Unique Tea Experiences at the Dobra Tea House – Yerba Mate

A trip to the Dobra tea house has a way of gathering all the elements of the day and making them a part of the tea-drinking experience.  We drink beverages distractedly throughout our multi-tasking lives all the time, but a tea house makes the beverage central.  The tea bowls placed in the center of the table give one a place to start, a grounding present moment that slowly circles out to include the world beyond the windows.

It was a gray morning, so cold and windy after days of warm sunlight that it made heads ache in the back and tiredness fog the body.  The wind kept shifting the hair and clothing of the people on the street from one direction to the next.  It was, of course, the perfect day to step inside a tea house, because every day is.

It is a perfect place to discover Yerba Mate tea. 

Mate was first consumed by the indigenous Guaraní people and also spread in the Tupí people that lived in the departments of Amambay and Alto Paraná the territory of Paraguay. Its consumption became widespread during European colonization, particularly in the Spanish colony of Paraguay in the late 16th century, among both Spanish settlers and indigenous Guaraní, who had, to some extent before the Spanish arrival, consumed it. This widespread consumption turned it into Paraguay’s main commodity above other wares, such as tobacco … .     (Excerpt from the complete Wikipedia article on Yerba Mate.)

First Experiencing Yerba Mate

I loved how the yerba (Spanish for “herb”) sat on top of the water; it was like drinking from a dark green swamp.   The traditionally carved-out gourd (“mate” meaning “cup”) rested nicely between the palms, almost the way a potter might caringly cup clay in the process of creating pottery.  The bombilla fit between the lips perfectly, almost as if one were playing a reed instrument.  The holes in the bottom of this metal straw allow the liquid to come through without any of the floating herb.

Yerba Mate

It’s quite fitting that “bombilla” translates as “light bulb” in Spanish, as so many are aware of yerba mate’s ability to awaken and sharpen the mind.  The particular blend my friend had chosen had an aftertaste of tobacco and honey.  I remarked that it seemed dangerous because I felt I could easily drink a lot, and while he agreed, he said that the smokiness made him want to savor it slowly.

As we shared the yerba mate (me drinking hot water in between tiny sips), we wondered aloud about the characters on the street and their lives.  When we went back into the gray wind, walking quietly, I said, “What are you thinking about?” and he replied with a very big smile, “Nothing at all, I am just in bliss.”

Share yerba mate with someone special soon, be it on a day with gray walls of clouds or sunlight warming the skin.

This article has been updated and republished from the original May 2010 date.