The first time I tried mate, I remember saying I that I hated it. It was too bitter. I had tried it in the past, only one or two small sips. Being from Argentina, seeing people with a mate gourd on their hands is a very common sight.
Years passed and my interest for this drink went cold. I never thought I would have an encounter with it again.
When I was eighteen, I became friends with an exchange student from Cipolletti, Argentina. He brought all of his traditions with him to his host family. One of them, of course was Yerba Mate. At that point in my life, I was mentally ready to try different things, explore and learn. I looked at the gourd, the bombilla and the yerba and it became interesting to me. Interesting enough to give it a shot one more time, knowing that it would probably taste nasty to me.
The only way I would even consider drinking it, was by adding tons of SUGAR. Yes. Sugar. I remember then, my friend’s expression when I added the sugar. The expression of someone fracturing a bone. The sugar helped me finish sipping away a few rounds for the first couple of weeks. Then, one day, less sugar was added. As the days went by, the bitterness was not much of a problem anymore. Finally, in later days, NO SUGAR was added. I was able to drink it as it was meant to be. Alone, straight out of the mate bag and into the gourd. A new true Matero was born that day. Mate had become such a big part of me and my daily routine.
Today, a few years have passed since that time and my love and passion for mate is bigger than ever. All that time, not only did I become a mate drinker, but also a respected cebador. Mate is so much more that a drink or infusion. It is my favorite part of any day, any time. It is what connects to me to my surroundings with crisp clarity. It is what reminds me of my family and friends from Argentina, who have yerba mate breath just like me through the day.
People who don’t know about mate may think of it as an addictive sort of drug. They may read all these posts and watch videos of people talking passionately about it and think we are totally addicted to it in some weird/bad way. I am certain that yerba mate is in no way addictive, like drugs or coffee. I myself have gone 2 or 3 weeks at a time, without drinking it and never even though about it during that span. It is NOT addictive. What it is, is that yerba mate is something one can understand and grow to love. It just makes no sense at all to stop drinking it. It is the . One drinks it because it is fun, it is healthy, no mental crash in involved. It is as “addictive” as water. You just need it and drink it because it’s there and that is all. =D