Yerba Mate - More Social than a Coffee Date
Even though the Far Eastern cultures of China and Japan may have created some of the most elaborate tea ceremonies in the world, we think that the South American preparation of yerba mate comes in at a close second. Tea is a social drink, to be sure, but the gauchos of mate-drinking regions take it to a whole new level. Check it out below!
Like a lot of other confusions and misunderstandings in the world of tea, the name yerba mate is technically incorrect. Yerba refers to “a herb”, but the yerba mate plant is actually a tree, much like the tea plant. However, the name has stuck. Yerba mate contains caffeine and other compounds very similar to tea; generally cultivated yerba mate leaves contain about twice as much caffeine as tea leaves, but only half that of coffee beans. Leaves are picked and dried, and then coarsely ground up in preparation for brewing.
The brewing and serving of the mate beverage is where the really interesting part happens. The yerba mate is measured into a traditional drinking gourd, and the contents are gently shaken so that the finer material moves to the top. This prevents smaller material from clogging up the bombilla, which is a combination metal drinking straw and filter through which the mate is sipped. With the gourd held at an angle, a bit of water is poured into moisten the yerba mate at the bottom of the gourd and allowed to sit for a minute or two. Then, the bombilla is inserted into the gourd, and the gourd is filled with hot water (about 150-180 degrees Fahrenheit, definitely not boiling!). The drink is now ready!
Mate with your mates
But what about the social aspect? Mate, as the prepared drink is known, is usually shared with a circle of friends. When the mate liquid has been fully consumed by one person, hot water is simply added to the gourd and passed to the next person. It’s an extremely personal and satisfying ritual.
In addition to being a wonderful social drink, yerba mate also contains many of the same anti-oxidative effects as tea, as well as having a notable effect on lowering LDL cholesterol levels. It’s also full of beneficial vitamins and other minerals, but above all, it’s a nice little drink that gives you a nice mid-day boost — especially when shared with your friends!