Mate, or Yerba Mate, comes from the Mate bush which is indigenous to South America, and is related botanically to our holly plant. Mate is the only herbal infusion which contains stimulating caffeine and theobromine, similar to green and black tea. After harvesting and grading, the leaves and buds of Mate are briefly roasted over a wood fire to prevent them from turning black, then gently dried and cut. This process produces Green Mate, after which it can then be roasted a second time to produce a milder tasting variety, Roasted Mate.
In many parts of Latin America, Mate is a firm part of the way of life, and drunk throughout the day whenever people socialize. The traditional way of preparing it is in a Calebase, or mate bowl, which is made from a gourd, and is drunk very hot through a special metal straw with an integrated strainer, the Bombilla.
Mate has a fragrance midway between sweet and sour, with a touch of smokiness reminiscence of fresh wood. It is just easily prepared the “European” way, using a teapot and cups, but using a Calebase will greatly enhance its flavor as the Calebase ages.
The Indios believed that Mate has magical powers of allevating hunger, exhaustion and heat. These characteristics make Mate ideal as a beverage to complement a slimming diet, or after physical exercise. It is mildly stimulating and at the same time refreshing, a pleasant way of ensuring your vital liquid intake.
Summarized, Mate is a beverage that:
- contains antioxidants and nutritive values similar to green tea
- contains polyphenols that helps to strengthen the body’s natural defenses
- contains “mateine” which aids to relax muscles easing pains
- is not addictive, but is a mild stimulant of the central nervous system
- contains vitamins B-1, B-2, A, riboflavin, carotene, colin, pantothenic acid, inositol and 15 types of aminoacids
- contains a significant amount of potasssium, sodium and magnesium.
To cure the Calebase, or Mate Gourd:
Mate must be prepared using a cured mate gourd. Curing prepares the gourd and enhances the flavor of the infusion by imparting an aged taste after time. Therefore, it is important to first “cure” your Calebase before the first use. To do so, fill the gourd with mate, add hot water and let it infuse for a day. Always use pure, unflavored mate for this procedure! On the following day, discard the infusion, rinse the gourd and scrap off the soft inner tissues gently with a spoon. Repeat the process and infuse another batch of mate in the gourd for another day. Scrap off the inner tissues again on the following day, rinse, and your Calebase is now ready for use!
Caring for your Bombilla and Calebase:
After each use, simply rinse out the Calebase with hot water and let it air dry. To clean the Bombilla, or Mate Straw, unscrew the tip and rinse it out with hot water. Dry with a soft cloth and screw it back tightly. It’s that easy!
Polyphenols – J. Carper, 1988
Mateine – Yerba Mate: Unequaled Natural Nutrition by Dr. Daniel B. Mowrey, PhD.
Vitamins – F. Alikaridis, 1987
Potassium, sodium and magnesium – Tenorio Sanz, Torija Isasa, 1991