Have you ever seen someone sipping a hot liquid through a straw from a mysterious silver gourd?
If so, this person was probably enjoying mate, which is a traditional South American beverage that is particularly popular and beloved in the countries of the Southern Cone region: Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, and some parts of Brazil.
Mate is a drink which is brewed from the leaves of the yerba mate shrub. The indigenous Guaraní and Tupí communities in what is now Paraguay were the first people to use the leaves from this shrub to make what is now known as mate.
The dried leaves from the plant are chopped and ground up into a powdery mixture and then placed in a pot along with hot, but never boiling, water, and the beverage steeps in a way that is very similar to tea.
After a few minutes of brewing time, the beverage is ready to drink. The traditional vessel for mate is a gourd-shaped vase, and people drink it through a straw which contains a filter so that the powdery dried leaves aren’t drunk.
While many people think that mate is bitter and tough to drink, others would simply say that it is an acquired taste, much like coffee. Its high caffeine content and levels of antioxidants are raved about by the many enthusiasts of the beverage.
Have you ever tried mate? What did you think?