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 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, stem. 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.
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.
1. Fill three-quarters of the mate container with yerba.
2. Place the container upside down and shake it vigorously to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly mixed and distributed.
3. Slowly, bring the container back to its initial position, making sure that the yerba is inclined at an angle of 45 degrees, forming a small hole. Through this hole we will pour warm water (a water temperature between 70°C and 80°C is recommended) to moisten the lower part.
4. Now introduce the “bombilla” (straw) by pressing it against the internal wall of the mate container and try not to move it again.
5. Gradually add the water through the small hole where the straw is.
All set! The result will be a foaming and intense infusion, where the good flavor of the yerba will stay much longer.
Discover more about mate in Argentina.