Imagine a drink that makes you feel as alive as coffee does, as healthy as tea does, and as happy as chocolate does…It sounds magical, doesn’t it? Well because we live in a wonderful world, this miraculous drink does exist, and at Hebden Tea, we are excited to introduce it in our new Fasting Range! If you want to kick-start 2016 with some healthier lifestyle choices, then make sure to include super-drink Yerba Mate!
WHAT IS IT?
Grown in South America, most prominently in Argentina and Brazil, Yerba Mate (pronounced yur-buh mah-tay) comes from an evergreen tree, not dissimilar to a holly bush: the Ilex Paraguariensis. Although the native trees can grow to almost 50ft tall, cultivated yerba mate trees are kept at around 13-16ft in height. Harvested every two years, these trees need time to replace the leaves lost to pruning; therefore the tree is harvested in a rotating system, where only part of the plant is harvested at a time. The yerba mate tree also produces small white-green flowers and very small red stone-fruits. Traditionally used by native South American tribes for its energising ability, yerba mate has been proven to offer a range of health benefits. Containing compounds that improve moods, increase focus and mental energy, aid digestion, and act as an appetite suppressant (potentially resulting in weight loss), yerba mate has also been found to reduce the risk of diabetes in mice. In 1964, the Pasteur Institute (a private French non-profit foundation dedicated to the study of biology, micro-organisms, diseases, and vaccines) reported that yerba mate contains ‘practically all the vitamins necessary to sustain life’. There are very few plants in our world that come close to this plant in terms of nutritional value. Containing vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5 and B-Complex, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and zinc, yerba mate really is packed full of goodness! It also contains a number of antioxidants, such as theobromine, which is the compound in chocolate that makes you feel good!
WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
When infused, yerba mate has quite a savoury smell; it is leathery with grassy hints and very subtle notes of tobacco – almost like a smoky green tea. When tasted, these leaves open up a whole spectrum of flavour, which is hard to compare to other drinks; to put it simply, yerba mate is unlike anything else! This infusion gives an incredibly smooth and pleasant drink with a rich taste and no tangy aftertaste. Flavours range from light and woody, to soft and nutty, and even suggest a slight fruitiness. The absolute lack of astringency makes this highly-caffeinated drink a great alternative to coffee, as it doesn’t dry out your mouth, but still gives you that energising boost to get the day going.
Traditionally, in South America, yerba mate is infused in a hollowed out calabash gourd, and drunk with a metallic drinking straw, that also acts as a sieve, called a “bombilla”. (Drinking hot liquid through a straw may seem anti-intuitive, but boiling water is never used, minimising any risk of injury.)
- Fill your gourd about 3/4 full with the loose yerba mate leaves. Place your hand over the top and shake well (this mixes up the dust, leaves and small stems for a more even infusion)
- Add a small amount of cold water, then allow the leaves to soak this up before filling the calabash up with hot water. Boiling water burns the leaves, resulting in a bitter-tasting drink, so allow your water to cool to about 80°C.
- Drink the mate through your bombilla (taking care so not to burn your tongue).
- Keep topping up with more hot water to enjoy further infusions.
Alternative brewing method:
- Boil your water and pour it into your cup/teapot, then leave it for a couple of minutes to cool to about 80°C.
- Put two teaspoons of Yerba Mate into an infuser, then place this into the receptacle of water. Infuse for 3-5 minutes.
- When you have finished your drink, re-infuse the leaves for another delicious drink.