How to Make Yerba Mate
Regardless of your preparation method (many of which are listed below), please follow these Three Basic Rules:
Moisten It First: Before you add hot water, moisten your yerba mate with cold water.
- Never Boil It: Boiling water burns the herb and makes it bitter. 170 F is ideal.
- Five Minutes: Don’t steep yerba mate for longer than five minutes. If you like a stronger cup, add more yerba mate.
It's easy to brew a cup of yerba mate just like regular tea or coffee. Simply use one tablespoon per cup of water, or more if you like it strong. You can drink it straight or blend it with other herbs. Try adding sweetener and/or a milk of choice. Percolators, French presses, espresso makers, tea bags, strainers, and tea straws all work great.
THE YERBA MATE CIRCLE
- First, fill a thermos with hot (but not boiling) water.
- Next, fill your gourd about ⅔ with loose yerba mate.
- Tap the yerba mate to one side of the gourd to create a “little mountain” and a “little valley” inside.
- Moisten the “little valley” with cool water. Just a splash. Don’t flood the “little mountain.”
- Gently insert the filter tip of the tea straw into the “little valley.”
- Pour hot water into the “little valley” about halfway up the gourd, still keeping the tip of the “little mountain” dry.
- Sip this first pour right away. Make sure the tea straw is flowing well. Make sure the water is the right temperature. Drink until there is no more water left in the gourd.
- Now you are ready to pour sips for the friends and family in your yerba mate circle. Each person receives a half-full gourd. They sip right away, drinking all of the tea until the straw gurgles. Then they pass the gourd back to the pourer for refilling.
- Traditionally, only one person does all the pouring for the group. This person is called the “cebador.” She will keep pouring for each person in turn until the hot water runs out or the herb runs out of flavor, then replace as needed.
- Avoid touching the straw! Stirring makes all the herb steep at once, and it can also make the straw clog. One of the cebador’s most difficult jobs is to gracefully discourage newcomers to the yerba mate circle from touching the straw.
Tereré is easy to drink and hard to say. (It’s pronounced tear-eh-ray.) Basically, tereré is an ice-cold variation of the yerba mate circle. Tereré is very popular in tropical South America, especially after siesta or before they go out dancing. It’s ridiculously refreshing.
Fill a pitcher with water and ice.
Stir in some fresh lime juice and sweetener to taste.
Fill a small metal or glass cup with loose yerba mate.
Insert a tea straw to the bottom of the cup.
Pour, sip, share, repeat.