Recently, the hubby and I had dinner with a couple he knows from work. During the course of the evening, to my husband’s chagrin, we managed to have a great discussion about tea. It was then that I learned about Yerba Mate, the drink of Argentina. I never cease to be amazed by the universal nature of tea – regardless of the country, culture, or tea plants native to the country there is always a ceremonial tea drink.
About a week later, Mike brought home from work a huge baggy full of Yerba Mate, a traditional drinking gourd (cuia), and bombilla (a straw with a strainer on the end). Additionally, included in my care package was a postcard published by Chronicle Books summarizing Mate origins, the Mate ceremony and Mate Preparation instructions. Imagine my excitement.
Composition: Simply Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) a shrub native to South America.
Dry Visual: Very very green. Yerba Mate reminds me of crushed dried leaves or alternatively dried oregano.
Dry Aroma: Purely vegetal with a slight hint of sweetness.
Flavor: On its face, everything about Yerba Mate is simplistic – the composition, aroma, visual appearance. Everything that is, but the flavor. Yerba Mate has a surprisingly robust flavor that I am floundering to adequately describe. After preparing the Yerba Mate in the the traditional gourd, I must admit, I found this indigenous South American drink to be very vegetal and quite bitter. After adding a teaspoon of sugar, the Yerba Mate was palatable. During the second infusion, the bitterness began to subside. During the second through eighth infusions, the Yerba Mate was truly delicious only requiring minimal amounts of sugar thereafter. According to the brewing instructions, I could have brewed seven to twelve more times. I only stopped because I felt “tea-logged”.
Liquor: A bright green unlike any other tea I have ever seen.
Special Note: Mate is the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil where it is consumed 6 to 1 over coffee. With 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, numerous antioxidants and naturally occurring caffeine, Yerba Mate is considered natures most balanced stimulant (Jansdotter, 2004).
Yesterday after drinking another seven or eight gourds full of Yerba Mate, I am in need of more. Last night I placed an order for several new teas, including Yerba Mate, from Dragonwater. I cannot wait to compare to the Yerba Mate I have recently been drinking. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!