For those of you who’ve had mate, especially the traditional way in a gourd with a bombilla, you will find this to be very interesting.
Traditional mate looks very much like the tea you find in teabags – essentially a fine tea powder. Except mate also has larger chunks of leaf and twigs mixed in. In a way, it feels like a poor man’s tea. However, good mate is delicious, and because of the texture and the traditional manner of drinking it, it is a very fun experience. Who cares that it’s not first flush, hand rolled, or whatever!
This mate is very different; first of all the loose leaf smelled and looked like a dark oolong. We tried putting it in our metal-lined gourd and drinking it through the bombilla, but it didn’t work very well. Because it was mostly whole leaves, (so strange to see whole mate leaves, instead of the powder!), it didn’t have that same resistance when drunk through the bombilla, it didn’t actually steep very well. It did taste like mate, but wasn’t very strong and somewhat watery.
So we dumped the leaves in a normal teapot and brewed it as if it was a somewhat normal tea, 180-190 degrees for 5 minutes.
It came out with a very interesting taste. I actually think the H&S description (above) is fairly accurate in its flavors. It tasted more roasted than a normal mate, had some slightly sweet and fruity flavors, but is hard to describe.
This was a fun experience, but really a completely different product than typical mate. I bought just a sample, and I’m not sure I would buy more, but not because I didn’t like the tea. I just love the normal, earthy flavor of mate, and prefer drinking it from the gourd. The guy who had the idea to produce mate this way was very clever, I really love the creativity. Now to get him to try steaming the leaves and making it Japanese style!