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Yerba Mate

ARGENTINA | Thursday, 17 October 2019 | Views [42]

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate

As it is another rainy day and alas my hostel's tour was cancelled...again, Luciana, the hostel's cultural attache, offered to teach me all about Yerba Mate (pronounced Cherba matay).  Drinking yerba mate is an Argentinian past-time that is taken very seriously.  Similar to a green tea, the infusion is derived from a tree of the same name found in the forests of Argentina, Uraguay and Chile. The history is as follows:

"The origins of yerba mate come from the Guaraní natives, who used its leaves as a drink, cult and currency in their exchanges with other prehistoric cultures.

“Caá” means  weed in Guaraní, but it also means plant and forest. For the Guarani, the yerba mate tree is the tree par excellence, a gift from the gods.

The conquerors learned from the Guarani the use and virtues of yerba mate, and made its consumption extraordinarily disseminated from their area of origin to all the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.

Later the Jesuits introduced its cultivation in large reductions .They were responsible for yerba mate was known in the civilized world.

The tradition of drinking mate has remained unchanged  since ancient times and for 5 centuries of history, increasingly taking root and spreading to distant places." (Yerbamateargentina.org)

While yerba mate can be prepared in any vessel available, it is traditionally made in a flask made of wood on the inside. The bark is placed inside (almost filling the flask) and water added to its edge. Using a rmetal rod infuser that looks very much like a straw, the infusion is stirred and sipped.  When the water is gone it is filled again and passed to the next person.  Did I mention it is a drink tradionally shared? Like tradional Chinese tea ceremonies, there is the person responsible for filling the mate (flask) and to whom the flask is returned after finishing your turn.

Admittedly the first taste is bitter.  However, with subsequent pouring of water it mellows.

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