I have been around yerba mate all my life. Over 10 years ago I started drinking it regularly and it captured my imagination and has fueled my quest to learn and understand the herb, the culture and it benefits.
On my recent trip to the International Yerba Mate Festival in Apostoles Misiones, the Capital of the mate drinking world, I had an opportunity to meet and speak with many people who yerba mate is their livelihood.
I spoke with agronomists, soil experts, irrigation engineers, growers, pickers and every one of them was a daily mate drinker.
Mate is a way of life for many people in the northern Argentina, southern Brazil and Paraguay.
As the energy drink of choice, many South Americans drink this healthy infusion the only way they know how, in a gourd that has been discharged and hollowed and consumed through a filtered straw, a bombilla. The ritual is second nature to most but it is steeped in a great tradition.
You place a small amount (about 5-7 tablespoons) of the herb inside of your gourd. The gourd will dictate the amount. You moisten the herb inside the gourd with warm water and when the herb has absorbed the warm water and is wet you place the bombilla inside the gourd in the herb and you pour hot, not boiling water.
The water should never be boiled. The experts at Las Marias the manufacturer of Taragui Mate told me the water should never be hotter than 75 degrees Celsius or about 165 degree Fahrenheit.
The herb has naturally occurring vitamins A, B1, B2, and vitamin C and Magnesium and Calcium. One of the most favorable qualities of this infusion is that it is Alkaline by nature, so when you drink the infusion it has an alkalizing effect. It is a strong anti-oxidant and a great mood elevator.
I spoke at length and interview many people there and I was amazed at the confidence that everyone from the soil experts to the tareferos which are the men and women who pick the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis tree have about the qualities and the soundness of drinking this infusion.
I visited several local manufacturers and through the verification of certificates was assured the standard practices that the INYM which is the Yerba Mate National Institute and the Argentine Agriculture Department which oversees and regulates the industry were being followed.
I drink it every day and I recommend it without reservations to everyone that is looking for an alternative to other energy drinks.