How my Yerba Mate journey started
My Yerba Mate journey all started with a woman named Sofía, the current wife of my brother. We used to often drink mate in the campo my mother had, where we would go on vacations, weekend trips or whenever else we felt like it.
When I first had Yerba Mate, I didn’t like it because it was too amargo. But with time, I started to enjoy its bitterness. And whenever I drank it with my sister-in-law and brother, Vicente, the atmosphere was always amazing; we would read books, cook delicious meals and bake tasty treats all while drinking mate.
The whole act of drinking Yerba Mate, as well as the atmosphere surrounding it, was very different to a teenager like me who mostly played videogames with friends and ate a lot.
Yerba Mate and music
When I began learning to play the drums, my teacher Fernando used to cebarme unos mates, so we would drink it frequently during sessions. Fernando’s a very passionate guy, and our sessions were always a bit intense given that he made me practice and practice new techniques and music until my brain started to burn. So, drinking mate during practice breaks was like a holy blessing to my being.
As time went on, I bought a couple of gourds, started trying different brands and learned how to prepare it like a professional.
I enjoy drinking Yerba Mate because it’s something you share with people, and sharing mate with a person or a group allows for a deeper connection to form between you and them; it generates something special.
But if I drink it alone, then I consider mate to be my “partner,” especially when I’m practicing my instruments. Given that I play the guitar and cello, I drink Yerba Mate to bring focus and consistency to the ritual of my practices. It grounds me, and always helps me to play better. It supports me and has become a part of my practice ritual. When I drink it, it keeps me motivated and practicing my music with Yerba Mate is another world compared to a session with coffee, tea or water. But with that said, I don’t start every session with mate, because sometimes I’m already “green” and don’t want to further saturate my body with mate, ha!
Every Yerba Mate gourd has a story
As I grew older, I began buying new gourds from the different places I’d travel to; each one would remind me of the lands I’d visit, and now, whenever I drink mate, I take my time selecting a gourd to use. After a few years, I collected about nine or ten of them, but when I moved to Cordoba, I gave majority of them away to close friends, while keeping four of them. The reason I gave most of them away is because I had to be selective with the things I brought with me, and nine gourds felt excessive. So, I chose to give some of them away to people I knew would appreciate them.
In terms of types of Yerba Mate, some of my favorites are from Uruguay and Brasil. Brasil’s chimarrao-style of Yerba Mate fascinates me, and I ended up buying two speciality gourds with some money I made solely through playing Brazilian tunes in the squares of Alegrette and Uruguiana. So everytime I use them, there’s a little bit of extra magic because of the love and hard work that I put into my music, which manifested itself into money for the gourds that I drink out of it; a truly beautiful cycle.
Traveling with a Yerba Mate gourd is also very special and handy, especially now that I know how to properly cebar mates. And if I’m traveling in Argentina or somewhere else in Latin America, there’s a pretty good chance that the pilot of whatever plane I’m on wants to drink some mates, too!
As for flavour and health, I’ve recently started to experiment adding yuyos (plants) to my mates, such as cedrón, menta, melisa, poleo and jaramago. I also sometimes add maca and coconut.
In conclusion, Yerba Mate is awesome and really helps me to connect with myself, with friends and with my music.