Wednesday, 9 May 2012

How to prepare yerba mate

Here in the UK mate is still a very mysterious drink. It has baffled many a friend of ours who visits, most of them upon seeing this strange object in our kitchen, think we're smoking something rather dodgy! After having to assure many people that it is only an innocent beverage and nothing more untoward, I decided it may be time to do a post on the subject, not only to explain exactly what mate is, but how to prepare and enjoy it too!

So, tonight I have a very special guest blogger on Ele's Kitchen, my husband, Will. Will is author of two blogs, Culture THIS!, which is dedicated to all things fermented, and The Ethics of Mass Eating, an ethical eating blog bringing you updates of the work he is carrying out for his book of the same name!

Not only is he a great blogger, he also happens to be half Argentine. Being brought up drinking mate with his family, I could think of no better person to tell you how to prepare and enjoy this healthful and tasty drink!

So a bit of background for you....Mate is a popular drink that is consumed in many parts of South America, not just in Argentina. In some countries it is drunk cold, sometimes flavoured with orange or lemon or other more exotic flavourings. In Argentina it is usually consumed hot, using a milder tasting version with leaves and stems which is often sweetened, in the method that we're about to show you.

In the UK, you might see it in tea bag form in some health food shops, but it is VERY hard to track down in its loose form here, and even harder to find the gourd and bombilla to drink it from! Luckily you can source it on line now so it is available if you fancy giving it a go, and something I think will take off here as an alternative to green tea. It is very similar in taste, though a little stronger than green tea, and has many antioxidant benefits. It is also claimed to help with a number of things such as weight loss, blood pressure and digestion. I cannot vouch for all its health claims, but can tell you for sure it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, and is a very sociable drink, so give it a try and let us know what you think!

If you'd like to try the loose form version of mate in this way, The Natural Grocery Store sells the tea instore and online here and you can buy the gourds and bombilla's here!

Note: you can keep topping the mate up with hot water as you go, it will be good for at least 7 top ups, ntil you lose the taste! 

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