Even though Yerba Mate is bitter by nature, some people would rather sweeten their Mate tea with sugar, honey or other sweeteners during its brewing. For this, the Mate pot should be well cured.
Among the several ways of having Mate (the customary Argentinian one, the cold tereré, flavoured Yerba Mate, in tea bags, and so on), many people sweeten their Yerba Mate to lessen its characteristic bitterness. Sweet Mate is generally prepared with a touch of sugar, though you can use sweeteners, honey, stevia, brown sugar… Everybody makes “Mate dulce” according to their tastes – you may even try varied options till you find your favourite one!
Step by step: how to make “Mate dulce”
- Heat water till just before the boiling point (ideally 75°C or 167°F), and pour it into a thermos to maintain its temperature.
- Just like in the traditional recipe, fill ¾ of the cup with Yerba.
- Cover the gourd with your hand, shake it softly to combine its elements.
- There are two ways of sweetening your Mate: one is by adding sugar or other sweeteners to the water, so the flavour remains in every round. Another one is, like some prefer, by adding a teaspoon of sugar, honey or sweetener, straight to the Yerba.
- Pour hot water slowly on the part around the bombilla, till a thin layer of foam appears on the surface. Let Yerba Mate absorb this first amount of water, and then pour water again to the top. That’s it, ready!
Tips for sweetening your Yerba
- Something to bear in mind is that when sweetening your Mate, the original flavour and natural characteristics of Yerba are not totally appreciated.
- To add more flavour to a sweet Mate infusion (or even to a classic one), you may include fruit peels or herbs.
- For a sweet Mate infusion, using a wide Mate pot is not a must. It is in fact habitual to use a kind of pumpkin gourd named “poro” or “pera” – because of its pear shape.
- As sommelier Karla Johan Lorenzo views it, it is not advisable to have sweet Mate in a Mate gourd which has been cured for bitter Yerba Mate. The sweet Mate gourd needs to be cured making use of brown sugar, burning coal, used Yerba and boiling water.
- As a rule of thumb, you should never sweeten a Mate pot which is used for drinking bitter Yerba Mate, as the sweetness remains for a long time. There exists a friendly dispute between people that drink bitter Mate and those that prefer it sweet.