What can I say about Mate? A lot.
What can I say about the mate, the yerba, in relation to my life? Well, a lot. The first thing is that it arrived a little late. I mean, a little late to my house, where I lived as a child. Growing up, I did not drink mate. I remember one anecdote: an employee who lived in another province worked there and drank mate by herself. When I turned 10 years old, she asked me what I wanted as a gift, and I said, almost without thinking, “mate.” This was because I had a ton of curiosity from seeing her drinking mate every day whenever taking a break. And so, I had my first gourd, with the face of a gaucho, and its corresponding bombilla. But my enthusiasm quickly ran out. Only until the woman who originally gave it to me laughed at me when she saw the water boiling in a kettle, just like my parents did to prepare tea or coffee.
It was not until several years later, when I changed high schools, that it became a habit; and I did not leave it anymore. At that school, where we spent the morning and afternoon, we almost always drank mate at recesses, including those that lasted an hour, after lunch, right in the field, in some special classes and during other activities. We drank it however we wanted; sometimes tasty, sometimes lavado (as we call it after a lot of cycles: yerba loses taste, and it’s just hot water with some chopsticks floating, with the type of yerba we use in Argentina).
Then, in years of university, I shared an hour of study with a Uruguayan colleague, from whom I learned several points about the technique of preparation: placing the yerba, dumping the water, using the thermos. Techniques that I think are valuable enough to know in order for the mate to have a good flavor and duration.
My faithful companion
Today, mate accompanies me daily: at home, at work, at meetings, with family, and with friends. I prefer it bitter, and if possible in calabash (porongos) mates, preferably with a wide mouth; although I also have wood, ceramic, and even metal, glass and plastic mates.
I take it every day, mainly at work. Also many times in my house, and when I drive by car it is an indispensable companion to keep me awake (obviously depending on how I prepare it). If I go on a trip, I always carry my thermos, a mate with a bombilla, and yerba. If the trip is abroad, even more; I have taken my mate equipment to Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, France, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Chile.
My personal history with yerba mate
In recent years, through professional contact I have had with people from the provinces of the Northeast of Argentina and Paraguay – very hot places, by the way – I have started drinking tereré: the famous iced mate; especially on very hot days or when I travel to areas of high temperatures. This infusion also has several ways of preparing it (with squeezed natural juice of lemon, grapefruit or orange, with dissolved powdered juices, with flavored waters), and I personally prefer the one used by the Paraguayans: very frozen water, with a lot of ice, and blended yerba, which is to say, a blend that, in addition to the yerba mate, contains aggregates of other herbs (for example: pennyroyal, mint, cedrón, thyme).
I have a collection of around twenty mates, which can be used at any time, as well as a few that were deteriorating due to heavy usage. There are also others which I solely use as adornment for my house.
This is my personal history with mate, which I intend to continue writing for many more years.