la sangre de America Latina
If student, worker or pensioner, basically everybody in the very south of America is obsessed with the strong, green tea. In Argentina, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay it is really typical to see people passing the streets with a thermo in one hand and the typical mate cup with bombilla in the other hand. They drink it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between. People share their mate with friends, family and even strangers. They are very proud of that tradition and its roots to a time long before the colonization of the europeans. Almost every region has its own way and rules how to prepare the mate properly. In this article we would like to show you how to prepare the mate like the Uruguayos drink it.
- A mate, a cup which is traditionally shaped out of the dried fruit of the mate plant. Usually it is wrapped in leather or decorated with carvings and paintings.
- A bombilla, a drinking straw from metal with a filter in the end.
- Yerba Mate, the chopped and dried branches and leaves of the mate plant.
- A thermos and hot water.
Preparation:At first you need to boil some water in a teapot. Meanwhile its time to prepare the mate, for that you fill the cup to 3/4 with Yerba Mate. Use your hand as a lid, shake the cup to mix the tea, flip it to the side and bring it back in its position. Afterwards the mate should slant diagonally in the cup. Fill the boiling water into the thermos and add cold water to the teapot. Use the now lukewarm water from the pot to fill up the cup and wait for one minute. The mate should now soak in the water and grow to the edge of the cup. Place the bombilla in the opposite diagonal direction and make sure it reaches the ground. You can use your fingers, to push the mate a bit up so there will be some dry leaves above the cup which will sink down while drinking to keep the mate tasty.
drinking rules:You can drink a mate on your own but usually people drink it in small groups. For that one person (el servador) takes care of the preparation. The first infusion is done with the rest of the lukewarm water from the teapot. Normally its bitter and not really tasty so the servador drinks it and prepares the ongoing infusions with hot water for his guests. You receive the cup from the servador, you finish it off and give it back to him. You don't thank him yet, because if you do so it means that you don't want any more. So basically the servador takes the cup back and the whole process starts again with the person next to you. If you give the cup to someone else than the servador that person needs to kiss the cup and hand it back to the servador so he could do a new infusion. The round ends either if nobody wants anymore or the servador ends the session because there is no more taste in the leaves.
Mate is rich in caffeine and contains lots of vitamins. So in general its healthy and has a stimulant effect. Nevertheless the frequent consumption is not the best idea because it raises the chance for lung and bladder cancer.
Beside the described preparation there are many different ways to drink mate. Many people add sugar during the infusions, in Paraguay mate frio (iced mate tea with orange juice and sugar) is really popular and in the andean region people like to prepare mate de coca (the same process only with leaves of the coca plant) against the mountain sickness.
I hope we could whet your appetite so off to your next tea merchant and enjoy a tasty mate with your friends!