- Yerba Mate Background
- Mate Preparation
Yerba Maté is an indigenous herb of the Amazon and popular throughout Latin America for its invigorating energy and robust flavor. It's rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and it's often referred to as the "tea" of Latin America.
Mate leaves are processed somewhat like tea leaves. The tips of the branches are cut just before the leaves reach full growth and the leaves are steamed and dried (in fired mate the leaves are dried over fires) The dried leaves are sifted and allowed to age in order to enhance the flavor of the mate. Yerba Maté contains caffeine and delivers uplifting energy. The caffeine content of mate is comparable to that of mild arabica coffee.
Ingredients: Artisan green yerba mate
Yerba Maté is one of many potential renewable rainforest products and part of a socially and environmentally conscious movement known as "market driven conservation." Amazon tribes rely on yerba mate as an alternative source of income to destructive logging.
Also known as Paraguay tea and yerba mate; mate is an herb prepared from the leaves of a South America evergreen shrub, Illex paraguayensis, a relative of the common holly. The leaves are oval and about 6 inches long. Flowers of the plant are small and white. The fruit appears in small clusters of tiny red berries growing close to the stems of the plant. Like guarana and yopo, mate is rich in caffeine and was used as a caffeine beverage source by the native population of Latin America centuries before the European settlers arrived to establish coffee plantations.
Yerba Matte is called "The drink of the gods" by many of the indigenous people of South America who have brewed it for centuries. It was however, a people who believed in a different God that are responsible for the first commercial Yerba Matte plantations – Jesuit missionaries. Upon arriving in the new world, the Jesuits quickly adopted the native practice of drinking Yerba Matte as a tea. At the time, Yerba Matte leaves were only being harvested from wild stands of trees. Owing to its widespread popularity, the Jesuits realized the large economic potential of the plant and founded the first Yerba Matte plantations during the mid 1600's.
Water Temperature: 175
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf (per 6 fl oz water): 1 Tbl. (2.5 grams)
Steep Time: 3-7 minutes
Number of Infusions: 1
The traditional way to brew mate in South America is with a gourd and bombilla (silver straw.) However, Yerba mate is very versatile and can be prepared a variety of ways, from a tea infuser or tea press to a coffee machine... even an espresso maker. It can be consumed hot, or cold, and served with milk and honey or iced with lemon and mint, the combinations are endless.
I would recommend experimenting with temperatures, quantities and method until you find one that works best for you. Having said that, using water that is too hot will bring out the bitterness of the leaf. Infusion time often depends on the kind of mate you're brewing. When brewed the traditional way (with the gourd) you can use a high leaf to water ratio and infuse multiple times unlike most herbs. Doing it this way you will get a stronger flavor in the first couple of infusions and it will soften in the next few.