Every lover of yerba mate -currently considered one of the 50 most delicious drinks in the world– should be prepared with a good Yerba Mate Kit (called “kit matero” in Spanish) which conveniently includes all the elements needed to enjoy Yerba Mate; whether it’s with friends, home alone, at a park or at the office.
First of all, a Yerba Mate Kit shall include a good mate gourd. For example, a hollow pumpkin gourd with a small base and a wide mouth that guarantees a perfect mate. Although mate gourds come in many materials; gourds made of glass keep the original flavor and properties of yerba mate, they do not absorb scents or flavors, and they are very easy to clean. And if they are also coated with a thermal insulating material, such as leather, they will maintain its ideal temperature for longer.
Another essential element is the “bombilla“, a thin metallic tube used to sip the infusion of yerba mate.
A thermos made of glass or stainless steel to maintain the water temperature, with a recommended capacity of 1 liter.
The perfect Yerba Mate Kit should also include a thermal bag or a suitable bag to carry the thermos; preferably waterproof for greater protection outdoors and coated for adequate thermal insulation.
Of course, high-quality yerba mate. With or without stem, flavored, in tea-bags, soft, low-dust: there is a type of yerba mate for every taste.
At home, it is also ideal to have a kettle that allows us to heat the water to the perfect temperature, around 75 °C.
Although the composition of the kit does not vary much from country to country, there are certain differences according to the local culture.
In Argentina, for example (the largest producer of yerba mate in the world) people consider yerba mate as a social tradition and enjoy it mostly in group rounds, in which everyone shares the same mate gourd and a leader called “cebador” is in charge of preparing the beverage for everyone.
For Uruguayans, on the other hand, mate is more of a personal habit that is enjoyed at any time and in any place, so each person has their own personal kit and carries it with them anywhere they go. In Uruguay, mate cups are much larger and yerba mate without stem is preferred.
It is important to use an appropriate mate cup, which is previously prepared so that the walls are sealed and any flavor coming from the material is eliminated. It is recommended that the bombilla is made of stainless steel, silver or alpaca. The appropriate cleaning and maintenance of the Yerba Mate Kit is crucial: after drinking mate, all yerba must be removed as soon as possible; then rinsed, drained and let to dry face-up to prevent the appearance of fungi and germs.
And of course, always use high-quality yerba mate with a genuine flavor, texture and aroma.
Drinking mate is an ancient tradition, deeply rooted in national cultures such as Uruguay and Argentina, just as soccer or asados (or even more). Yerba Mate is more than a drink. It is considered an element of social approach, a ritual that every day expands more and more beyond South American borders.