In November 2018, the renowned Spanish magazine “Tapas” has decided to complement the 75,000 copies of their monthly edition with an amazing cover: Argentinian rock icon Andrés Calamaro holding a mate, the legendary beverage that is among the 50 best drinks in the world according to CNN Travel.
This internationally famous Spanish magazine, which has received the National Gastronomy Award, decided to interview Andrés Calamaro during his visit to Spain to present his latest album.
”Why does Andrés Calamaro like yerba mate so much?” is the title of the article, in which the singer from Río de la Plata reveals the mysteries of Argentina’s national drink.
Calamaro shares the secrets of preparing a good mate and insists on the importance of the person who is in charge of the preparation: ”The difference between a good mate and a regular mate, is almost like the difference between good and evil. It’s just what happens with the quality of things. It depends on the patience of the person doing them.”
”It has to be prepared gently, soaking the yerba first with warm water. Then, after pouring hot water, you can spit the first sip if it’s too acid. You always pour the water on the side of the bombilla (straw) and try not to soak all the yerba. The ideal mate has dry yerba on one side and foam on the other side, where you drink.” Regarding temperature, he says that there are different theories. ”I like it hot, at 99 °C”. However, the Taragüi team recommends a temperature between 70 °C and 80 °C.
The quality of the yerba is a decisive factor and Andrés knows it: ”You have to use high-quality yerba because there is a difference with commercial brands. I use Argentine yerba, although I really like Uruguayan mate”
”Mate keeps you awake (…) and even regulates your digestion. It is antioxidant, perhaps even diuretic. And a lot more. It is a miraculous beverage. It has more virtues than we know. It’s also a good companion. It includes iron, magnesium, vitamin B6 and caffeine. It’s complete.” says the musician.
”Bitter mate is the most common but you can drink it with sugar and add mint, chamomile, fennel, etc. You can drink it in bags like tea, or filtered like coffee”, in which case it is called ”mate cocido” (boiled mate) and it can be served with milk.
”I’m not sure where our love for mate comes from” – he confesses in the interview – ”anyway, I did not impose mate on myself as an inclusive consumption. I keep improving my technique and discovering new types of yerba. I started to drink mate as an adult, as a child I was not interested in it and I did not try to get used to it ”.
The interviewer also points out that it is usual to see Calamaro with a mate in his hand, and quotes a song from the author’s new album, translating to: Early in the morning / a bitter mate accompanies me… ” I have a liter of mate for breakfast ¡and I can continue fasting for several hours if I have a second liter!” Calamaro tells the magazine, ”if I travel for more than a few days, I bring my yerba, thermos and mate with me” .
Luckily for him, it is now possible to find mate in many of the places he travels, thanks to the strong international trend. ”Some communities learned to drink mate and took the habit to other countries. The best yerba is exported… so it is perfectly possible to find yerba almost anywhere”.
Not only Argentina’s celebrities know and enjoy the benefits of yerba mate. Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Obama and world-class soccer players like Antoine Griezmann, maintain their energy and health with this legendary beverage. The international expansion of this tradition has opened the market around the world and it is very easy to buy yerba mate no matter where you are.