What is Yerba Maté?
Yerba Maté is a tea-like drink that is mainly drunk in South America. The drink is typical of southern Brazil and surrounding countries. Yerba’ stands for spice leaves and ‘Maté‘ for the cup from which one drinks Yerba, poured with hot water. Yerba is drunk through a straw called a Bombilla, and the cup is called the Kalebas.
Yerba Maté is brewed from the leaves and buds of the tree “Ilex paraguarensis“.
Drinking Yerba Maté
Yerba Maté owes its name to the traditional cup from which the Yerba is drunk. This drinking cup used to be a beautifully decorated, dried calabash, but nowadays they are made of all kinds of materials. In South America, it is still drunk from the special maté cup, where the tea is sucked through a metal straw, the bombilla.
Drinking Yerba Maté is as common in South America as drinking coffee and tea is in the rest of the world. Unlike coffee or tea, Yerba Maté is also nutritious and full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In cold weather the drink is served hot, but in hot weather Yerba Maté is often drunk cold.
The customs of drinking Yerba Maté
The man or woman of the house will fill the Kalebas with Yerba Maté and then make a hole in the middle with the bombilla into which water is poured. The water should not boil, but it must be heated. Then the Yerba Maté is left to settle for a while so that everything is mixed well, and the drink is drunk through the bombilla by the man or woman of the house. Then the man or woman of the house fills the Kalebas again with water (using the same herb) and allows visitors to drink, who in turn fill the Kalebas again once the Yerba Maté is finished.
Although this process implies a social hierarchy, drinking Yerba Maté together represents friendship and conviviality between those who drink the tea. Some people think that drinking from the same bombilla is unhygienic, but this fact makes sharing Yerba Maté an intense event. You share with those with whom you would like to share your soul.
Effects of Yerba Maté
This stimulating herb has the unique ability to awaken the mind without the nervousness and jitters associated with coffee. The native Guarani still prepare the tea today for health-promoting purposes. They use it to strengthen the immune system, purify and detoxify the blood, strengthen the nervous system, fight ageing, combat fatigue, boost the spirit, control the appetite, help lose weight, and combat weakness, stress and insomnia.