Everything You Need To Know To Make Yerba Mate Is Here!
It has been a while since I did a full How To on making Yerba Mate and it is at the top of my list of favorite rituals to share with people. That's how much I believe in this powerful, healing, and delicious drink. The history alone is so rich, but its simplicity is its magic.
Below I will share all the ways that you can enjoy and incorporate yerba into your lifestyle and daily routine. The process is both meditative and grounding as well as super simple to do.
The Traditional Way!
Drinking yerba mate with an actual mate (cup) and bombilla (metal straw) brings drinking yerba to a whole new level.
Traditionally, yerba mate tea is enjoyed out of a gourd called a mate, in which it is prepared by scooping the dried yerba leaves into the mate. Then hot, but not boiling, water is poured in. It is then sipped through a metal straw called a bombilla which has holes in it to let the liquid come through but filters out the tea leaves. The mate cup is traditionally made out of a natural gourd such as calabash. Today there are a variety of mates like glass, metal, stainless steel and silver.
Since most people want to know about the "how tos" I am going to explain that first and then I will go into details about each component.
This might all seem a bit complex the first time you do it, but I promise you, it will become routine and you will be able to set up the gourd in a few seconds.
Before we begin--
There are two important things I want to point out here!
One is that there are as many ways to prepare yerba mate as there are people enjoying it. I am going to go over my version of the "traditional" method. But the point is to make it your own, eventually. Make it in a way that you love.
The second is that you will often hear the term mate said in reference to yerba. Don't let that confuse you. People often refer to the drink as a mate, pronounced "mah-te". Rarely do you hear "pass me the gourd" but rather, pass me the mate. So, keep in mind, in this blog that is how I use the term.
How To Prep!
1. Heating Your Water
- Use filtered water as much as possible.
- Heat water until it steams.
- In a glass kettle, you will notice small little bubbles and steam coming out the top. If you own an electric kettle, the water will be ready when you start hearing the sound of the water bubbling.
- If the water is too hot, too much tanin will escape the yerba making it bitter, that is why temperature of the water is so important.
- Pour hot water into a thermos for consistent water temperature and allows for a narrow stream to be poured out.
- Sweeten Water (if you choose) add your stevia, honey or other product to the thermos.
***You’ll find all these authentic mate items in our shop!
2. Filling Your Mate
- Fill the mate with loose leaf yerba leaves about ¾ of the way full.
- Put your palm over the opening and shake so that the leaves mix well.
- Turn the mate right side up.
3. Adding Water to Your Mate
- Add a little room temperature water to one side of the mate.
- Then push the bombilla in.
- The bottom of the bombilla should touch the bottom of the mate cup.
- Fill mate with hot water and stop a few cm before the top.
- Now you are ready to sip through the bombilla.
- Drink all the liquid in the mate. Anything that is left will turn bitter. So, the idea is to pour right before you want to drink, and to pour only what you will drink.
- Pour, sip, repeat, and enjoy! You should get about 10 pours or more out of each filled gourd.
4. Cleaning The Mate
- Once the flavor has drained, take the wet leaves out of the gourd, rinse and you can even start again if you want.
- When you are done drinking yerba for the day, you will want to make sure the gourd is empty and rinsed. Then turn the gourd upright so the inside can dry properly overnight. If the gourd has wet leaves in it, or is wet too long, it will collect mold.
Once you follow these simple instructions (and you will get the hang of it quickly), you will fully understand why yerba mate is referred to as “The Gift of the Gods."
All The Components Of Yerba Mate!
To "cure" or "not to cure" your mate gourd. Here is what I think:
Curing the gourd makes the gourd more durable and water resistant. This also helps it become more resistible to cracks and fissures. There is much dispute over whether it is useful to "cure" your gourd or if it just naturally occurs over time. Either way, you will always want to dry your gourd over night. Dump out the used yerba leaves, rinse out, and then leave upright for the gourd to dry. Not doing this important step, leaves the gourd open to mold.
If you are interested in curing the gourd, do these easy steps.
1. Fill the gourd with used ground coffee.
2. Leave the grounds in the gourd for 24 hours.
3. Rinse out the grounds and leave upright to dry.
4. Once dry, it is ready to use. You do not have to do this again.
If your mate is made of glass, metal, or wood, most of the time, a good rinse is all that is needed with these products. Since they only ever have tea leaves and hot water in them, there is no need for an intense daily cleaning. Once every few days, you can use a mild soap and gentle sponge to wash. It is not recommended to put any of these in the dishwasher.
When heating the up the water, you only want it to steam and not boil. Any water that is too hot will “wash” the tea leaves and make for a very weak tea after a few servings. Pour water into a pitcher or thermos that allows for a narrow stream, as I mentioned above, to pour out into the mate. The slow narrow stream is important because it allows the yerba leaves to stay compact and settled around the bombilla, maintaining the delicious flavor with each severing.
If you have decided to sweeten the water, add stevia, honey or another product to the thermos so it melts and easily defuses into the yerba mate.
Pronounced "Y-air-baa". Yerba is the loose leaf herb used to drink in yerba mate. You use the word yerba when referring to the actual leaves. Fun fact, it is actually considered an insult to call yerba a tea. Saving you from total disgrace is also a part of my mission!
Yerba comes from a bush. The leaves and small branches are harvested and dried. Some companies actually smoke the leaves. There are different drying times and techniques all effecting the flavor of the yerba itself. Some brands are more acidic, some milder, some smokier and some sweeter. So, depending on what you get, the flavor does have a range.
While you definitely want to get a higher-grade yerba to avoid too acidic a blend (for example like our brand SoulMate Yerba), the rest is really up to taste and what you use to drink it. If you are going to use a mate and bombilla, the suggested authentic way, then a combination of leaves, sticks and a bit of powder is the ideal infusion.
A bombilla, pronounced "Bawm-bee-ya", is the metallic strainer straw used to drink yerba mate. Since yerba is a loose leaf herb, there needs to be something that separates the water from the leaves. That thing is a bombilla!
Now, there are literally thousands of different bombillas available to use. What is the best kind? The kind that you LOVE. For example, I have ones passed down to me from my father and some from my grandmother. I adore them and I feel their presence each time I hold one in my hands.
Here are a few clues to guide you with YOUR selection.
1. Choose a metal that won't rust, tarnish, or turn color.
2. Choose one that has a metal ring about an inch below the mouthpiece. This will help prevent the hot water from burning your tongue as the ring will absorb some of the heat.
3. Look for a study strainer at the end that can be easily cleaned.
4. The length of the bombilla should be determined by the size of the mate. In other words, you don't want your mate going over because your bombilla is too long.
This past year I was given a bombilla made in Uruguay. The mouthpiece is bigger allowing more water to come through and I love it! I share this story to let you know there are so many different types of bombillas to try and each one will give you a different feel. So, choose the one that feels the best for you!
What are the health benefits to yerba mate?
Let’s take a look at the different health benefeits yerba mate has all on it’s own. If you get tired during the day, right around 3pm, or what I call crash time, yerba will help. If you are trying to shed those pesky extra pounds, yerba will help. If you have high stress levels or struggle with anxiety, yerba will help.
Yerba Mate hits you on several different levels.
- Nutrient rich with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fiber.
- Reduces cravings and appetite.
- A natural energizer.
- A powerful adaptogen which helps the body "adapt" to stress.
- High in chlorogenic acid, which means it helps attack bacteria, and research has shown this includes cancer cells.
- Also helps with weight loss because of chlorogenic acids.
- Aide in promoting heart health.
- Decreases inflammation naturally because of saponins.
- Detoxifier, like most xanthines, it is a mild diuretic. This promotes a healthy colon by softening any “backup” that is in there, but also stimulating normal peristalsis. Many who suffer from mild or acute constipation can find relief with Yerba Mate.
- Relaxes the muscles and decreases stress.
- Improves sleep.
- Boosts creativity.
The benefits are immense! Yerba Mate hits you on several different levels. Sure, it's just a tea, but it's a superfood tea, a functional tea. It tastes amazing, but it also heals. So, it's not really a tea, but a powerful herb supplement that will improve your daily life, one yerba mate at a time.
Welcome To The Yerba Mate Family!
I am so excited to have shared one of my favorite things on this earth, yerba mate, with you. And I am even more excited that you now know everything you need to know to about this magical and delicious drink and ritual. It can be super simple or as complex as you want to make it. Either way, it is a ritual of groundedness and quiet, mindfulness and connection. Everyone has their "special" way of making it. Mine was honed after decades of watching and learning from others. Whatever way, it impacts you and improves not only your day but your life.
If you have any questions at all or would love more guidance, please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ana and Chelsea!