Yerba Mate Shot Made Me Sleepy

Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic Energy Shots

Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic Energy Shots

I Paid: $3.49 for a 2-ounce shot (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

Here's what happened when I purchased two Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic Energy Shots and (for comparison's sake) a two-pack of 5-Hour Energy shots: The grandmotherly checkout clerk at Lunds informed me that I was probably going to have a major medical incident. "No one knows what they put in these things," she said.

And while the clerk's statement may not be supported by any existing medical science, her paranoia comes from a reasonable place: suspicion of any mystery liquid that purports to thwart the natural processes of the human body in order to artificially boost productivity.

Actually, I'm more from the camp that thinks energy shots are just overpriced caffeine.

With those points of view in mind, I tried both traditional 5-Hour Energy and the self-consciously naturally styled alternative Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic Energy Shots.

5-Hour Energy did, in fact, do something. Five minutes after drinking it, I found myself jittery, with excess energy in my arms in particular. Ten minutes in, I was a bit lightheaded and notably more alert than before drinking the stuff. Thirty minutes in, I was still focused, but still jittery. Seventy-five minutes in, my stomach was unsettled. And three hours into the experience, I'd lost focus and gotten sleepy. So: 3-Hour Jitters might be a better name for the stuff, but there's definitely something to it. As for flavor: It tasted like musky, oversweet lemonade.

The Lemon Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic Energy Shot (which contains the caffeinated plant known as yerba mate, goji berries, acerola cherry, and ginger, among other things) tasted rank, vegetal, and pungent with a bit of syrupy lemon to the flavor. Eight minutes after drinking it: nothing. Thirty minutes into it my notes read: "Slightly more awake? Debatable." After that, nothing, and then I felt like taking a nap.

The Chocolate Raspberry version was slightly better from a flavor perspective (sort of like Hershey's meets raspberry jam), but equally unimpressive from a productivity perspective. So, in conclusion, if you've got to do an energy shot, embrace the jitters and go for 5-Hour Energy. Or better yet, have an espresso.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.