Mate yerba, or yerba mate? what is yerba mate and what else do you really need to know about this hot commodity on the tisane block!
Chimarrao, Paraguay tea, or St. Bartholomew’s tea, whatever you call it, the essence remains the same. Yerba mate is a beverage made by brewing the leaves of the ilex paraguariensis plant, mostly grown in South American countries such as Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile. It is a drink which is gaining popularity especially in the Western countries due to its wonderful taste and myriad of health benefits.
The mate plant grows as a shrub and can reach up to 15 feet tall. Its leaves are evergreen and have small, white flowers. The leaves are used to make the herbal infusion but sometimes small stems are included. The leaves are dried and processed and packed as loose leaves or teabags to make the beverage.
Traditionally, yerba mate is brewed in a gourd, and drank using a metal filtered straw called a bombilla. It is shared among friends and is a symbol of bond and friendship. Today, yerba mate is sold in many restaurants, coffee shops and tea houses. It is also available in the market and sold in loose leaves and teabags. Bottled and ready to drink preparations are also available, which are mostly drunk ice cold. Yerba mate is commonly mixed with other herbs and fruits such as citrus to add flavor and taste. It can also be sweetened with sugar or honey, and can be added with milk, creating a yerba mate latte. One of my favorite base mates for this type of drink has got to be citrus mate as the citrus notes just really round out a nice latte 🙂