What is Yerba Mate and How is it prepared?

mate argentino

This post is also available in: Español

Today is World Mate Day, and to celebrate it, we want to tell you what is yerba mate, the most popular drink in Argentina, but also very common in other countries like Uruguay and Paraguay.

What yerba mate is?

First of all, you have to know that yerba mate is a tropical plant that grows in the forests where the Parana, Paraguay, and some areas of the Uruguay rivers pass through.

It is the leaves of these trees and their branches that are used for mate infusions.

These are extracted from the trees and left to dry. These dry leaves are then crushed and ground, obtaining what we can buy in any supermarket, the yerba mate.

mate bowl with water

Where is the yerba mate from

Although it does not have an exact location, its leaves are extracted from the Paranaense Jungle (southern Brazil and northern Argentina). This forest is the second one with the greatest biodiversity of the continent, only behind the Amazon.

To give you an idea of where it is, in this jungle, we find the Iguazú National Park. As you may have thought, this area is famous all over the world for Iguazu Falls.

The consumption of mate is essentially in Latin America, although in recent years it is spreading to other territories.

How to make yerba mate drink

There are as many ways to drink mate as people on the planet who drink it. Each one has its own style and preferences, so we are going to tell you about the traditional way of elaboration, and then you can adapt it to your tastes.

What do I need to prepare mate?

  • Ground yerba mate.
  • Hot water.
  • Thermos flask.
  • Mate or porongo: a bowl in the shape of a glass or cup.
  • Bombilla, straw, or popote: metallic cane through which the infused water is absorbed.

Once you have these elements, you can start.

thermos flask and mate on a table

How to prepare mate correctly?

  1. Heat the water to about 100ºC, without it coming to a boil, and place it in a thermos flask.
  2. Place the yerba mate in the mate (porongo) without filling it completely, on ¾ of the container.
  3. Pour some water from the flask to one side of the mate, wetting only a part of the mate.
  4. Put the bombilla (straw) without stirring and drink.

When it loses flavor, you can add water in the same wet part, in order not to wet all the yerba and to be able to enjoy this drink longer.

What does it taste like? Different yerba mate flavors

If you’ve never tasted mate, you probably won’t fall in love with it the first time. It has a bitter taste, which you don’t get used to in your first sip, even if they do it in Buenos Aires itself.

But this is where the preferences of each one come in. There are many people who use sugar or any other sweetener to reduce the bitterness of this drink. But remember to pour the sugar before the water, so it will dissolve and have a balanced taste.

There are also other combinations such as adding cinnamon, cloves, grated coconut, or even milk. You can also drink cooked yerba mate, like in tea bags.

Yerba mate benefits

  • It has cardiovascular benefits: yerba mate contains 90% more antioxidants than green tea, so it will help us in the prevention of any kind of diseases, especially cardiovascular ones.
  • Antioxidant properties: they will help maintain the good general health of our cells. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important benefits of yerba mate.
  • Yerba mate is an energy drink: just like coffee or tea, yerba mate has caffeine, also known as mateine, which will serve as a natural stimulant.
  • It helps to maintain a healthy weight: its stimulating properties help us to speed up the metabolism, thus consuming more calories in our daily life. In addition, it has zero fat content and is very low in calories.
  • Social component: not only do we have to look at the properties of yerba mate. It is also considered a socializing element since it is usually taken in the company of friends and family.

guy drinking mate in a park

Once you know the basics of this drink so popular in South America, do you dare to drink your first mate tea? Or do you prefer to travel to Argentina to try the authentic mate?

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