Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yerba Mate - The ancient drink of Health and Friendship

This is my Mate cup.. it's very special. I love yerba mate! ..but I have been off it for a little while, for almost a year, since the early days of Rawlicious. Then I guess it just got too busy, although you would think thats when I could use it most!!
Yerba mate really energizes you. really energizes! ..I got laughed at today for talking too fast. & told it's the yerba. Like right now I have been drinking it all day & I am posting a blog, checking & responding to e-mails, downloading music to put on my ipod.. all at once, hmm.. maybe I should call my mom! lol

She laughs/criticises me for always being busy doing something while I talk to her.. being too busy. But thats life.. lots to be done around here! : ) conscientiously, I'm quite good at multi-tasking and do take time to meditate, sometimes. I'm working on it!!

back to the Mate..
A friend brought back lots of yerba mate from Buenos Aires & I am taste testing some. It seemed stronger, slightly more earthy tasting from the brand I was used to . I called my good friend Elena, from Uruguay, who gave me a little lesson on Yerba Mate.

There is a difference in the yerba mate which comes from different countries. In Brazil and Uruguay the yerba is more leaves.. in Argentina and Venezuela it has more sticks (palitos), actually tiny branches in it. and does have a more earthy woody taste. All countries have different distinctive flavours of Yerba.

It is very popular all over South America. There it is drank like we drink tea or coffee, most people drink it a lot. But the really beautiful think about Yerba is the cup it is drank in, which they call Mate.. it is a communal cup that you share. You go to visit friends or family and everyone shares the cup of mate. It's the whole custom and the way it is drank thats so wonderful. Elena tells me that when she is home she would never think of getting her own cup of Mate.. her Mom will start one when she gets up in the morning & her sisters and her will share it when they get up. Students drink it a lot to stay up late studying for exams. It def helps keep you awake and focused and energized.. Not advisable to drink it before bed. (even though they say its good for eliminating insommnia ..?)

Thre is a bit of a technique to preparing the cup. You pour in the yerba leaves and tilt the cup and add warm water until the leaves swell up a bit with the water. Then insert the bombilla, which is a wooden or metal straw which has a slotted spoon at the end. The cup is actually called Mate and that is where the yerba mate gets its name from. Mate is traditionally a dried & decorated gourd.

After the leaves swell up, you use the bottom spoon part of the straw to make a sort of cavern underneath and on the side, where you pour more hot water in to drink. It gets easier to make a nice opening at the side and under the more the leaves swell.

Besides being made in a traditional mate cup it can be made like regular tea, from a tea bag, which is usually much milder or made in a coffee press, where the herb is infused with hot water, and then the herb is pressed out of the way of the tea.
Yerba Mate is not only fun; it has very beneficial health properties also!

Energize The Body
Stimulate Mental Alertness
Aid Weight Loss
Cleanse The Colon
Gentle Diuretic
Accelerate Healing Process
Relieve Stress
Calm Allergies
Fortify Immune System
Increase Longevity
"More than a drink, Yerba Mate has become a cultural phenomenon throughout South America. Its benefits are obvious. In Buenos Aires, where people carry their Mate with them throughout the day, the site of an obese person is rare. "
"In the search for a natural stimulant devoid of side effects and toxicity, Mate currently holds the most hope. An invigorator of the mind and body, a natural source of nutrition, and a health promoter par excellence, Mate deserves the attention of every person interested in optimum health."
"Yerba mate contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine inan eight ounce cup, according to a recent Health Canada report, comparedwith 47 milligrams in a cup of tea and 100 milligrams in a cup of coffee."
But I most love about mate the way it is drank and the sharing.

Mate friendships; A Form of Intimacy

"Those who share the Mate cup join in a kind of bond where the sharing of the health and meditation of the Yerba Mate is a sign of total acceptance and friendship.

In Argentina and Brazil, fellow gouchos or farmers, knit together by the work of taming a wild land, will share a Mate around the camp fire to enhance their bonds of companionship. In Buenos Aires it's common to find a close-knit family or two lovers, or two or three best friends sharing a Mate on an outing to a local park or beach. In all these places, when an individual or group finally offers to include you in their Mate sharing, it should be taken as the highest possible compliment and entered in to with great appreciation. To avoid offending the offering party, there area few rules you should follow as a part of a Mate fellowship."
I didnt know there were Mate sharing rules until today, they are kind of common sense.. but it's an interesting read (if you love drinking mate!).. here they are:

1. Don't ask for sugar
Many people are accustomed to drinking sugar in their coffee and tea, and it is perfectly fine to ask for it. Many people also drink sugar in their Mate. But when you are asked to join a Mate fellowship, you could make the worst sacrilege ever imagined by asking for sugar.

2. Don't say that Mate is unhygienic
You may feel that it is unhygienic to put your mouth where everybody puts theirs. Of course it is, but that is expressly why sharing a Mate is such an intimate experience. The offer to share something so intimate is the highest honor of all. If you don't want to be that close to someone, don't share a Mate with them. Otherwise, don't say anything about the hygiene of the experience.

3. Don't say the Mate is too hot
If everyone else is happy with the temperature it would be considered rude to ask them to cool it down, or to wait until it cools naturally.

4. Don't leave the Mate half-way
Despite the great similarity between Mate and the peace pipe, there are some basic differences. While everyone just takes one puff in the calumet and passes it on, don't ever do that with Mate. You must sip all the water until hearing the noise signaling the gourd is empty. See the next rule.
5. Don't feel ashamed of the noise at the end
If, after sipping, you hear the gourd "snoring," don't feel ashamed. It is all right, no one will look upon you as being rude. It's what you are suppose to do.
6. Don't stir the gourd
The gourd may get clogged from time to time, due to itself, to the Yerba or to who prepared the Mate. If that happens, you have all the right to complain. But, please, don't stir the gourd. Talk to who offered you the Mate or passed the gourd to you. But don't stir the gourd, don't stir the gourd and, above all, don't stir the gourd.
7. Don't change the order
A Mate round works like a clock. The gourd passes from hand to hand, always in the same order. If you are being served, hand it back to the server. If people are pouring their own water, which happens in some places, always pass it the next person without changing the order.
8.Don't slow down the rhythm
Drinking Mate alone is an excellent way to meditate on the things in your life. You drink leisurely, thinking about whatever drifts your way. To have a Mate in a circle of people is quite different. The essence is not meditation but rather integration. In a Mate round, you talk, discuss, laugh, swear; you are part of a community; it is a fraternization. Don't forget to sip; the other people are waiting.
9.Don't condemn the server for being the first to drink
If you say the server is rude because he or she prepares the Mate and is the first to drink, well, you are the rude one. The strongest sip is the first one, and whoever takes it is seen as doing the group a favor.
Yerba Mate is another of those sacred South American plants. Enjoy it with great Health, Love and Friendship!


Lovingraw said...

Well written post Robin. Great stuff! LOVE!

Lauren said...

I love Yerba Matte. I haven't had it a while either. I wish I had one of those cool gourds to drink it out of! :)

Robin 'Keiko' Gregory said...

Heyyy. Philip!! Thank you, great to hear from you - Big, big Hugs! : )

Hi Lauren, If you are ever in Toronto I think they have them at a South American grocery store in Kensington market, think it's on Augusta, southern end of the street. Cheers! Nice to hear from you!

Organic Gardener said...

Thanks so much for the info.

Robin 'Keiko' Gregory said...

My pleasure! & a pleasure to meet you! Cheers! R

Anonymous said...

I am concerned personally that Yerba Mate, just like other caffeinated beverages, places undue stress on the adrenal glands if taken habitually. All that energy has to be coming from somewhere.

Robin 'Keiko' Gregory said...

Hi Anonymous,
I have to admit that I agree with you. I seem to go on Yerba binges every once in awhile.. I love Yerba, the energy it gives and the social factor.. it just feels good and I have read so many health and herb books saying how beneficial yerba can be, one of the most beneficial herbs. But that being said.. it's true that it can get you wired if you drink a lot .. and I also feel concerned sometimes that it could be addictive as well as not all good, like you said -perhaps for the adrenals.. so I tend to drink it in moderation.
I am not sure how it affects the adrenals.. and I appreciate your comment and thoughts on this factor.
Peace & Love! Thanks for commenting.

Paul@Patricia said...

Im originally from Chile, never drink Mate till I came to the States in 1985 ,was introduce to it from some friends Uruguayans , now I do it on a daily basis.Loved !!!!

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