From coffee-junkie to a mate-connoisseur
For years I was addicted to coffee. The word “addicted” has a negative connotation, but this word best describes the situation.
Coffee is tasty and awakening – there’s no question about that – but those who drink coffee often know its negative side effects: nervousness, anxiety, a strong desire to speak, speak and speak, your heart beats faster, there’s irritation in your stomach from the bitter substance and your hands tremble. Another negative consequence of overconsumption is that you can’t sleep and your body becomes over-acidified.
Even though I knew that coffee harmed the body, I still drank up to 6 cups a day during “hard times.” A day without coffee was hard to imagine. I needed coffee to get going in the morning, wake up and recharge my batteries during the day. Nothing worked without coffee.
Coffee was just as fully integrated into my daily routine as it was with other’s. When you meet friends, you enjoy going out to drink a cup of coffee together. For cakes and desserts, coffee is often served and in the office, a coffee machine is practically part of the inventory; I’m sure it’s difficult to find a workplace without one. Drinking coffee no doubt connects people, and, at the time, I couldn’t imagine replacing it with another drink.
My first Yerba Mate experience
While hanging out at a food festival two months ago, I became acquainted with a healthy alternative to coffee: Yerba Mate. There was a company, “Caamate,” which sold their mate products at the festival. My husband and I learned about their mate, and bought a mate set consisting of 500g of Erva Mate, as well as the traditional calabash and bombilla. For the uninitiated, the calabash is the drinking vessel made from a bottle gourd, and the bombilla is a drinking straw often made from stainless steel.
While at the festival, the people at the Caamate booth presented several varieties of mate to us. We chose the Erva Mate variety, because it’s characterized by a silky, fresh, grassy and full character. This blend gets its slightly grassy taste by modern drying methods and a subsequent maturation period of about 2 years.
The leaves and branches come from wild tree populations in Southern Brazil, are pesticide-free and thrive in the shade of other trees. The yerba is freshly processed, and the drying is done with more modern methods which don’t bring the leaves in contact with fire a smoke, thus creating its slightly grassy character.
I have to say that, at first, I was not convinced enough to replace coffee with mate. Given that I hadn’t tried it yet, the thought of it was unimaginable to me. But after my first sip of mate, I was convinced. I liked the slightly bitter taste it. This mate tasted pleasantly fresh and grassy. Like coffee, mate also contains caffeine, but works differently. The effect is milder and more pleasant.
How do I prepare my yerba mate?
I fill the calabash halfway with yerba. Then I put my hand on the mouth of the calabash and shake it 2 to 3 times, back and forth. When you take your hand off the mouth of the calabash, you’ll see fine, dusty remains on your palm; I simply wipe them off. With the yerba resting on one side, and the calabash held at about a 45-degree angle, I fill up the open (empty) part of the calabash halfway with hot (not boiling) water, and allow it to stand for 2 minutes. Then, I hold the mouthpiece of the bombilla with my thumb, and insert it under the yerba. Afterwards, I pour 65 to 80-degree Celsius water in the hole I poured the previous water into, so that the leaves resting on the side of the calabash remain dry.
For breakfast, I drink my first mate. And during the morning, I top off the calabash again and again with more hot water. To do this, I fill up a thermos with hot water and continue to pour it into my calabash throughout the day until it’s done. The special thing about drinking mate is the act of drinking it out of a calabash and through the bombilla – this is truly unique. On weekends, I drink mate with my husband, from one calabash, and we celebrate the matriarchal tradition of shared enjoyment.
I have already tested mate products from other companies, but nothing is better than the products of Caamate. The fact that the leaves have no contact with fire and smoke, but are air-dried, gives the mate an extraordinary, natural taste. I will gradually test other mate varieties from Caamate.
Yerba Mate – my new stimulant
I have successfully exchange my coffee addiction for the stimulant of Yerba Mate, and feel much better. Mate is stimulating, invigorates the body and mind and, on top of this, is healthy. It has a cleansing effect, and contains loads of antioxidants. It stimulates the nerves, muscles and metabolism and aids the body through offsetting depression, obesity, fevers, cravings, headaches, rheumatic pains, circulatory insufficiencies, upset stomachs, fatigue, constipation and more. But what’s best is that mate isn’t addicting (unlike coffee).
Of course, when I’m working in my office, I also have my calabash and bombilla there. When I drink mate, I’m more focused and efficient at work. It stimulated me without making me nervous, and it’s also good for my stomach, since I don’t experience any of the typical stomach issues I had with coffee.
I recommend every coffee lover to give mate a try and consider replacing coffee with this healthy alternative.
Jacqueline Schröder (www.veganandlife.blog)