This drink is a way of life in some parts of South America. Served in a gourd with a metal straw (a bomba or bombilla). This super strong tea is an acquired taste. Brewed from the dried leaves and small stems of the native "Yerba Mate" tree, its ancient, medicinal properties make it hugely popular.

Makes

Preparation

10min

Skill level

Easy
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Ingredients

  • dried leaves and small stems of the native "Yerba Mate" tree

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Uruguayans drink their maté very, very hot, which means it is very bitter. The Argentineans prefer theirs cooler. It is an acquired taste but rumour has it that after three times you will be accustomed to the comforting flavour. The hotter the water and the longer you let it sit before you drink it, the more bitter the taste will be.

To prepare the maté, place the dried, minced leaves into the maté cup, and moisten with cool water. Let that sit for a minute or so. Next add hot water, below boiling, approximately 70°C. This is called "cebar el Maté". The infusion is sucked through a metal pipe called a "bombilla", which has a strainer at its lower end to prevent the minced leaves from reaching the mouth.

Fill the maté cup with the maté to ½ or ⅔ (the more maté the stronger) of its capacity. A variation that will give you more tea per infusion and a less potent taste is to fill the cup only ¼ way, or even a little less than that.

Moisten the Yerba Maté with lukewarm water – wait for 30 seconds to one minute.

Pour hot water in until it nearly fills the cup. Some of the leaves remain dry, floating on the top, but they will eventually absorb water in subsequent infusions. The hotter the water the stronger the brew. It’s best to add hotter water after a few infusions.

Let it stand a few seconds and replenish with hot water when the previous one is absorbed by the dry maté leaves.

When the water is not absorbed anymore, close the bombilla's "mouthpiece" with your thumb and insert it firmly into the maté. This will trap the air and keep the maté from getting through the strainer.

You can drink and replenish the maté with hot water many times until the liquid comes out with almost no taste.