Not only do we need to know how to prepare mate correctly; the quality of the yerba we use to make it is key as well, to determine the taste, the scents and the entire experience of drinking it. To recognise a good yerba, we should use all five senses:
Observing the colour of the yerba is key. Ideally, it should be a yellowish green colour, and never an intense green or shades of brown. There also needs to be harmony among the diverse elements: stems, thick and thin leaves, and dust. The proper quantity of each component determines the final flavour of the blend.
The tactile feeling could also say a lot about mate. The consistency is ideally equal to that of dry leaves, and when holding it in our hands, we ought to hear a subtle creak and see a small quantity of dust dropping.
A good yerba smells fresh and dry, a bit roasted. Beware if the smell is too sharp or if it looks humid.
Though the yerba is supposed to be a little bitter, if it smells too strongly, it is not a good sign.
All of us know how mate tastes: it should be fresh and have a gentle bitter touch. Yerba mate is naturally bitter and, in this respect, its taste will be given by several factors like the origin or treatment process.
The dust is an elementary component of yerba: it is simply a leave which is too grounded. It provides consistency and texture, apart from foaminess and a scent, for that final taste of a good mate. Anyway, to make a good mate we should prevent the dust from remaining at the bottom and clogging the straw. To this end, we will simply turn the mate upside down and shake it prior to pouring water.
By mixing these tricks with the right preparation, you will obtain a good, comforting drink with all the virtues that are expected of a great mate.