Yerba Mate tea gatheringTea is love affair of mine and it does takes a sort of dedication and ritual to brew the first batch of the day. It got me thinking about the similar ritual of Yerba Mate and how its so central in South America, specifically in Argentina.
I am writing to you all today on a fine winter’s afternoon enjoying Yerba Mate traditionally in a calabash gourd. This method of consumption was first pioneered with the Guaranis of South America who also grew yerba mate. It soon caught on with the pioneering European immigrants who have adopted it as part of their daily ritual of drinking mate out of a gourd.
Words can not describe how much a gourd brings out all the flavors of the mate and the gourd to produce a delightful and uplifting drink! Its all due to the process of curing and preparing the gourd, which takes a few days after soaking the insides with water and some yerba mate. The insides are then scooped out and the gourd is ready for use able to take on hot water without cracking or leaking. A day or two of hassle is all worth it as the yerba drink it self is smooth and slightly sweet as the gourd has absorbed much of essence of the yerba and incorporated to its own(a smoky flavor is also found if the gourd itself is fired cured).
Not much is needed to accompany the yerba drink, an optional sugar to mask the bitterness or citrus really goes well with yerba. But when it comes to own in the share of company really completes the yerba mate experience. Among a circle of friends, a host is solely responsible to treat the guest but not to consume. Starting from the host, the gourd is pass around the Fongon (literally a circle friends) each taking a sip until the yerba mate turns flat. The entire process can lasts up to hours on end from the morning well into the midday with friends constantly chattering and sharing stories. Its really something that a plant can bring out the life out of the most mundane of a day!
I love yerba mate. I lived in Paraguay well before I got into tea but this was one of my favorite traditions. :)