🧉 Drinking Mate from a Gourd: The South American Friendship Potion

I have made topics before about drinking tea as a potion, or consecrating coffee, but really the drink that I usually have at home is yerba mate.

I decided to make this my entry for the Potion-Making Witchy Challenge!

When I first moved to the US I encountered this: Yerba Mate being sold as a soft drink (in a can?!)

Well, there’s really nothing wrong with it but it’s just not the same (the flavor or the experience) as drinking mate properly out of a gourd. Which has even earned its own emoji: :maté:

The way yerba mate is drank is by soaking dried leaves of the yerba mate plant in hot water, served with a metal straw in a container typically made from calabash gourd. The word “mate” comes from the Guaraní indigenous language meaning squash or calabash.

It is said that Uruguay is the country that drinks the most mate (8 kilos per person per year), but as an Argentine I grew up surrounded by mate drinkers too and as far as I know 80% of people in Argentina drink it regularly. A lot more than coffee for sure. :coffee:

What is Yerba Mate good for?

Yerba Mate has all the qualities of a potion for focus as it is caffeinated, boosting the mood and rising energy levels. But it also has a few other proven medical benefits:

  • Mental focus
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Lower risk of certain cancers
  • Improves heart health

The Mystical side of Yerba Mate

Sipped alone, yerba mate offers solace. Shared among friends, it is a communal rite. The real Magic of drinking mate happens in the act of sharing it. Although since Covid-19 this became a problem and the government had to issue warnings for people not to share mate with others anymore. :frowning:

However, I wanted to share a few fragments of a folk poem written by Lalo Mir, an Argentine radio host, who summarized very well the cultural meaning of drinking yerba mate: :argentina:

"Mate is exactly the opposite of television: It makes you chat if you’re with someone :speech_balloon:, and it makes you think when you’re alone. :thought_balloon:

Whenever somebody arrives at your house, the first thing that you say is “Hola” and the second is “¿unos mates?” (Care to share some mates?).
This happens in everyone’s house. In the house of the rich and of the poor. In winter or in summer.

Yerba is probably the only thing that is always in every home. :house: Always. With inflation, or hunger, during military coups or democratic governments, during every of our pests and eternal curses. And if one day, we run out of Yerba, a neighbor won’t hesitate to give you some; because Yerba Mate can’t be denied to anyone.

Mate is nothing more and nothing less than a demonstration of values:

  • It’s the solidarity to keep on drinking those washed out mates because the chat is good.
  • It’s friendship.
  • It’s the hospitality of an invitation.
  • It’s the obligation of saying “gracias” (thank you), at least once a day. "

Note: Usually when you’re done with it, you say “gracias” to the cebador (the person pouring it) signaling that you don’t want any more.

How to Drink Mate from a Gourd :maté:

:earth_americas: Everyone in the Cono Sur (Southern tip of South America) takes great pride in mate and we’re always eager to teach others about it. A while back I made this video on how to drink mate from a gourd in case you want to try it.

Keep in mind that it takes more than a couple sittings to get used to the bitter taste!

Enjoy!! :smiley:

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I have had mate in a can. I agree, it’s not the same. Thanks for the entry! You always have an interesting read :slightly_smiling_face:

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This is great! Yes we drink it alot. Exactly as you mentioned. In Uruguay and Argentina it’s a custom to drink it several times a day and share with friends and loved ones. Its especially great to accompany it with Biscochos, torta fritas or fracturas as they say in Argentina. Have many fond memories of sharing mate with my Aunties and grandma back in Uruguay. I actually asked my auntie to bring me a “Mate” when she visited. I really need to get back into drinking it! Its really good for you! Have you ever tried it with hot boiled milk ? Basically milk instead of water. Its also so delicious too.
Thank you for sharing!
Blessed be

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Wow. I’ve learned something today. I’ve never even heard of Yerba Mate. It sounds like a culture phenomenon. Very neat. Thanks for sharing.

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@christina4 @kasie Thanks!! I hope I inspired you to try drinking yerba mate more often! There should be more places where they sell it here. Unfortunately it hasn’t caught on yet :maté:

Las facturas is what I miss the most!! :croissant::croissant: Perfect combination!! :smiley: My father used to drink it with milk but it was “mate cocido” I think.

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Exactly what I was thinking! You learn something new every day!
Gosh I wanna try it :star_struck:

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A very fascinating drink with rich health benefits and powerful cultural value! :heart_eyes: It was a pleasure to learn more about Yerba Mate- I hope the pandemic comes to a close soon so that everyone can gather together and share Yerba Mate as a community again. It sounds like such a lovely experience :blush: Thanks so much for sharing, Francisco!

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I love pastries and any drink in the morning. I’m used to calling them pan and I drink coffee with them. There’s a Mexican bakery not too far from me who makes them so exquisitely. I’ve got to have the right coffee to go with it! It’s like an instant coffee made in a big pot (for the stove, not a coffee pot) for everyone. I need to get some pan y cafe!

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I doubt they sell it at my store, but I"ll look when I go out today. Would it be under teas or soft drinks?

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Where I live, there are some health food stores that have it, and one of them even sold the gourd and straw too!

Also many local tea houses have loose leaf yerba mate.

The gourd and straw you can find on Amazon. There are many options but this one looks good.

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I looked for it today at the store but couldn’t find any. We don’t have a health food store or even a tea shop here where I live. There’s a couple of jerky outlets for hunters, but no tea shops. LOL. I’ll have to keep my eye out for it. Thanks for the link to the gourd and straw. That’s pretty!

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Well I was looking at the reviews on that Amazon link and some of them are really terrible… Watch out for 1-star reviews there!

I brought mine from Argentina so I don’t know what’s the best place to get them online. Here’s one I found on Etsy that looks good and not too expensive.

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That’s really pretty with the sun mark. Is brewing Yerba Mate really expensive? Not sure where I’d find any around here.

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That’s Inti :sun_with_face: the Sun god or Sol de Mayo, which is featured in our national flags! :argentina: :uruguay:

I always buy the yerba (loose leaf) when I travel because it’s so much cheaper in Argentina. Here it can be expensive just because there’s not a lot of demand. I buy Rosamonte which you can get on Amazon.

There’s a US brand called Guayakí, which has a store locator. Make sure you select “dry” to get the loose leaf version.

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Huh. The store locator says there’s some at my Kroger’s. I’ll have to look again today and see. I’d love the stuff in bags because it would be like tea and I know how to fix that, but i supposed the loose leaf is more traditional. Does it have to be drunk from the gourd? Or is it just traditional? Money is tight this month. Just wondering.

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The gourd is not really necessary if you’re drinking on your own. It’s usually for sharing with others and of course it’s the “authentic” way of drinking it.

But you can drink it as tea if you have a tea strainer. Or you can get just the bombilla (straw) and pour yourself a mate on any cup or mug you have.

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I’ll probably do it as a tea then, that sounds good. I was reading the back of the tea I had this morning and it had Yorba Mate in it and it was good, so I think I’ll like it. Now to see if I can find it at Kroger’s tomorrow!

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