What does yerba mate mean to you?
Mate means a lot of things to me; for starters it’s an alternative to coffee. It stimulates me without any of the very unpleasant side-effects that I personally get when I drink coffee like agitation, nervousness, headache, nausea, and even vomiting. Mate means sharing not just the drink itself but sharing the good times, sharing ideas, etc. Mate means culture, mate means health and well-being, and mate means respect for nature and the earth because of the distinctive “earthy” taste. I use my spent leaves for compost and I symbolically give back to the earth after each gourd-ful. On a deeper level, here in America I believe mate could be very popular and help bring young people together with new ideas and help us figure out what is important to us and how we as a society can progress and address the problems that affect not only America but the entire world.
What was your first mate experience like?
I tried using a gourd at first but I failed the first time (learn how to prepare yerba mate here). Leaves were getting through the bombilla and on top of that I thought I had to cure my gourd but ended up breaking it because it was a wooden gourd not a real gourd. Although I didn’t get it quite right, I loved the taste and the effects I got from drinking it. I continued to brew mate using a French press for a long time but now that I have figured out the gourd/bombilla I feel like now I have become a true mate drinker.
How did you find out about yerba mate?
While browsing a website that sells botanicals I discovered their yerba mate pages that explained how it was an alternative to coffee used for centuries by South Americans. I was very intrigued and it enticed me to learn more about it. The more I learned about it, the more I wanted to try it. I never thought that it would become part of my daily routine and yet it has.
What is your favorite mate brand and why?
I can’t really say that I have a favorite brand because I really haven’t tried many brands but I particularly like Canarias because it’s strong, rich and smokey (like tobacco) but mixed with sugar it tastes like black or green tea. Right now I am drinking and really liking the regular Rosamonte because of its very very dark strong taste. I’m mixing each infusion with a little maple syrup and its delicious, it tastes like hot chocolate. Yum!
How do you feel when you drink mate?
Mate stimulates me in a different way than coffee does. It gives me lots of “get-up-and-go” energy. The kind of pickup I need in the morning to take on the world, start my day at school, exercise, or study but with no jitteriness. It makes me feel happy or euphoric, alert, focused, creative, and full of energy. It gives me the kind of buzz that I think is well categorized as a “high”. Its stimulating effects are fairly similar in nature to cocaine and its relaxing, euphoric effects are somewhat akin to marijuana. I find it interesting that people gather in circles to pass around and share yerba mate the way people share marijuana.
Is mate magical to you or just another drink?
It is certainly a drink like no other. I think it has really changed my life for the better and I really want to share it with others because here in the Washington D.C. area I often end up drinking alone. I certainly respect the yerba mate like its holy or magical simply because of how much its changed my life and my outlook on the future. It’s no surprise that the indigenous people that first discovered mate revered it as a gift from the gods.