Preparing yerba mate in a gourd is an art.
5) Add hot (no hotter than150 degrees F.) water until it reaches just below the top of the yerba mate. Sip from the bombilla until all the liquid is gone, then add more hot water. The first few drinks are strong; the flavor will soften as more water is added for each drink.
6) Now that the gourd is prepared, drink it, add more hot water and serve your friends one at time in a circular fashion. Basically, pour, pass, sip. Let them know not to move the bombilla, as to not disturb the yerba. - Before using the gourd, read the curing and caring section.
7. The mate gourd can be refilled 15-20 times.
Curing your gourd
1. Gently scrape the inside of the gourd with the tip of the bombilla to clean out any
loose gourd particles and seed flesh.
2. Prepare the gourd for drinking following normal preparation instructions.
3. When finished using the gourd for the day, empty it out and give it a rinse
with water. Then using the bombilla, gently scrape out the gourd again.
4. Finally, place the gourd upside-down in the dishrack or a warm place to
COMPLETELY dry. DO NOT let your gourd stay moist for prolonged periods of
time. For best results let your gourd completely dry before using it again.
Gourd Drinking History
The gauchos (Argentine cowboys) are notorious for drinking yerba mate as their "liquid vegetable," relying on its array of nutients to power them throughout the day.
"...the Gaucho, possessing few wants and poor in the midst of inexhaustible riches, is the child of unconcern; with food or without, with shelter or not, a paper cigar, a little mate (Paraguayan tea), one meal a day of meat cooked in the open air without bread or vegetables, and his guitar at night, and he rests content; but if you add a Sunday suit of clothes with silver mounted trappings for his horse, his pride and delight are unbounded, and as he curvets over the plain, having attained the summit of his ambition, no more a vivid picture of human self-satisfaction could be presented."
--Ernest William White (1881)
In Paraguay, yuyeras (herbalists) have been using yerba mate for centuries as the base of herbal medicine mixtures called “remedios” or remedies. It is common to make “remedios” with yerba mate by steeping medicinal herbs in the water used to prepare mate in the gourd. It is believed that by improving circulation and promoting balance, yerba mate acts as a catalyst to enhance the healing powers of other herbs. Guayakí’s tea bag blends are inspired by the yuyeras.
The Mate Ceremony
Excerpt from “The Mate” by Mónica G.Hoss de le Comte
“When people gather to drink mate (mah-tay) something magical happens. It is a simple, daily custom and yet it has all the characteristics of a ceremony. Like any ceremony it has rites which are carefully performed in the same way, day after day. It is a moment of leisure with friends and family. In the country, the gauchos sit together around the fogón (the campfire), sipping their mate after a long day's work. Tiredness breeds silence and silently the mate gourd circles from hand to hand. And then, slowly, conversation starts, people come closer together, confidences are exchanged. The mate ceremony resembles the American rite of the calumet, the pipe of peace. There too, the pipe goes from hand to hand, completing the circle, offering hospitality and goodwill. Mate is drunk by everybody: it is a drunk by the trucker and his companion in the loneliness of the long, never-ending routes (they use a vessel with a wide mouth into which it is easy to pour the hot water in spite of the jolts along the track); by students, when studying; by workers during their midday rest; at home for breakfast or on any other occasion, rain or shine, in summer or in winter.”