Argentina | Drink | 03rd February 2022 | Virtual Wire
“I’ll wait for you with a mate”: the infusion of Argentines. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase and it’s because mate is much more than a bare infusion.
Its symbolic representation, different types of yerba, and its traditional preparation makes mate a unique infusión worldwide. One of the many characteristics of a mate is that it creates unity among people. Drinking mate invites its participants to enjoy a moment of sharing, creating emotional links and eternal talks. We can enjoy this infusion at home, at work, in college, with friends or alone.
It’s a cultural habit and practice that you can find on every social level. A ritual passed down from generation to generation with pride and love. But… what is mate? Mate is a hollow recipient which is filled with yerba mate. We can find it in several Latin American countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The origin of yerba mate travels back to the guaraní natives. They drank yerba mate and thought it had magic properties. Years later, yerba mate was known as The jesuitic tea. They were the ones who investigated its production and consumption. Where is yerba mate cultivated and how many types are there? In Argentina, provinces like Corrientes and Misiones are leaders in its production. Their soil has a high content of iron, and a subtropical climate with no dry season.
These geographic characteristics subserve Argentina to be the country with the higher level of production worldwide. Soil, ageing, and the amount of leaves impact on flavours and perfume of the infusion. This game of times and quantities derives from different types of yerba thought for the enjoyment of de palate of all. For those who prefer to enjoy a milder flavour, they can choose yerba mate with a stick, compounded or flavoured.
The first one is a blend composed mainly of dried and crushed leaves and a minimum percentage of sticks. Compound yerba contains natural herbs such as linden, chamomile or boldo. As an extra to the flavour, you can find the natural benefits of the different herbs. For example, relaxation, better digestion or more energy. Flavoured yerba is made with natural essences. It contains citrus tones such as lemon, orange or other fruit flavours like strawberry. These three options are especially for those who are initiating in the world of a mate because of their friendly flavour. Here’s a tip for you: if you’re looking for a more intense fruit flavour, you can let the orange peel dry and incorporate it on top of the yerba mate.
The yerba mate without stick or desperado has an intense, long-lasting and full-bodied flavour. Its name comes from its composition. Mainly of dried, broken and pulverized leaves and a very small amount of stick. Organic yerba is an ideal option for those who want a more natural infusion. Its production process is committed to the environment and tries to avoid agrochemicals. Also, recyclable materials and packaging are used in its process. It’s a very popular option nowadays.
Those looking for more exotic flavours can opt for yerba barbacuá. Its name comes from guaraní lenguaje and means toasted. They let the leaves rest for days over Woodfire. That’s why the yerba gets a roasted smoky flavour and smell. If you usually enjoy Food with these characteristics you’ll surely love this type of yerba.
How do you prepare a good mate? A good mate drinker is a perfectionist with its preparation. You have to take into account several things. First, the container of mate itself, the temperature of the water and the amount of yerba. The water should be at 85 degrees. Electic kettles are useful because they have included a thermometer on them. If the water boils the yerba could burn and lose its taste.
Then you have to put three-quarters of yerba in the container. Shake a couple of times to remove the dust. If this bothers you, there’re some accessories specifically designed to separate the powder from the rest of the yerba. Then you lay your mate with a 45-degree inclination so that a Wall of yerba forms on one of the sides. Slowly add water and allow the herb to absorb. You have to be patient!
In the end, add the bulb, or as we say in Argentina, la bombilla, with a finger in the hole. This is to avoid clogs. After all these steps you are ready to share and enjoy your mate. The starter or Celador is the one who serves mate. In your meeting, you can add some salad cookies or the snack you like. And Hopefully, You’re ready to say, “I’ll wait for you with a mate”.