

Why CBD Beverages Are The Next Functional Beverage Trend

What Are Probiotic Drinks

20201 Flavor Trends

Written on October 21, 2020.

Combining coffee and alcohol isn’t new– Irish coffee, White Russians, espresso martinis, and other cocktails dripping in coffee liqueur have long laid the groundwork for the innovation we’re experiencing today. Craft brewers have also played a significant role, using coffee beans to create roasted, nutty, and chocolatey flavors in porters and stouts. Ready-to-drink (RTD) hard coffee is just the next evolutionary take on the pairing.

Written on September 30, 2020.

From morning routine to afternoon pick-me-up, coffee has always been a beverage staple. Now, as Americans juggle an onslaught of COVID-related stresses– like heightened family responsibilities and economic uncertainty, to name a few– coffee trends suggest that our favorite caffeinated beverage seems to have taken on an even larger role.

Written on July 15, 2020.

The alarm goes off in the morning. Maybe you don’t remember what day it is, but one thing is for sure — you need caffeine. For most of us, this requires a drink. The options for your morning pick-me-up are endless — so what are you supposed to choose on your way out the door?

Written on August 7, 2019.

It might be the first thing you reach for on Monday morning or it may be your pre-workout hydration of choice. Yep, today we’re talking about energy drinks.

As the name suggests, this category of functional beverages offers consumers a boost of “energy,” increasing their attentiveness and stamina in a few charged sips. Whether its studying for a difficult mid-term exam, sweating it up at the gym, or simply staying awake at your desk, energy drinks have justifyingly become an important part of many people’s busy lives.

Written on April 14, 2014.

For an energy boost to get them through the day, consumers often turn to beverages, including water, coffee and energy drinks, according to Red Bull’s August 2013 “Getting Energized on the Job” infographic. Ingredients in energy beverages, in particular, can help consumers boost concentration and battle workplace fatigue, it states. “Almost every consumer is seeking an energy boost in their daily drink intake due to busy lifestyles,” says Catherine Barry, director of marketing for the National Honey Board, Firestone, Colo. “Consumers are seeking a more nutritious day-to-day way to combat fatigue.” Now the industry is turning toward drink ingredients that promote natural energy.