January 14, 2019
Traditional beverage originating from South America that is not quite tea nor herbal concoction.
A beginner’s guide to mate!
Consumed for centuries in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, mate is an important part of South American culture. It is an infusion with a frank and herbaceous taste which has a sustained bitterness that can be surprising. It is said that yerba mate fights fatigue and contributes to an overall better mood. The infusion is obtained from a tropical plant and is enjoyed like tea without being one. If mate is not tea, what is it then? It is not uncommon to see people sipping mate in a small gourd with a straw.Today, we will demystify this traditional ritualistic preparation for you.
Daily adoption of mate
The utilised plant is named Yerba Mate (ilex paraguariensis); a tropical plant of the holly family growing in the woodlands of South America. The leaves are dried, crushed and then infused in hot water.
Tea lovers can find in the Yerba Mate similarities, in terms of taste, to certain green teas and can even mirror the energizing effect of black tea. The infusion is therefore a satisfying alternative to tea and coffee, as a daily stimulating consumption. Its fortifying effect on the nervous system is due to the plant’s caffeinated composition.
Are you the easily distracted type? Loads of reading or work waiting for you this evening? A comforting cup of mate can help fight drowsiness, promote concentration, and increase cognitive abilities.
Feeling irritated or low-spirited? Mate, being rich in caffeine, can help you get back on your feet by acting as a stimulant on the central nervous system.
Similarly to green tea, yerba mate contains vitamins and minerals, amino acids and polyphenols (antioxidant effect). Another valuable reason to love mate!
How to prepare mate ?
Choice of the traditional technique or the tea infusion. Both these techniques allow you to benefit from the healthful effects of yerba mate!
Calabaza and bombilla
We recommend the traditional preparation technique, a proper ritual, for lovers of mate with assumed embittering. A large quantity of leaves are prepared in a small amount of water. Keep in mind that with this technique the caffeine concentration will be higher.
Two accessories are required: a bombilla (straw) and a calabaza (gourd). No filter or infuser basket required. The calabaza (a drained and dried squash) serves as a container, or cup. The mate leaves are placed at the bottom; the infusion is drawn through a metal straw (the bombilla). There are small holes at the bottom of the straw preventing the leaves from passing through.
Step by step :
Calabaza and bombilla maintenance
Once the infusion is finished, empty the contents of the calabaza quickly. Rinse with warm water. Do not use soap. Dry the calabaza with a cloth, then lay it upside down for a moment so that the excess water is properly drained. Allow the calabaza to completely air dry before storing to avoid any remaining moisture. Most bombilla models unscrew as a means of cleaning the filter part of the straw.Rinse well with hot water. If necessary, baking soda can be used to scrub and unclog the small holes..
Classic teapot infusion
To become familiar with mate or if you do not have a calabaza and bombilla, it is possible to make a classic teapot infusion.Thus, we benefit moderately from the stimulating and tonic virtues of mate since the infusion concentration will have decreased. Also, using this method, it is easier to get accustomed to the plant’s fresh vegetal notes and sustained embittering.We suggest infusing 2 tbsp. of mate in 500 ml of hot water (70 à 85º Celsius).
Other ways of enjoying mate
Mate can also serve as an excellent starting point for scented mix creations. For those fond of comforting mixtures or citrus fusions our Cold Warmer herbal concoction is a must-have! Constituting a mate base accompanied with citrus fruits, ginger, balsam fir, and lemon balm this creation is gentle enough for the respiratory tract and invigorating, making it the perfect year-round beverage and cold-stopper!
A short history
The first to consume mate were the Paraguay natives who customarily masticated the leaves. The Guarani (Amerindian population of the Amazonian regions) infused mate into a dug and dried gourd. Old bombilla models, like a sugar cane stalk, were sometimes used to sip the infusion. Today, we predominantly use the easily maintained metal bombilla.
The term mate is borrowed from Quechua matí (vase, glass) designating the calabaza in which the yerba mate is consumed. Sometimes the plant is referred to as "Jesuit tea" because the Jesuit missionaries from Spain first developed the mate plant culture and spread it to neighboring Paraguayan countries.
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