Mate is a versatile drink and there many ways of preparing it, depending on the type of yerba mate and liquid you use. There is a huge variety of yerba: with or without stems, finely ground or roughly cut, flavored, sweetened, blended with other herbs. Mate can be drunk with water – hot or cold -, milk or even juice. However, the most popular and traditional way of preparing mate is plain, with hot water. Here’s how to prepare yerba mate.
To prepare mate you will need:
- Yerba mate. For beginners, we recommend yerba with stems. If you want a strong, more toasted and bitter flavor, go for the one without stems.
- Bombilla (metal ‘straw’)
- Mate gourds (highly recommended, but you can also drink from a cup)
- Lukewarm water and hot water
- A termo (optional but very useful to keep your water at perfect temperature)
- Fill 2/3 to 3/4 of the gourd with yerba and slant it at 45-degree angle. If you are using yerba without stems, cover the top of the gourd and shake it up and down, to remove the small particles of the yerba before slanting it (45 degrees angle)
- Pour lukewarm water as close as the wall of the gourd on the lower half of the slant of yerba. Looking the maté from above, you will see a half filled with water, and half dry. Wait until the water is absorbed by the yerba (1 minute).
- Repeat this process but this time with hot water – around 80 Celsius / 176 Fahrenheit. It is not recommended to use water at a higher temperature than that because it could burn the yerba, affecting its taste and performance.
- Put the bombilla (covering the top with thumb) on the same lower side of the yerba, on a digging motion, and pressing until you reach the bottom of the gourd.
- Press the yerba with the bombilla, creating two differentiated levels: one higher and dry, and other lower and wet.
- Add hot water to the lower side, aiming as close as possible to the bombilla to avoid the higher (and dry) part of the yerba slant to get wet.
Your mate is ready. Just drink it using the bombilla and repeat step 6 as many times as you want.
At some point, which varies depending on the type of yerba mate, you will start noticing the mate is losing its taste – if you burn the yerba or if you accidentally wet the whole yerba this will happen sooner, so be careful! When you get to that point, carefully remove the bombilla and repeat steps 4 and 5, but this time on the ‘dry side’ – opposite from where it was. Continue with step 6 and enjoy.