Mate is a South American drink that is similar to tea as we know it. For its production, the leaves of the mate bush (Ilex paraguariensis) are harvested, wilted and dried. This is also known from tea. For green mate, the fermentation is stopped by heating.

But, of course, it is not a tea plant – mate plant is a species of holly. Mate is popularly drunk together in Latin America. For this purpose, the calabash (a traditional drinking vessel made of bottle gourd) is passed around. Drinking is done through a drinking straw, the bombilla. At the end of the bombilla is a filter, which separates the leaves from the drink.

The taste of mate is tart and fruity and has something very special. Not for nothing is mate also called the “drink of the gods” or the “green gold of the Indians”.

Interesting: In Argentina, 80% of people drink mate at least once a week.

How to prepare mate?

For mate tea, the leaves of holly are harvested, dried and crushed. You don’t need much to prepare it: a calabash (either pumpkin or stainless steel), a drinking tube (bombilla) and the mate. The bombilla is inserted diagonally into the calabash and filled ¾ full with mate. Now hold the bombilla at a 45 degree angle and pour 70-80° hot water. Do not moisten the upper part of the tea at first. Mate is always infused several times, gradually more and more mate tea is covered with water.

Tip: The colder the water, the less bitter substances are dissolved.

Drinking is always done immediately after the mate tea is brewed. The first infusion is the most bitter. Traditionally, this infusion is spit out or drunk by the host. The calabash is repeatedly filled with water and then passed around.

There are also many alternative methods for infusions. For example, you can put mate directly into a filter and infuse it as regular tea. Preparation in a French press is also possible.

Care calabashes from bottle gourd

Traditional gourd calabashes need to be well cared for. If care is neglected, there is a risk of mold – after all, the calabash is a natural product.
Before the first use calabashes need to be prepared. This process is called “curado”. To do this, pour mate and warm water into the calabash and let the brew sit for 24 hours. During this time, the calabash must not dry out! Finally, remove the contents and carefully scrape the inside of the calabash with a teaspoon. Repeat this process for 4 consecutive days. The color of the calabash will change due to the mate tea. This is intentional and a sign that the calabash is ready for use.

The following applies to use: Therefore, never let water stand in the calabash for a long time (except with the Curado). Rinse the calabash after each use and allow it to dry out regularly and completely with the opening facing up. This way you can enjoy the calabash for a longer time.

With us you have the choice between two calabashes: A traditional gourd calabash and a modern, easy-care and double-walled stainless steel one. Of course, you can also find the mate tea and the bombilla with us:

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