Friday, August 29, 2008

Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is the traditional drink of Paraguay. The first mention of mate was in 1592 by a Spaniard. The Spaniards learned of the yerba mate from the Guarani indians who cultivated and drank it.

In 1864, the Dictator Lopez gave 3000 kilos to King William of Prussia, who later became the Emperor of Germany. The king had admired the Paraguayan military and experimented with yerba mate on his own troops to see if it would make them more efficient. From a royal decree of 1864, doctor's began to study the yerba mate and discovered it to be more effective than coffee or black tea and without the negative side-effects. It contains vitamins, B, B12,E, A, and C.

To drink mate, one needs a cup, called a guampa, a silver straw with a spoon like filter, called a bombilla, and a thermos of water. This will be carried around with you and sharing is socially expected.

In the cold winter months, the mate is made by filling the guampa 2/3 full of yerba and adding hot water. I have yet been able to drink this without burning my mouth on the silver bombilla straw!

In the hot summer months, it is called terere and is made the same but with cold water. They sell cylindrical ice cubes which perfectly into the small thermoses people use.

Another way to prepare it is mate cocido. This is done by boiling the tea and then draining it off and drinking the brew.

The problem is...it all tastes like grass and looks like sticks!

I took this photo Sunday morning at church. You see the thermos, guampa and the silver bombilla. The green grassy looking stuff...yea, thats the mate!

19 comments:

Starla said...

OK, so your drinking grass??? LOL!!! Just kidding!!! :)

redneck preacher said...

I'll stick with coffee. I am trying to cut back a little. 10cc in a vein and I don't need any more.

Is the Yerba Mate served in restaraunts.

HTOITA

~K~ said...

I've seen missionaries carrying these around and drinking from them in the US!

Findalis said...

But it is a healthy drink. Just another one of G-d's gifts to us.

Pam said...

I certainly remember trying it when Brian made some for me after their survey trip to Paraguay. I'm sure it is nutritous but, no thanks! I'll pass! Love that photo though!

Nonohoicha said...

Ick! xD lol

Betty said...

LOL!! You poor thing! But you really have to try it again and again...you´ll aquire a taste for it, don´t give up. It is a great thing to loosen up the "atmosphere" when meeting new people. In the US you drink coffee, here it´s Tereré/Mate. What did you drink in Venezuela?

Jungle Mom said...

starla, But I never swallow!

Jungle Mom said...

RP, I do not know if it is served in restaurants. I have not been to many yet and I would not be ordering it. LOL!

Jungle Mom said...

betty, In Venezuela it was coffee.

MK said...

I thought that was some sort of fancy weed pipe. lol

Rhonda in Chile said...

And you didn't like it?
I don't blame you one bit, but you're probably going to have to cave in and learn to drink it. Its quite a cultural thing.
My DH likes it, and all the old ladies here drink it.

cube said...

I prefer coffee in the AM, but I must say it looks very much like any herbal tea that I love to drink late in the afternoon.

BTW is that pronounced mah-teh?

Jungle Mom said...

cube, pretty close.

Rebecca said...

It sounded great. Right up until I saw it.

Matt said...

Ah, mate! I haven´t had it in a few years. One of my old Spanish TAs brought it in and made it for us (Argentinian). I know it's big in Paraguay and Uruguay, too. Also have a buddy of mine that makes it on occasion. Cheers!

Gringo said...

Jungle Mom, good to have you post on yerba mate. If it is more concentrated and used with boiling water it has more of a smoky (amargo) taste than a grassy taste. You are a good sport to keep trying it, but that is no surprise. Maybe with time you will like it. In your position, I imagine you are handed yerba mate many times, so I rephrase my previous sentence : I hope that with time you will like it. Yerba mate is rather hard to avoid in Paraguay and Argentina, especially rural Argentina. Perhaps not as ubiquitous as Coca Cola in Georgia, but close. You are a better judge of that than I.

IMHO, green tea has more of a grassy taste than yerba mate does.

I share your dislike for the sticks in yerba mate. Fastidious gringos, I guess. I buy “sin palo” ( without sticks, for those who don’t speak Spanish), which for 80 cents more a kilo is worth it for me.

Yerba mate (tereré) is good for working outside, as you can drink enormous quantities to replenish water in your system without taking in all the sugar-based calories that come with soft drinks. OTOH, sometimes you need those calories.

In Argentina I met Steve, a gringo oilfield guy who had spent much of his childhood in Argentina as the son of another gringo oilfield guy. When Steve was working in the States, he took along his taste for yerba mate . One time in West Texas a cop stopped him for speeding. When the cop saw the guampa and bombilla, the cop assumed that some nefarious illegal drug was being imbibed. It took some persuasion on Steve’s part to assure the cop that he was not sipping marijuana tea! ( BTW, in Argentina the guampa is known as a mate, at least ones that are not cow’s horns.)

You have my sympathies for any attempts to learn Guaraní. In my limited exposure to Quechua in the Andes and Quiche and Qeqchi in Guatemala, I could at least pronounce the words. I couldn’t even pronounce Guaraní words !

Jungle Mom said...

Gringo, I keep trying as you know, I get offered alot of the stuff ...so I must keep trying...must!

wesly said...

jap i like the mate im in canda and i drink it all mornings, its great.