Once upon a time Americans would not have had ready access to yerba mate, nor would they have known what to do with it if they had. But let’s clarify that statement a bit, as it refers specifically to North Americans. In South America, yerba mate has long been a favorite beverage, to the point that in some countries it’s every bit as popular as coffee is here.
But times have changed and even though yerba mate has hardly exploded onto the scene in the northern part of the Americas, it is readily available now and more of our citizenry actually have a clue as to what it is. These days, yerba mate is increasingly being offered in tea bags and has even begun to turn up more frequently in a variety of bottled beverages.
But to experience yerba mate the way it’s meant to be experienced one must do it the way it’s traditionally been done in South America – by using a mate (gourd) to contain the chopped leaves and water and a filter tipped straw (bombilla) that helps to screen out all of those tiny leaves and gritty bits.
There are any number of instructional web sites and videos that can brief you on how to prepare and drink yerba mate in the traditional manner, but all of this is for naught if your mate has not been properly prepared first – a process sometimes referred to as curing.
The detail of this curing process might vary somewhat, depending on whom you ask, but essentially consists of soaking the gourd for a period of time and scooping out the soft membrane that covers the interior. By most accounts you should then proceed to soak the gourd in water or yerba mate or alternate between the two for periods of up to a day at a time.
Check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!