Yerba maté was always an afterthought for me when talking about tea. If people were interested in something that was caffeine free, I referred them to rooibos. Considering yerba maté contains a stimulant, it always seemed like a grey area for me.
However, the universe has a way of guiding you toward the things you need, didn’t know you were looking for, or should just plain stumble upon. Guayaki, the first Fair Trade Certified yerba maté company in the world, has a maté bar just down the street from me. I decided to take an afternoon to enjoy some maté and see what I had been missing out on and inadvertently keeping others from.
My son and I headed out to enjoy a new experience and hopefully learn a thing or two about maté. I ordered the small gourd service for myself so that I could get the full experience. The tray came out with a gourd full of maté, a teapot with hot water, a small vessel with cold water, and a bombilla. The tray and the accessories were totally foreign to me. I purposely did not read about the service so that I could go in with a blank slate.
The ceremony itself is designed to unite people and promote a communal spirit. I felt that communal spirit when I mentioned that I had never experienced maté this way and the Cebador – maté server – jumped at the opportunity to explain the process and prepare the maté for me.
He put his hand over the gourd full of maté, flipped it, and tapped it to get the dust that had settled to come back to the top. He poured the cold water into the gourd and let the water penetrate before adding more. Once I drank that, I was to fill it with hot water and drink again. I continued the process about six more times.
The maté was strong with a very woody flavor that tasted like earth. I had not had caffeine at all that day and the mateine was a mild stimulant that gave me increased clarity without any side effects. I am happy to have taken the time to try maté and really wish I had done so when I was working with customers and helping them create their tea ritual.