If you and I lived in certain parts of South America, there would be no need for me to explain yerba mate to you. Since I definitely don’t live there and you, the reader, probably don’t, I should point out that yerba mate is best described as an herbal beverage that’s wildly popular in many countries in South America. The traditional way to drink yerba mate is as a hot beverage, served in a gourd called a mate, and sipped through a straw which filters out the leaves and gritty bits.
Unadulterated yerba mate can be an acquired taste for someone who hasn’t grown up with it, but it’s gaining some popularity outside of South America even so. The taste of yerba mate can be made more palatable for newcomers by the addition of a variety of flavorings, and here in the United States it’s gaining popularity in bottled “tea” drinks as well.
Acceptance of yerba mate in the United States seems to be slow but steady, but yerba mate producers have also been attempting to spread the good word in such far-flung and somewhat unlikely locations as South Korea and Ireland. As The Korea Herald reported recently, the Paraguayan embassy in South Korea invited a group of English-speaking students to take part in a yerba mate tasting session at Konkuk University.
Yerba mate might be something of a hard sell in Ireland. The Irish are not necessarily one of the first groups of people you think of when tea drinking is mentioned, but they are actually some of the heaviest tea drinkers in the world. That fact notwithstanding, the Irish Times recently reported on the efforts of a popular Uruguayan singer who recently sung the praises of yerba mate at the Dublin Latin American festival.
If you are finding “straight” yerba mate to be a bit unpalatable you could try mixing it with beer or ale. Or better yet, hook up with MateVeza, who have already done all of the heavy lifting for you. They recently added Morpho Herbal Ale, an organic ale brewed with yerba mate, hibiscus flowers and bay leaves, to their line of yerba mate-based ales.
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