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Jun 14, 2007 10:37 PM

yerba mate newbe, any suggestions/advice?

Tried some and liked it. Went online and ordered 10 different 4 oz samples, a glass wonder straw and a few different uncured and cured cups (all with strange sounding names)-bombilla ! Anyhow, any CH advice as to how do I gradually get involved with this fascinating and varied tree/leaf?

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  1. One thing I'd say is not to steep it for too long- it is incredibly strong stuff!

    6 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo

      Strange, I find I can steep it in the frig (I like it cold) and leave the bag in til I empty the bottle. I use those big, fill-it-yersekf tea bags, and start them from cold. I actually prefer it cold, so tend to drink more in wamer weather. I use Guayaki brand,
      grown in the rainforest, sustainable agriculture, yada, yada, tastes great, and well priced...

      I have not entered the world of specialized brewing tools, instead using a large mug and the afforementioned teabags,,,

      1. re: galleygirl

        Guayaki if you can't find anything else. Three ounces of guayaki(american import attempt) is the same price as a 1kg bag of cruz de malta. I prefer the taste of the Cruz also. In Argentina you buy the stuff in large quantities. It strikes me as curious that Guayaki fleeces unknowing Americans with their ridiculously overpriced mate.Unfortunately Guayaki is the easiest to find. Good luck

        1. re: SeanT

          Yeah, coffee is $2 in Costa Rica, I guess we should go down there to buy that, as well.

          1. re: galleygirl

            Ooh, I like the witty retort. However, it is not that difficult to find in SOuth American markets or in my case a Middle eastern market.I would not have thought a Middle eastern market would have mate but there it was.

            1. re: galleygirl

              Yikes, cut down on the attitude. I am sure Guayaki is fine and its really nice that its sustainable blah blah but unless environmental footprint or whatever is a huge concern, I think most would say that Guayaki is not worth the money. Let's not get all political/anthropological. If you look in the right places you can find it in many urban areas. Even suburbs. I live in the suburbs (NY suburbs), but there are a couple of places where you can find it. Look at any latin supermarkets, maybe even large bodegas, or specialty stores, escpescially in areas that have large Paraguayan, Argentine, Brazilian, or even Bolivian. And lastly, you are talking about mate in tea bag form? I wasn't even aware that Guayaki sold it without the teabags and I have never tried it the traditional way with guayaki but that would be really, really expensive since you use a lot more herb for the gourd than you would in a teabag.

              Anyways, also try to buy a gourd (also known as a mate) thats not too thin but also not too deep or else you will have to use way too much of the yerba mate to fill the device. This is espescially true if you are drinking solo or with few people and arent gonna take too many sips. And I prefer metal straws (bombillas) to bamboo or wood or whatever it is they make them out of sometimes. And I have only had it hot/warm and I usually keep the water in a thermos so it does not cool. I guess other people like it cold? but I have never had it cold or slightly chilled only very hot, even when its 36 celsius outside. Anyways, that post was a lot longer than I intended. Good luck.

              1. re: Sambossanova

                No, I put the loose Guayaki into fill-it-yourself teabags, cuz I hate picking leaves out from between my teeth...Imagine how much I will enjoy the real beverage, when evn such inferior stuff as the Guayaki made me happy!

                Of course, since it was the firt time I had even heard of yerba mate, I would have denied myself the pleasure of the limited experience I have had for the past year. Onward and upward. Too bad my 7 ounce bag still has some in it....

        1. During my time in Argentina we used to drink mate using the Mate Gourds and the bombilla...we would pack up the gourd and kind of jam the bombilla in towards the bottom, add some sugar and hot water and drink, adding hot water every couple minutes... I dont like many bitter type things (tea,coffee) but i developed a taste for it. Also people enjoyed it iced during the winter, i had a friend who lived up in the north by Iguazu who had a name for it, he was Guarani but I forget the name of it, oh well.

          1. I meant iced during the summer, our winter is their summer ha got confused

            1. First thing to do is cure your mate (the cup itself) if it isn't already. You have to put some yerba in it, fill with hot water, then let it sit overnight. (You can probably get more detailed instructions somewhere online.) Then you have to figure out which brands of mate you prefer. Some, like Rosamonte, are quite strong and bitter. Others, like Cruz de Malta, are a little softer. There are so many brands, you will have to experiment and see which ones you like. I do recommend, though, buying it at a South American market. Avoid the yerbas that are marketed for Americans, as they are way, way overpriced! In my Argentine carniceria, you can buy a kilo for about $5.

              The proper way do prepare the mate is to put the bombilla int he mate (container), then fill the mate to the top with yerba. Put your hand over the top of it, turn it upside down and shake to get rid of the tiny dusty bits that clog the bombilla. Heat the water—but do not boil! Proper temp is about 180-190 degrees, like for green tea. Some people drink the mate amargo—bitter—and some put a little sugar in it. Argentines (I can only speak about Argentina, but it is also drunk in Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) do not add too much sugar though, so it is never sweet the way Americans sweeten tea. The sugar is there only to cut the bitterness a bit. (I prefer it amargo.) After the mate is empty, fill it again with the hot water. Repeat until the mate has lost its flavor. You can usually fill the mate at least 7 or 8 times before changing the yerba.

              Keep in mind that in South America, drinking mate is a social activity. The usual way to drink it is to fill the mate, take a sip or two, and pass it around to everyone in the group until it is empty, then refill. Of course, people drink it alone, but in Argentina you would be looked at askance if you were drinking mate and did not offer it to everyone else who is present. Not for germaphobes. But it is a really nice custom that typefies the Argentine way of socializing.

              It is drunk throughout the day, and oftentimes people eat little pastries (facturas) or cookies with it, especially in mid-afternoon. Although I have met many Argentines who insist it does not have caffeine, this is not true! It has tons of caffeine. I used to drink an entire thermos full of water myself, refilling the mate with fresh yerba a couple times, but I had to stop because it was giving me the shakes!

              Maybe if you have other friends who are interested in mate, you can have a group over to try the various brands you selected. If you try to do side-by-side comparisons by yourself, you might not sleep for three days!

              3 Replies
              1. re: laguera

                THANK YOU for the info -- Very helpful especially about the argentine market - I paid a average of $2.00 at for 4 oz. samples - I've tried Rosamonte Deslaalada,a mint blend and a toffee house blend - they were good but "light" I brew 1 TBS mate using 180 degree water steeped for 4 minutes -- sound ok to you? - the color of the brew is i nice gold (I was told it should not be green in color as it would be bitter) perhaps I should add a tsp of green tea for more body -- anyway, thanks again for your help along the Yerba Mate Road!!

                1. re: drobbia

                  Yerba is available in a wide range of prices and quality. If you want the best you need to buy a brand that has no sticks, stems, or powder, since they can represent up to 50% of the total weight. Aviva brand yerba mate will run you about $5 for 1/2# bag. It is a "wild harvest" mate. The flavor is superior. Suggested prep is 2 tbls for 10 cups either in Mr. Coffee or french press. You can buy the best or you can buy the rest. I have been drinking the Aviva Brand for 7 years and have not found another brand that even comes close.

                  1. re: bill lewis

                    THANK YOU - I will hunt down the AVIVA brand - 5.00 for 1/2 lb sounds fine if the yerba mate is super -- after trying 8 samples fom I am very happy with the Mananita(hot) also the Salante gold(hot) and the Mint blend(iced)
                    Although I will use the gourd eventually, I do use the bombilla and like the way the yerba mate tastes as it goes to the back of my throat as compared to tru my teeth - I brew the water in my coffeemate(170 degrees)-17 oz-over 2 TBS of Mate- 5 mins-I do not infuse the yerba mate a second time - so far the whole yerba mate experiance has been fun and has opened a whole new tasting treat for me -- I love wines of all types but since my SO can no longer drink alcohol I too have become a tea totaler,err,Mate totaler - I will try the traditional method soon and get back - thanks for all the posts!!