"Mate isn't just a drink, but a way for the people to gather."
Mate (pronounced "mah-tay") is a type of plant native to South America, particularly Argentina, Southern Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It is dried up and made into a tea. Natives usually drink it through a filtered metal straw (called a "bombilla") and out of a gourd. Traditionally, the natives will carry around the gourd, bombilla, and a thermos and take breaks throughout the day to drink mate with friends. It is a major part of the social culture of Argentina and Paraguay.
The taste itself is slightly bitter and earthy. It contains twice the amount of caffeine as black tea, but still only half as much as coffee. The nice thing about mate is that it really makes you feel energized without the jittery feeling that other caffeine sources tend to give you.
A few months ago I was in Whole Foods buying a pound of loose yerba mate and the girl that was checking me out asked me if I knew about "Mate Lattes". I said I didn't. She said it is half mate, half almond milk. Pretty much my dream beverage. Ever since, I've been frequently enjoying my mate lattes and I notice a significant difference in my energy level and mood. My energy is sustained throughout the day and I feel happy and motivated.
Besides its immediate effects, yerba mate offers many health benefits. It contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties. It can help improve focus, boost the immune system, stimulate the digestive system, and aid in weight loss.
The nice advantage of a mate latte is that you can drink it warm or cold. Yesterday I had mine over ice because it was a hot day and it was so refreshing!
If you don't have a gourd and bombilla, (don't worry, I don't either) you can brew your tea regularly and use a strainer. Typically mate is brewed in hot, but not boiling, water and it brews for about 5 minutes.
This is one of my favorite drinks in the world. You really can't beat the way it changes your day and gives you that necessary boost! Buen Provecho!