Yerba Mate
February 28, 2003 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Yerba Mate is a drink that is enormously popular in South America. Given to the world by the Guarani Indians, its a bitter brew reminiscent of tea but with interesting properties. A coworker returned from Argentina and brought me some. I'm addicted.
posted by Dantien (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mate is wonderful and I enjoyed drinking it -- but ironically, one of the reasons it loses its war with coffee for my attention is one of its best qualities: It's not addictive. Coffee demands my attention; mate doesn't mind if I leave it alone.

And a warning: It tastes like hot hay the first time you try it. It may take some getting used to. And while sipping from the little filtered metal straw you should be using for it can be very sensuous, it's also hot -- your mouth can get a bit burned until you learn the right way to draw it.

But try it out.
posted by argybarg at 3:40 PM on February 28, 2003

No affiliation a quick check of Google lots of places sell it in the USA.
posted by stbalbach at 3:52 PM on February 28, 2003

For about a year, I worked with two dozen Argentineans on a Tango show. I learned much about Argentinean culture and saw a lot of Yerba Mate. They went through it like gangbusters. Sucking green weed out of paper cups through these weird pipe things. I was pretty sure they were copping buzz. But I was never offered a taste.

Of course, one my jobs was making 5 gallons of coffee every night and they liked it strong. But what was staggering to me was the 5 lbs of sugar they went through every week. They were dancing fools!
posted by pejamo at 4:05 PM on February 28, 2003

I have family in Argentina, and let me tell you it is an experience trying to get a couple kilos back through immigration.
posted by H. Roark at 4:18 PM on February 28, 2003

(injoke) HI GNEers! (/injoke)
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:19 PM on February 28, 2003

This is also, of course, the plant used to make Materva, which if you recall my soda thread, is about my favorite drink ever. However, I've tried the tea (though not through a metal straw, so it probably wasn't 100% authentic stuff), and came to much the same conclusion as Argybarg.
posted by wanderingmind at 5:02 PM on February 28, 2003

I believe it is available at Trader Joe's, if you're fortunate enough to have one in your vicinity.
posted by padraigin at 5:17 PM on February 28, 2003

celestial seasonings includes yerba maté in its morning thunder tea, which has a robust flavour to it. and it hits me like caffeine; my hands shake like a squirrel for hours afterwards. bought 6 boxes of it for a friend up in toronto, where it's not found. of course, the guy at the convenience store thought i was stockpiling for a war or something...
posted by myopicman at 6:02 PM on February 28, 2003

(injoke) HI GNEers! (/injoke)

*Slaps CunningLinguist with a large trout*
posted by vacapinta at 6:14 PM on February 28, 2003

Not to spoil your fun, but Mate has been linked to esophageal cancer.
posted by Utilitaritron at 8:47 PM on February 28, 2003

I think I'll stick with Postum, thank you very much. Mmmm, wheaty. And healthy. Maybe.
posted by shepd at 9:55 PM on February 28, 2003

Go to the House and take the moon from the sky (you lose your sun icon but gain a sickle for cutting). Fill your bottle with water and stop by the pantry to get some more sugar. Use the sickle moon to cut a leaf on the left of the Garden near Olly's shoulder. Checking the flashing book in the library tells you the leaf is to make tea and the addition of milk and sugar turns it into Royal Yerba Mate. Put the bottle into the fire in the Drawing room to boil the water and place the leaf and water into the teapot in the Dining room. Drag the pot to the cup to fill it with tea. Milk the cow again and collect a bottleful. Pour the milk into the cup then add the sugar. Another task completed.
posted by taz at 12:10 AM on March 1, 2003

I've heard it sometimes called "Jesuit Coffee" and any decent independent tea and coffee shop *should* carry it. The one in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia (Old Town Coffee, Tea & Spice) carries it along with one of the best tea and coffee selections I've seen in a while.

If you go, say hi to Frank.....he's a treasure chest of info.
posted by Dagobert at 1:42 AM on March 1, 2003

no-one's mentioned, but it's normal (as far as i know, but lots of things - like whether to add sugar - seem to vary around the continent) way to prepare mate is to half-fill whatever you use for drinking (traditionally a wooden cup or hollowed out dried gourd) with the leaves and then keep adding water (re-using the leaves). some people throw away the first few charges because it's too strong.

also (i don't know if this is just chile or throughout the continent) people make tea in an odd way (if they use leaves - people also use teabags in cups), making a jug of very strong tea (using more leaves and less water) which is used as a concentrate - you pour a little of the strong tea into a cup and then add hot water to taste.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:24 AM on March 1, 2003

Utilitron, you just killed my buzz. This is what I get for getting up the nerve to post a story on Metafilter!? :)

The cancer link is interesting, though hard to find ANY other evidence than that page. But then again, no matter what your vice of choice, there are some risks. Allah knows I should be more concerned with my coffee/marijuana habit than I should my emerging Mate habit. At least Mate has more vitamins.

My second day on Mate is as bright as ever. Boy am I awake.
posted by Dantien at 12:19 PM on March 1, 2003

My first drink of Mate made me puke.
posted by oflinkey at 3:16 PM on March 1, 2003

yeah, me too. but after that, it's ok...
posted by andrew cooke at 4:04 PM on March 1, 2003

There's also mate with juice (it could be orange juice, lemon juice, etc.). It's often drinked in summer and we call it "tereré". The original is made with yerba mate and cold water.
posted by Flor at 6:56 PM on March 1, 2003

I had no problems finding it in Toronto. Try the South American shops along Bloor street by Christie Pits. They all carry it, or did up till a couple of years ago.

I'm sure there's more, especially in any town with a decent SA/Spanish/Portuguese community.

And I love the stuff, especially when I'm tired and a little strung out, like right now.

I got hooked on it after reading Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch, an incredible novel that happens to have several passages on the altered state that mate (and old jazz, and late-night arguments about all kinds of stuff) brings.
posted by chicobangs at 1:08 AM on March 2, 2003 [1 favorite]

I lived in Argentina and loved pretty much everything about it, but I never got into mate and somehow have no interest in doing so now ("tastes like hot hay"... "your mouth can get a bit burned"... "made me puke"... mmm good!). I think I'll stick with my beloved, addictive coffee.

(But yeah, Hopscotch/Rayuela is a great book!)
posted by languagehat at 7:15 AM on March 2, 2003

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