Beginner’s guide to yerba mate
Welcome to our beginner’s guide to yerba mate! Once discovered as a gift of the gods by South American native tribes, since then mate has made its way around the world, acquiring a well-deserved a reputation of a super-drink.
Made from the leaves of a holly plant that grows only in subtropical regions of South America, yerba mate has been said to offer “the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate,” all in one cup. If you are already hooked and want to find out more about this incredible drink, keep reading!
How do you get started? All you need to prepare a tasty and energizing beverage is a handful of dried yerba mate leaves, a gourd or a French press and some hot water. There is more to the ritual, of course, but you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the drink and reap its benefits. The world of mate is intricate and exciting, and learning about its history, traditions and different types of yerba will certainly enrich your experience and deepen your relationship with the drink.
Types of Yerba Mate
Yerba mate comes in a wide variety of colors, cuts, strengths and flavors. There is no better way to find what fits you best than trying them for yourself. Since yerba only grows in subtropical areas of South America, four main countries-producers are Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil.
Argentinean yerba is often recommended as an introduction to the world of mate. It is famous for its diversity and wide selection of flavors, ranging from quite robust to sweet and mild ones. It also is the easiest one to prepare due to a higher content of bigger leaves and stems. Some of the most popular yerba mate brands come from Argentina, including Rosamonte, Taragui and Amanda, among many others. Another type of mate well suited for beginners is yerba from Paraguay. It differs from Argentinean mate in a slightly finer cut and a bolder, more complex and intriguing taste.
It is important to know that no two brands are the same; they might have similar flavors, but they will never taste exactly alike. Our recommendation is to diversify – don’t just stick to one region or country but try as many flavors as you can to train your palette and find what fits you best!
Yerba Mate Accessories
Now, for an authentic mate experience you will also need a few special tools: a gourd, a special mate cup with a wide base and narrow opening, and a bombilla, a drinking straw with a filtered end to keep out any small bits of leaves and stems left from the brewing process. These days mate gourds come in a variety of materials, including stainless steel, wood, ceramics or even silicone. The traditional ones (calabash gourds), however, come from a dried, hollowed out squash plant. While providing the most authentic experience, they also require the most care and are prone to cracking and growing mold.
Now that you have your yerba mate and a perfect gourd, the last thing you need is a bombilla. There are two main things to consider when choosing one. First of all, the material, and stainless steel is usually the best option. Another one is size – your bombilla should fit the gourd and be easy to use.
That’s all you need to know to begin the journey into the world of yerba mate. Click here if you would like to know more about the historical roots of the drink and its rituals and traditions in South America. And here you will find a guide to making a perfect cup of mate!