A little Dutch girl and Yerba Mate
Once upon a time, there was a Dutch girl who was a big lover of tea; she loved to drink it in any and every flavor. But little did she know that there was a wonderful tea-like drink in the world called “Yerba Mate.” If you couldn’t already guess, I am this girl, and although I only started drinking Yerba Mate not very long ago, I was hooked from my first sip. Allow me to tell you why I love it so much.
Until the beginning of this year, I did not even know what Yerba Mate was. It all started when I was on a work visit in Madrid, where one of my co-workers in the office was drinking from a weird-looking cup with a straw I had never seen anywhere before. Curious as I was, I asked what she was drinking, and she told me about Yerba Mate; what kind of drink it is, where it comes from, how beneficial it is for your health and, of course, how to prepare and drink it. Since she had a cold, I couldn’t share any with her, but I was immediately interested.
A grandmother’s warmth
I have been a lover of tea since I was a little girl. For me, tea is associated with coziness, warmth, comfort and long conversations when drinking it with someone else. I can spend hours just chatting over a nice cup of tea (okay, not one cup, more like three or four). I grew up in a family of tea drinkers. When my mom was a child, my grandmother was always home, and when my mom got out of school, they would sit at the dinner table with a pot of tea and a plate of cookies, talking about her day. When I grew up, my grandmother did the same with me after I got out of school, while my mom was working.
When I have the day off, and it is a particularly gray and rainy day, I love nothing more than to curl up on my couch, under a blanket, and with a big thermos of tea while watching my favorite TV shows. To me, that is the definition of ultra relaxation.
When my co-worker told me about Yerba Mate, and how friends drink it together while having good conversation, I had the same exact feeling that I get from drinking regular tea, but mate sounded better. It was then I knew I had to by my own set.
My first gourd of Yerba Mate
Since I couldn’t find a physical store selling Yerba Mate, I started looking on the Internet for a place where I could buy it. I eventually found a place and decided to buy a ceramic gourd, since they’re easier to clean and easier to store. I fell in love with the Aztec patterned gourd below.
After buying a gourd and bombilla, the hardest part began; choosing which kind of Yerba Mate to buy! There were so many choices, I almost did not know where to start. Since I like fruity flavors, I ended up looking into the flavored brands, and decided to buy one type of Yerba Mate that had lemons in it, and another with pomelos.
With my first gourd of Yerba Mate, I decided to go with the lemon-flavored brand. I prepared it, then got myself comfy on the couch, ready for my first sip. One I had it, I was pleasantly surprised! I had read stories about mate being extremely bitter, but, in my opinion, it was not so bad; maybe it depends on how familiar you are to bitter flavors. I loved the earthy, bitter taste paired with the lemon. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a nice cup of fruit-flavored tea, but the flavor I experienced of Yerba Mate and lemon was much deeper, and more natural. Now, whenever I want to sweeten my mate up a bit, I love adding a little bit of honey. The combination of lemony mate and honey is one of my all-time taste combinations.
While I love drinking mate with a gourd and bombilla, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re in a hurry. It takes longer to prepare than your regular cup of tea, and I think it isn’t meant to be hastily slurped away before grabbing your coat to leave the house; unless, that is, you plan to take your mate “on-the-go.” However, I have never seen anyone in the Netherlands drinking it on-the-go.
The comfort of Yerba Mate
I love drinking Yerba Mate in the evenings when I come home from work and don’t have any plans, or on those lazy weekends where all you have to do are some things around the house. I also enjoy drinking it when I’m studying. I love how it makes me feel sharper and more energetic while study, but, at the same time, doesn’t make me toss and turn in the when I am trying to sleep.
Occasionally, I drink a cup of coffee because I love the taste of a really great cappuccino, even though coffee sometimes makes me nauseous. For me, Yerba Mate has the same benefits as coffee, but without the nausea!
I store my gourd and bombilla, along with my collection of special teacups and mugs, in a cabinet with a glass window. People are always curious about what kind of “mug” my gourd is. I love to share the story of Yerba Mate, and then make them a gourd for us to share together. Because that’s what’s best about Yerba Mate; it’s even better when shared with friends.