Mate or yerba mate is a traditional drink from South America. It comes from a bush or small tree (Ilex paraguariensis), which thrives in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay.
The leaves of the bush are dried and then are cut creating a coarsely ground powder called yerba, and then it is steeped into warm water.
Mate is said to have the properties of tea, the power of coffee and the pleasure deriving from chocolate.
It is the favorite drink of the people n South America and the last years it has become popular worldwide because of its properties:
- It is very rich in caffeine and antioxidants
- It provides energy and increases concentration
- It helps in the burning of fat if consumed before exercise
- It boosts the immune system.
Mate has its own production vessels.
Calebasse or calabash or gourd. It is a traditional vessel made by a pumpkin species in which a stainless ring is introduced around the mouth. There are also ceramic, glass and metal vessels for mate.
The straw for mate is widely known as bombilla. In the past it was made by silver, however, straws from bamboo and stainless steel have become popular recently. One of its characteristics is that it has small holes at the base which help you drink it without swallowing the leaves.
The production method is very simple. Calebasse is filled with warm water (not boiling hot though which can make it bitter) and then you put the drink in it. It can be consumed directly from the straw and you can add water to the same leaves several times.
How to prepare the traditional pumpkin
Traditional Calebasse can be easily prepared before it is ready to use.
1. We dampen with warm water and then we remove from the inside, carefully with a spoon, the residues around it. We must be careful in order not to damage the inside of the pumpkin.
2. Optionally, you can also rub the inside with salt, which acts as a disinfectant.
3. We fill the pumpkin with used, damp mate (alternatively we put already used tea leaves) and we leave it like this for 3-4 hours. Be careful not to put any water because that can make the leaves swell and crack the pumpkin. Only damp leaves.
4. It is ready to use. We remove the leaves and we dry with a cloth.
Note: When you finish using it you should clean it and let it upside down in order to dry, without any water in it.
How to prepare a wooden pumpkin
Here the preparation is even simpler.
1. We apply oil or butter on the inside.
2. We fill the pumpkin with already used, damp mate (alternatively we can put used tea leaves) and we let it like this for 3-4 hours. Be careful not to put any water because that can make the leaves swell and crack the pumpkin. Only damp leaves.
3. We clean it and it is ready to use.
Ceramic and stainless vessels do not need any preparation before use, just a simple cleaning.
1. We add 2-5 spoons of mate of our choice in the pumpkin.
2. We wet the leaves with cold water, just to make them a little damp.
3. We fill with warm water (not boiling hot).
4. We put the straw and consume.
5. When water finishes we can add more several times.
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