Given the fact that I was born in Argentina, I believe it’s not necessary to tell you that since I was very little I became acquainted with mate. However, it was not until my 16th birthday that I started to drink this wonderful beverage that identifies us Argentine and South American people so much.
Back then- when I was a little boy- I had no idea as to what mate meant for people in my country. I didn’t even know what it meant to me. I just thought it was a “sort of a green tea with a bitter taste” and never really felt the urge to try it.
I remember the day of my birthday I decided to invite a few of my schoolmates to my house so we could chat and I could give them to try some of my mom’s favorite cake (which is –of course- my favorite too). The “Pastafrola,” a very famous cake here in South America. So, there was me and my friends chatting about different topics, when a very close friend of mine told me: “Why don’t you prepare some mates?” I was like, “What?” “Never in my life have I drank mate and this guy wants me to prepare it, no way!” Eventually, they persuaded me to do it. That’s how a long-time friendship began. A friendship, which have lasted up to these days.
Whenever I feel sad or when I want to think about life, even after breakfast or when I got to my grandparents house in the countryside; mate is there to accompany me. I’ve always thought mate wasn’t my kind of “thing”. However, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that, even though mate is very similar to tea, it has many other characteristics that make it unique and that’s why it attracts peoples so much.
To me, mate is the excuse to gather with friends to talk about what’s going on their lives. Mate, helps you start you days in an extremely vigorous way. But mate is not only that, mate is a beverage with a lot of history. When the Spanish Jesuits came to South America and met the native people who would drink a lot of this beverage saw a potential opportunity to commercialize it. That’s partly the reason why mate became a symbol of cultural identity in S.A.