In case you need to recap, I recommend watching this short video. The following ideas add to the same basics, but will broaden your yerba-flavoured horizons!
Ready to experiment?
1) Try Mate with milk: ideal for the little ones.
Making a mate with milk is not hard at all. It will make the flavour be less strong, and because of the milk, it makes it the best option to get kids started in the tradition. You just need to proceed as usual, like you would do for a mate with water. The only difference is that you will pour in milk, instead of water. It’s very important to remember not to boil it (it will burn the yerba, spoiling its flavour); a good trick is to put the milk out of the stove just before it starts to boil. Do check the temperature it’s not too high if you’re serving the mate to a young one, and remember to sip it slowly. Just like with water, you can put the milk in a thermos to preserve it warm for a longer time.
2) Drink Mate with sugar or other sweeteners.
Yerba can be quite bitter, specially if you’re not used to its flavour. Purists will disagree with me, and I risk being burnt at the stake for saying this (LOL!), but… I like my mates sweet! It all depends on your personal taste, although I wouldn’t recommend to put too much sugar – for example, if you’re drinking with someone else, you can put half a spoon of sugar every couple of rounds or so (when it gets bitter again). Just make sure the person you’re drinking with likes them sweet as well! Another way to do this, specially if you’re camping or at the beach and you don’t want to be bothered with adding a bit of sugar every few ‘cebadas’, is to just pour some sweetener directly in the thermos you’re serving from. If you’re watching your weight or want to try something different, there are alternatives ways of sweetening your mates: stevia is a perfect choice. It’s a small, green plant, native to Paraguay, and its leaves have a nectar-like taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. Honey is the perfect choice for people who suffer of acid reflux caused by the sugared water, and the best way to use it is adding a spoonful of it to the hot water, letting it dissolve before pouring the mates.
3) Sip Mate with other herbs or peals.
An interesting way of experimenting with flavours and properties is to add other herbs, citric peals, dried fruits, etc. If you want to add orange or lemon peals, the best way is to let them dry, chop them and finally adding them to the rest of the yerba. If you need an extra caffeine boost, try adding half a spoonful of ground coffee (plus a couple of spoonful of sugar) to the yerba and kick the day off! Herbs such as peppermint, verbena and lemon balm can be mixed with the yerba, creating interesting flavours. You can also choose herbs for their health benefits, which can add to the already interesting properties the yerba mate possesses. If none of this seems particularly exciting, you can try replacing your gourd with a grapefruit: cut it in half, empty it out, and fill about half of it with yerba (squeeze it a bit to get a better flavour).
4) Have Mate as tea: “mate cocido”.
Yes, there is also a way of drinking yerba mate without the need of a bombilla. This is known as “boiled mate”, and it can be bought in tea-bags, to prepare it like tea. Traditionally, it is done by boiling the yerba in water, then strained and served in cups. In terms of flavour, it’s not as bitter as the mate; however, it’s as stimulating and nutritious!
5) Pour Mate with cold water: “Tereré”.
This is exactly like the original mate, except the water is cold – the perfect alternative for hot summer days! If you’re curious, simply watch this video to learn more about it:
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter how you choose to drink mate… but perhaps, the most important way is to do it socially!
“Amigo, cebate unos mates!” (Friend, pour some mates!)