About five years ago, I discovered the tea “yerba mate,” known to me back then as a South American treat. At first taste, the earthy, dirt flavor of the tea wasn’t charming, but I liked bitter so, therefore, I liked yerba mate. As years progressed, I became more and more accustomed to this tea. However, I knew there was something missing… that is, until I came to Argentina.
On the subway in BA, I’d see people holding a thermos and a gourd. On the streets, everyone had a mate gourd. We went to a cafe, and no mate was found. Then I learned that mate was a more personal item. Of course, buying a gourd just wasn’t enough. One needs to learn the nuances and subtleties of mate. That was when our friend Roy from SF came in.
Take it from here, Tio Roy…
Seven Steps to MateStep 1: Heat water but do not boil. It’s best to watch the water and stop it just before it boils. Step 2: Fill the gourd 2/3 with mate. This seems like a lot but that is why most mate gourds are small. Step 3: Dust removal — shake the dust out by flipping the gourd upside down covering the opening with your hand. After you turn the gourd back over, you’ll notice the trail of dust in your hand (repeat as necessary). Step 4: Poor heated water into thermos and gourd. It is important to note that muddy mate should be at the top of the gourd, not water. Step 5: Insert bombilla with thumb plugging the sucking end. This is to prevent the mate from rushing into the straw. Step 6: Drink mate Step 7: Pass mate
The person that makes the mate has all the control of the mate. It is his/her job to pass the mate correctly in the circle. It’s important not to skip the next person, or let someone jump the line in the circle. Also note that it is very important that the only person that touches the bombilla is the mate maker. He/she governs the water, the strength of the mate, the straw, and the overall mate experience.
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