Mate is a treasure of argentinian culture. It is not only a drink, it is above all a ritual and a reason to meet with friends. Argentinians do not need more reasons or excuses to meet up for a chat than mate.
During my travels to Argentina I got really curious about that little decorated container. I saw people walking with mate and flasks around the city, on a bus, in parks picnicking. I knew it is very popular to drink yerba mate amongst Argentinians, but what I did not realize was the fact that it is not just a drink, it is a whole ritual. Mate is a big deal!
Mate demolishes borders and unites people!
During my last trip to Argentina I learned how prepare mate. Of course I did not avoid committing a crime of preparing this drink the wrong way. In one of the hotels we were staying mate was offered during breakfast. It was my chance to try it so I quickly decided to go for it. I wanted to be so smart, grabbed the mate, put the leaves and water and mixed it together. How difficult it can be, right? I wanted to hide myself under the table when I got the angry looks from the locals when they saw me stirring the drink with bombilla. It was sign that I need to stop immediately and get a proper tutorial from the local. Luckily enough I know lovely locals to ask the favour. Gaston not only kindly agreed to give me a mate lesson, but he also is an expert and a big lover of that drink. I could not imagine a better teacher and I got the best experience possible.
With the first sip I fell in love with this hot beverage. I really like the taste of mate and as I am cold even in summer, hot drinks are usually my favourites.
Here is what I have learnt about mate and its preparation
Yerba Mate has the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage.
Yerba mate is made from the naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree. It contains many vitamins, amino acids and minerals. A gourd is made of a pumpkin shell and bombilla is a filter straw.
Drinking mate is a symbol of hospitality. The gourd is passed from person to person, which unites a group of friends and makes connections. Each person drinks the entire liquid, then the host refills the gourd and passes it to the next person.
The most important thing about mate I have learnt though is that it has to be shared.
Preparing mate step by step
According to Gaston, doxycycline online pharmacy yerba mate can be prepared in many ways, but there is some rules to follow, but first of all this is what you will need:
Heat the water, but do not boil. The water temperature for mate should be around 85 degrees Celsius. Heated water pour into a flask to keep the temperature. In Argentina I have seen this smart kettles that have an option set up to heat water to a temperature especially for mate.
Fill half or 2/3 of the gourd with dry yerba mate.
Cover the gourd with the palm of your hand and gently shake it so the herbs are on one side.
Insert the filtered end of bombilla into the gourd on the empty side of the cup. Then gently pour the hot water into the guard just below the level of the herbs.
And drink it until there is no more liquid. Then the guard is refilled with water again and passed to another person. One important thing about drinking mate is not to move the bombilla.
For one portion (one guard of mate) it usually is used 1 liter of water.
Citationfrom “The Mate” by Mónica G.Hoss de le Comte
“When people gather to drink mate (mah-tay) something magical happens. It is a simple, daily custom and yet it has all the characteristics of a ceremony. Like any ceremony it has rites which are carefully performed in the same way, day after day. It is a moment of leisure with friends and family. In the country, the gauchos sit together around the fogón (the campfire), sipping their mate after a long day’s work. Tiredness breeds silence and silently the mate gourd circles from hand to hand. And then, slowly, conversation starts, people come closer together, confidences are exchanged. The mate ceremony resembles the American rite of the calumet, the pipe of peace. There too, the pipe goes from hand to hand, completing the circle, offering hospitality and goodwill. Mate is drunk by everybody: it is a drunk by the trucker and his companion in the loneliness of the long, never-ending routes (they use a vessel with a wide mouth into which it is easy to pour the hot water in spite of the jolts along the track); by students, when studying; by workers during their midday rest; at home for breakfast or on any other occasion, rain or shine, in summer or in winter.”
I hope you enjoyed this article.If you would like to know more about this great argentinian culture, check out this book.
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