Midweek Crush: Yerba Mate Tea
Nothing quite compares to a cup of tea the way it’s made in your own home. For me, that was a typical Parsi chai (strong, milky, minty and sweet). Though, the tea I am crushing on this week could not be more different from the tea I grew up with.
Image by Sascha Grabow www.saschagrabow.com - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
One usually thinks coffee when they hear South America. But they are tea drinkers too! They drink a type of tea called Yerba Mate (pronounced matt-ay) and have a very distinct ceremony around it which I found fascinating. The tea is a coarsely chopped leaf, (different from the rolled tea leaves we are used to). They add stevia leaves to this for sweetness and drink it in a hollowed-out gourd or pumpkin (called calabash). The tea is drunk through a metal straw (called bombilla in Spanish) with a mesh at the bottom to keep out the leaves. The tea is shared between a group of friends and can be re-steeped 7 to 8 times.
I might not be allowed into any South American country after writing this ‘cause I use a simple infuser to make my mate! Last time I checked, we don’t get dried hollowed out gourds and bombillas here in India.
I add 1 teaspoon of the tea in an infuser (you could also use a French press). Then I fill about 20% of the mug with room temperature water and top it with boiling water. This is to make sure it doesn't get too bitter. I let it steep for 3 to 4 mins and then, drink!
The grassy, green tea flavour may take some getting used to but this is definitely a taste worth acquiring. Yerba Mate is packed with nutritional goodness and health benefits:
- The alertness of coffee without the jitters.
- The caffeine helps in boosting one’s mental state and mood.
- Packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Has 11 different Polyphenols that help with anti-oxidation. So it’s a better antioxidant than most other teas.
Each tea tradition tells a beautiful story and learning about them is a journey into another world.
Yerba Mate tea is available online from Amazon.