Gather round young ones, children of the plains, mis gauchitos, and I’ll tell you a tale of maté and might, of lone warriors sipping bitter tonics from hollowed out gourds before being sent off to the battle that is their lives!
Yerba maté, the Argentinian national drink, is a green concoction, a bitter herb similar to coffee or tea if only for its stimulant properties. All Argentines young and old can be seen sporting designer maté kits about town, sipping the strange brew from hollowed out gourds or fancy silver cups bedazzled with jewels. A good mate kit will contain a maté cup or suitable chalice, some herb, a bombilla, and a thermos. Add bonus points for an attractive leather case which holds everything within.
While the reality of sipping said tonic is a sad one indeed for most (the taste is bitter and one to be aquired) the ritual of maté preparation is a fine one indeed.
…a primer for delving into your own personal maté madness:
1. Put on a tea kettle.
2. Whilst your water is heating up, decant your chosen brand of yerba maté into your most favorite gourd or maté chalice about 3/4 of the way to the top. Put your hand over the top of your cup and then turn it upside down and shake it a few times. This mixes up the maté and helps to get rid of some of the herbal dust, which will stick to your sweaty palm (don’t be so nervous!). Creepy porteños (ciudadanos of Buenos Aires) like to mix in sugar with their maté, but this should be considered sacrilege to all true maté aficionados and may anger the Gods. You have been warned.
3. Let your water come to a boil, remove your kettle from the burner, and ready your thermos. Just like with coffee, you want to let your water cool for a moment before brewing your maté. Water that is too hot will just spoil everything.
4. There are a couple odd variants for getting this right. One is to fill your maté cup with cool water first to wet the herb and make sure that it is not imparted a bitter taste by the hot, hot water. In truth, we feel this to be an unnecessary step and one that yields a first cup of cold drink, which tastes terrible. Better to place your bombilla, or metal sipping straw, into the mate first, decanting the hot water down it’s length to cool it a bit before it strikes your precious herb. See: Brady’s dad.
5. And there you have it, your maté is ready to be sipped. Go ahead and continue to add water as needed from your thermos. Keep in mind that some say it sacrilege to wet the herb fully, and to never let the water rise above the level of the herb itself. I consider this to be a good rule of thumb and one that produces the most precious drink. But…do as thou wilt because it’s really just some variant of tea. Best or better to impart your own variant of the mate ritual on the cosmic game.
There are a whole bunch of other rules for sharing your mate if your in a group but…c’mon, why do you people have to share everything? It’s not like sip sip pass with coffee in the states. What’s next? Soup? A singular lollipop? An ice cream cone?
Well, it’s a party y’all