Last winter, I embarked on a two month backpacking adventure to Patagonia. Since then, I have adopted one of South America’s daily cultural practices of drinking yerba mate. Yerba mate is similar to an herbal green tea. In Argentina, Mate is always served from a cup made from a hollowed out gourd and sipped through a metal straw called a bombilla. Yerba mate does act as a stimulant, but its affects are different than coffee’s. Mate produces a feeling of more alertness rather than the jittery type of response coffee can give some people.
The neat thing about drinking yerba mate is the social aspect. One gourd full of mate is usally passed around a small group of people. The server of the mate, the cebador, is responsible for heating water to the right temperature. Water to steep mate should be hot, but never boiling. Cool water is often first poured over the yerba so the hot water will not shot shock it, burning valuable nutrients. The cebador is also responsible for refilling the gourd each time someone takes their turn of finishing it. If a recipient says “thankyou” the first time they finish a gourd of mate, it is considered disrespect implying that they do not want any more because the mate was prepared poorly.
Mate is very healthy seeing as it contains nutrients such as Vitamin C, Viatamin B1 & B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron… For all you mountain trekkers, mate is also said to help people cope with high elevation. Mate tastes great! Go adventure out and try some.
Adventure Out Intern