Mate leaves have their origin in South America, specifically in the land that nowadays covers parts of countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and the south of Brazil.
Guaranis, in particular, played an essential role in the distribution and use of mate leaves. They were one of the native groups who lived in this land and used the leaves of the plant to make a beverage that they considered energizing and beneficial for one’s health. The beverage was made by infusing dry, ground mate leaves in hot water.
Throughout the centuries, its use spread and became a tradition rooted in the culture of many countries of South America, especially in Argentina, where brewing and drinking mate, alone or in company, made it a national beverage and an important part of everyday life and sociability.
In our country, we also give the name mate to the container where we brew the infusion. It is generally made of pumpkin or wood turned in different ways and with different decorations whose sole purpose is to embellish and customize the mate.See our mates
How to cure our mate
- Put wet mate leaves at room temperature in the gourd for 24 hours (it can be used mate leaves).
- Afterwards, empty the gourd and scrape its interior with a spoon to remove its peel (fibrous membrane that is inside the gourd).
- Do this again the following day with warm water, and the third day with hot water, we suggest between 70 and 80ºC at the most. Each day, scrape the gourd with a spoon until there is nothing left to remove.
- If you like, once you have removed all the peel, you can pour whisky or brandy into the gourd, soak it well and light a flame to smoke it. It must be done carefully in order not to burn the gourd. This process will give the infusion a very special flavor.
- The mate must not be washed.
- After using it, dry it with a paper napkin and leave another one inside so it can absorb any remaining moisture.
- We suggest not filling the mate to the brim, that is to say, making sure that the water does not reach the point where the gourd and the metal ferrule join.
- The ferrule is only decorative.
How to brew mate
The art of brewing mate well has several steps:
- Put some dry mate leaves in the gourd, filling approximate 2/3 of its capacity.
- We suggest arranging the mate leaves by tilting the gourd so the leaves are gathered in a corner, forming a sort of mountain. This allows us to put the straw in the mate more easily and to make better use of the mate leaves. Once a mound has formed in a corner of the mate, pour cold or warm water on the visible part of mate leaves so that they form a sort of retaining wall when they absorb the water.
strawin the mate at an angle, trying not to move it too much to keep the filter from getting clogged by loose leaves.
- Pour hot water into the gourd (usually at approximately 70 or 80ºC) in the place where the straw is, making sure that the water does not cover the wall of mate leaves that you formed. The primer, the person who brews the mate, must take the first sip to clean the straw and to make sure that it is working well.
- The primer shares the mate with the other people in the group. Each person drinks the mate until they hear the sound of suction, which means that they drank all the water, and gives it back to the primer to pour hot water again and share the mate with everybody.
Brewed mate is more than a simple beverage; it is a symbol of camaraderie and friendship. The ritual of sharing mate is a chance to socialize and to connect with our people.
The mate (Ilex Paraguariensis) is a tree from the Iguazu Jungle whose leaves and branches are used to make the popular mate.
It is a subtropical tree that, in the wilderness, grows as part of the underbrush in the Alto Parana and Alto Paraguay basins and the tributaries of the Paraguay River. In the wilderness, it can be up to 15-meter tall, whereas in plantations, it is pruned and kept short to make the harvest easier.
It is a perennial tree and its leaves do not fall in the autumn, they last around 3 years in the plant. Its leaves are green with a jagged edge and very noticeable yellowish nervation.
During the flowering period (October-November), it grows whitish flowers; since it is a dioecious tree, there is male mate that has groups of 3-11 flowers and female mate with groups of three flowers or only one flower. Between January and March, the fruit reaches maturation and turns violet, reddish or blackish.
Each plant grows for at least six to ten years until its branches are in condition to be pruned to start the process of making the mate that we drink.
PROPIEDADES MEDICINALES DE LA YERBA MATE
It has xanthines (caffeine, theobromine, theophylline), bioactive compounds that stimulate the central nervous system and mental activity. They also increase the energy and concentration levels.