Mate is a delicious and nutritious infusion made from the leaves of Ilex Paraguariensis, a tree that only grows in subtropical regions of South America.
Mate is a beverage from South America, very popular in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. To understand its present importance, it is necessary to know its history.
The Guaraní and their yerba
Mate consumption dates back to the Guarani people (natives of some South American countries), as confirmed by the investigations of essayist and journalist Amaro Villanueva. They chewed the leaves directly or placed them in a calabash gourd with water and sipped. In fact, the word “mate” comes from the Guarani “Caa-mate” ( “Caa” means plant or grass, and “mate” refers to the gourd). Other groups like the Incas, the Charruas and even the Araucanos adopted mate from the Guarani. For the natives, the mate plant was a sacred gift of the gods, and the mate had for them a special and spiritual significance, in addition to its nutritional value.
Popularity in colonial times
Thanks to its virtues and benefits, mate soon became popular among the Spaniards who colonized South America. The yerba was carried from its place of origin throughout the territory under Spanish rule, and especially the Jesuits were responsible for extending the use of mate by using it in their reductions, although they drank boiled mate and not from a gourd. They also discovered that the mate plant germinates only in certain regions of South America, a secret that was confirmed half a century later by the French naturalist Aimé Bonpland.
The “gauchos” and their love for yerba mate
During the long process of Argentina’s independence in the 19th century, the tradition of mate gained strength in Argentine folklore. The “gauchos” (a kind of Argentine cowboy) adopted mate as part of their culture, along with riding horses and wearing leather clothing. They drank mate in groups, for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and before going to bed.
Yerba mate, today
Yerba mate is grown in Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil, where conditions of soil, temperature and humidity are ideal. Just like those old gauchos, mate is part of the daily life of an average Argentine. It is consumed equally in homes, offices, parks, universities and squares, not only for its properties as an infusion, but for its role as a social bond.
The process of preparing mate (“cebar”, in Spanish) involves a series of techniques and tricks to ensure the best results. In this opportunity, Valeria Trapaga (sommelier specializing in yerba mate) explains all there is to know about preparing mate as an expert.
The quality of the Yerba Mate
The first step is using a good-quality yerba for our mate tea, as this will have a huge impact on its flavor, texture and aromas. To identify a good yerba, we must use all five senses. The yerba should exhibit a yellowish green color and there should be a harmony between the components: dust, leaves, chips and fiber. When you hold it, yerba should have a dry texture and produce a light cracking sound; Its aroma should be fresh and slightly roasted, while the flavor should have a nice bitter touch.
An appropriate mate container
When the mate (container) is properly cured, it is able to absorb all the attributes of the yerba and preserve its flavors. So before we start preparing the infusion, it is important to make sure that the container we use is appropriate (it must have a narrow base and a wide mouth) and that it is properly cured.
How do we cure the container? We fill the container with yerba mate, then we add hot water and let it sit overnight. In the morning, we scrape the surface very well to remove the woody stem. If necessary, repeat this process until it is completely clean and then let it dry in the sun.
Steps to prepare the perfect maté
All set! The result will be a foaming and intense infusion, where the good flavor of the yerba will stay much longer.
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Taragüi Maracuyá Tropical
Termera Roja Taragüi
Termo Rojo Plástico Lumilagro
Unión with stems
Unión Hierbas del Litoral con Cítricos
Unión Hierbas serranas
La Merced - Barbacuá
La Merced - Monte
La Merced - Campo