This Mate hails from Brazil. It is dried without smoke, and has a large leaf cut, without stems or dust. The brew yields a smooth, verdant cup of mate, and offers a bright contrast to an aged or smoked leaf.
Mate was first discovered by the Guarana, a people who inhabited the region that includes southern Brazil, Paraguay and northeastern Argentina. According to legend, the plant was discovered by divine intervention. The story goes that many centuries ago, the goddesses of the Moon and Clouds decided to pay Earth a visit. They touched down in the jungle and were greeted by a vicious Yaguareté, a type of jaguar. Just as they were about to be attacked, an old man appeared out of the trees and fought off the beast saving their lives. To repay him for this heroic act, the goddesses presented the old man with a new type of plant, mate, with which he could prepare a drink of friendship. The old man prepared the beverage for his family and from there its popularity grew, steadily becoming the drink of choice for Latin American social gatherings.
While still a relatively novel commodity in North America, Mate's popularity in parts of Latin America is massive. In Uruguay consumption is so widespread that the government saw fit to enact a law that bans Mate drinking while driving for fear of accidents caused by spilling hot water. In Argentina, where mate is the national drink, it is not uncommon to see people toting calabash gourds, (the traditional container), and thermoses for rapid preparation on the go. Many Argentinean gas stations even provide free hot water to travelers so they can prepare a cup.
Bring filtered or spring water to 180°F. Add 1 tsp of tea leaves to an 8oz cup. Pour boiling water over the tea leaves and let steep 4 minutes.
Mate is traditionally prepared in a hollowed calabash gourd known as a mate or guampa. The gourd is packed anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 full of leaf and then filled with hot, but not boiled water. (160 - 180°F) Next, a stylized silver straw tipped with a built in strainer, the bombadillo, is inserted into the gourd. The brewed mate is sipped through the bombadillo. Once finished, the mate may re-brewed upwards of 10 times.