Five Common Yerba Mate Mistakes
An ancient ritual with a long history and tradition, the process of preparing yerba mate has a few important rules. Ignoring those rules can completely ruin your mate experience. Instead of a drink that is flavorful, smooth and complex you will get a cup of undrinkable, extremely strong and bitter infusion. To help you avoid it, we put together a list of five most common mistakes novice drinkers make when first starting out. Read to find out if you are one of them!
Not curing your calabash gourd (and not cleaning it properly)
First thing to remember: if you have a natural calabash gourd, you need to cure it before first use! Calabash gourds are made from a dried and hollowed out squash plant, so it is necessary to clear out the loose tissue on the inside – and curing does exactly that. If you don’t cure your gourd well, the mate you prepare in it will by very bitter, even if all other steps are done correctly.
It is also important to clean and store your calabash gourd properly after every use. Get rid of all yerba leaves, wipe it with a paper towel and store in a dry, sunny place. These simple steps will prevent mold from growing inside and make sure your gourd serves you for years!
Using boiling water
Another classic mistake every beginner tends to make is using boiling water to prepare mate. After all, that’s how we brew coffee and tea, why is yerba mate different? Well, the answer is that every infused drink has its own optimal water temperature to extract the most flavor. Using boiling water with yerba mate, you will inevitably get a bitter, flavorless and over infused drink that is very far from what properly brewed mate can be.
Experience shows that the best water temperature for yerba mate is anywhere between 68 and 80℃. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can just boil the water and let it sit to cool down for about 5-10 minutes – that should give you the perfect mate brewing temperature.
Infusing your mate for too long
Another guaranteed way to end up with an undrinkable, bitter and foul infusion is steeping your yerba for too long. No matter whether brewed in a French press or a gourd, the herb takes only a few minutes to extract the flavors (usually from 3 to 5, depending on the water temperature). Of course, the timing also depends on the type of yerba you’re using, which is why we always recommend to try several different brewing times and temperatures to figure out what works best for your type of mate. But remember – never longer than 5 minutes!
Moving your bombilla
You have your gourdful of yerba seeping in warm water, bombilla is in place and your mate is ready. All you need to do now is avoid the temptation of moving the bombilla! This filtered straw is there to make sure no small particles of yerba get through. By fiddling with the bombilla you risk blocking the filter and not being able to take a sip. Remember: once you place the bombilla, don’t move it! Besides, in Argentina and Uruguay touching the bombilla after it was inserted by the cebador (server of mate) is a huge sign of disrespect.
Browse our wide selection of bombillas to find the perfect one for your type of yerba!
Leaving used yerba in the gourd
No matter how lazy you’re feeling after finishing the gourd, never leave used yerba leaves inside without properly cleaning and drying it! This will almost certainly lead to mold growth, and you will have to throw out your gourd. After finishing your mate, immediately dump all leaves out and make sure no particles are left inside, not even a tiny speck.
Hopefully, you learned a few helpful tips and will now use them to improve your drinking experience – enjoy! If you’re looking for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to brew delicious yerba, click here to read our article.