Brew using boiling water and leave to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes
Yerba Mate is a Herbal Tea like no other. Pronounced as “yer-bah mah-tay”, this bold, invigorating brew has long been associated with the vast mountains ranges and enchanting jungles of South America. It has been consumed for countless centuries and was often referred to as “The Drink of the Gods” by indigenous groups and “The Green God of the Indios” by European colonists of the late 15th and early 16th Centuries.
Today, Yerba Mate remains a popular beverage across the continent and in many countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Many connoisseurs of Yerba Mate believe it resembles the combined flavours of lightly smoked wood, tobacco, and fine Green Tea. It’s also recognised by its slightly astringent and even bitter taste. Yerba Mate is not just a tea, it’s an experience. It brings out a sense of community, and is best enjoyed with friends and family who wish to partake in the joyous occasion of ‘pasando el mate’, which translated from Spanish means ‘passing the mate’.
What is Yerba Mate? This unique plant originates from the South American rainforest. It actually belongs to the Holy family (or, Aquifoliaceae family) and often goes by its specific botanical name, Ilex Paraguariensis. It stands between 6 to 8 metres tall with some even reaching up to 15 metres. Its leaves are evergreen, while its also known for producing small fruit berries and greenish-white flowers.
Cultivated Yerba Mate, when grown for its consumption in beverage form, is typically shade-grown. This growing method delivers a bolder flavour, as well as providing more medicinal and nutritional properties. During the harvesting season, only the youngest, greenest leaves are gathered for processing. These leaves are then dried over open fires. This imparts the distinct smoky flavour of Yerba Mate known and loved throughout South America and now beyond. Following this, the leaves are chopped and ground into a powdery mixture known as ‘yerba’. Once this has taken place, the ground herbs are then ready for brewing and can be placed into a hollowed out squash known as a traditional drinking gourd.
A straw-like object called a Bombilla is finally placed inside the gourd and is used for sipping the delicious Yerba Mate within. This herbal tea is most commonly consumed cold in Paraguay, and hot in most other South American countries. In fact, such is its immense popularity that today, Yerba Mate is actually the national beverage of Paraguay, as well as of Argentina and Uruguay. With the latter in particular, the Uruguayan Government has only very recently passed laws making it illegal to drink Yerba Mate while driving owing to its amazing taste and how distracting it can be. Brazil, on the other hand, is the largest cultivator of Yerba Mate, followed by Argentina (particularly in northern Argentina) and then Paraguay.
Enjoying Yerba Mate is often a communal experience. It’s frequently passed around from guest to guest, establishing friendship, trust, and togetherness. Similar to the different meanings of Japanese tea rituals, the consumption of Yerba Mate can be associated with various gestures of goodwill. For example, slowly pouring a small amount of water means that there’s a strong interpersonal connection between guest and host.
This is because the leisurely process of pouring the water will make both the infusion and the ritual last longer. The server (also known as ‘cebador’ or ‘celebrator’) is the only person that can pour the water, pass the mate between guests, and maintain the freshness of the leaves. If, however, you choose to enjoy this beverage by yourself then fear not; after all Yerba Mate tastes just as great no matter the circumstances, and wherever you are in the world.
Type of Tea: Herbal Tea.
Brewing Instructions: Brew using freshly boiled water left to cool at temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees. Following this, infuse for 3 - 6 minutes, depending on personal taste.
How to Serve: For those wishing to stray from tradition, sugar can make a delicious accompaniment to this beverage. Despite this, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company believe it’s best served as it is.
Tasting Notes: Yerba Mate boasts a strong earthy aroma coupled with its classically smoky, woody flavours.
Colour in Cup: Vibrant golden-green liquor, light in tone.
Benefits of Yerba Mate: Research has indicated that this brew contains an astounding number of vitamins and minerals! These include Vitamin A, B1, and B2, riboflavin, carotene, colin, pantothenic acid, inositol, and a total of 15 (yes, fifteen) types of amino acids. Further to this, Yerba Mate also contains significant amounts of potassium, sodium, and magnesium, as well as antioxidants called polyphenols.
Health PointsAnti Oxidants, Detox, Digestive, Flu, Heart, Immune System, Weight Loss
Time of DayBreakfast, Lunchtime