Tasting Yerba Mate
Still trying to cling to your Dry January? Consider perhaps a mug of yerba mate (or more correctly, just mate), the tea-like beverage made from the yerba mate plant.
Born in Paraguay and native throughout a large part of South America (especially Argentina), mate is described by its proponents as “an antioxidant rich tea packed with a variety of health benefits, is a super ingredient to add a boost to any recipe. Not only can it save you from a caffeine crash (contains more caffeine than matcha or green tea), but it does so without the coffee jitters and is associated with mental clarity and focus. Additionally, studies suggest that Yerba Mate can help accelerate metabolism and help with body detox.”
Mate is packaged in prepacked teabags and it also comes in loose leaf form, which is traditionally prepared in a funky gourd and consumed through a straw with a filter at the bottom, preventing the leaves from being ingested. Mate is traditionally consumed hot, but obviously the makers of Guayaki Yerba Mate, which sells it as a ready-to-drink canned beverage, have successfully made a case for drinking it cold. Add ice if that’s your jam.
I tried a variety of types of (hot) mate and found them all to be earthier, less herbal-rich spins on traditional black tea. My favorite version of the product was made by Playadito, which melds a mushroomy base with hints of citrus notes and a lightly bittersweet conclusion. I also found a slightly sweeter version of the drink, from Argentine Yerba Mate, to be quite agreeable, particularly earlier in the day. There are tons of brands of mate on the market, though, so try a few to find the flavor that suits you perfectly.
I didn’t try making any cocktails with yerba mate, but I can see how it would work. Tequila and pisco are natural companions to these flavors, but gin, vodka, and rum are used by some creative bartenders.
And of course, you can always drink it straight. After all, the kids lugging all those yellow cans around must be on to something…
Try a variety of Yerba Mate products by checking out this Yerba Mate sampler on Amazon.