Yerba Mate Tea
Countries,  Montevideo,  Recipe,  Uruguay

Enjoy The Ritual of Making and Drinking Yerba Mate Tea: Recipe and Video

I had the pleasure of my first Yerba Mate Tea experience in Montevideo, Uruguay. I use the word “experience” because enjoying Mate is just as much about the ritual as it is the tea. We were on a bike tour of Montevideo when our guide stopped us and approached a person with some kind of gourd in his hand. Quiet conversation and then we were all invited into their conversation.

WHAT IS MATE TEA AND WHAT IS THE RITUAL?

The act of drinking the Mate tea with others is called “Tomando Mate”. Originating in South America, the sharing of the Yerba Mate Tea is a symbol of welcome, friendship, bonding, and hospitality. Yerba mate is a type of herbal tea that is made from a combination of the leaves and twigs from the Ilex paraguariensis plant.

PREPARING:

To begin the ceremony you need only the Calabash (gourd) and Bombilla(metal filtered straw). Typically, the gourd has a large opening and is made from wood, metal, or even ceramic.

THE CEREMONY OF DRINKING MATE:

In the traditional ceremonies, Yerba Mate is prepared in a small gourd. It is then passed around and is drank through a silver filtered straw, known as a Bombilla. The filter at the bottom of the Bombilla keeps pieces of the yerba herb from getting lodged in the straw. Before being passed, the tea is always sampled by the host. You are expected to drink all the tea in the gourd and then refill it with hot water before passing it counter-clockwise to the next person.

THE RITUAL AND PROPER ETIQUETTE OF DRINKING MATE TEA:

Once you have taken your turn and refilled the gourd, you pass it counter-clockwise with the straw facing towards the person. Your receiver is not allowed to touch the Bombilla so as not to disturb the herbal mate. The person who has received the gourd drinks first then says thank you. Saying thank you indicates that you have finished, so if the person drinking wants more, they refill the gourd with the hot water, drink again and then thank the person who passed the gourd.

ARE THERE HEALTH BENEFITS TO YERBA MATE TEA?

You Betcha!

  1. Chock full of antioxidants (reportedly, more than green tea), it also contains various vitamins and minerals. Cell and animal studies also report that Yerba mate might prevent heart disease.
  2. Unlike most herbal teas, Yerba does contain caffeine and will give you that amazing jolt of energy (assisting in mental focus and alertness)!
  3. An interesting twist to the ritual is adding chocolate which has the potential to release endorphins in the brain giving the participant a feeling of happiness and less stress.
  4. There are studies that show that Yerba mate may help prevent infections from bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
  5. Animal studies show that yerba mate may help with weight loss by reducing appetite and boosting metabolism.
  6. Yerba mate contains saponins, which naturally possess anti-inflammatory properties. (not proven on humans)
  7. Yerba mate may help lower blood sugar and reduce the complications of diabetes.

The Yerba Mate can be a bit bitter so often people often serve it with burnt or regular sugar, lemon juice, or milk. As mentioned above, it can also be served with chocolate.

Although usually served hot, Yerba Mate can also be served cold, especially in hot weather.

HOW EXACTLY DO YOU MAKE YERBA MATE TEA?:

Steps

  1. Fill the gourd with Yerba mate until about 2/3 full.
  2. Covering the top of the gourd, tilt it to one side so that the yerba mate moves to one side of the gourd.
  3. Lay the Bombilla (filter side down) over the yerba mate, preserving the gap.
  4. Pour a small amount of cold water into the crater that you’ve made inside the gourd. Keep the gourd tilted until the water has been absorbed by the Yerba Mate leaves.
  5. Now add your hot water into the reservoir. It should be no more than 150 degrees F- never use boiling water. Fill it to the top.
  6. The gourd can be refilled with hot water 15-20 times using the same Yerba Mate leaves.

POSSIBLE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF YERBA MATE TEA:

Caffeine can be a powerful stimulant so it’s important to note that Yerba Mate Tea does contain caffeine- less than a cup of coffee but more than a cup of tea. Caffeine is linked to cancer and has interactions with some medications. Persons taking MAOI drugs should consult with their physician before consuming Yerba Mate Tea. The bottom line is that Mate Tea might not be suitable for everyone. If you have any doubts about its safety, it is advisable to consult with your physician before participating in the ceremony and consumption of Yerba Mate Tea. 

Until next time, friends, remember: “To Travel is to Live!”

 

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