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Mate is a South American beverage with large amounts of caffeine. It is a tradition to drink this in Central and South America, along with Spain. However, each place has their own way of making this tea mixture. It is prepared by steeping yerba mate in a gourd, with a bombilla stuck inside. A bombilla is a straw that is usually made of silver, with the sole purpose of filtering the mate. Mate contains chunky bits, which is why the bombilla is used, thus allowing only the liquid to pass. Firstly, you will have to fill the gourd with cold water before adding hot water in order to protect it from scalding the mate. First time mate makers often make the mistake of accidentally burning the tea leaves.
Some drinkers like to add sugar or honey, creating mate dulce. The translation being, a sweet mate. Others may prefer to drink theirs sugarless, thus named a mate amargo. The translation being, a bitter mate. A mate amargo is a practice used more commonly in Brazil, in its southernmost state. Traditionally, natural gourds are used. However, there has been a boom of wood vessels, bamboo tubes, and even gourd-shaped mates made of ceramic, or even steel. A traditional gourd is made of the cabaca fruit shell. Gourds are traditionally decorated with silver, sporting decorative traditional designs, or designs with floral motifs.
Gauchos, also known as brazilian cowboys had a tendency to drink mate at noon. The tradition surrounding this, is that it would be a time where men would gather to bond and socialize over mate. This is also known as chimaro. Chimaro is the custom of drinking mate with one another. It became a symbol of uniting different beliefs, social class, and overall creating a common ground to live on.
Mate has the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate. For centuries, one of the tribes in South America sip yerba mate from a traditional gourd for its rejuvenative effects. There are multiple vitamins and minerals, along with amino acids, and an abundant amount of antioxidants. It is difficult to find a plant in the world equal to mate in nutritional value. Funnily enough, it contains practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life.
It can be strong like coffee without the extreme bitterness, and because it is not oily nor acid forming, it is less likely to cause stomach acid or a jittery feeling. There are many benefits to this traditional beverage. Many who drink it encourage foreigners to take up drinking mate as well.
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