How to make Yerba Mate: Expert Tips for Easy & Awesome mates
If you’re enthusiastic about acquiring the expertise in preparing yerba mate, or if you’ve made an attempt but didn’t quite achieve the desired outcome, there’s no need for discouragement – you’re certainly not alone! Becoming proficient in the art of brewing the ideal cup of yerba mate tea does require some practice.
We’ve guided numerous individuals like yourself in crafting their first mate, and we’ve formulated this simple, step-by-step guide to lead you through the process. It’s designed to empower you to become a maestro in yerba mate preparation, or as it’s known in Argentina, a skilled “Cebador.”
Come along with us as we unveil the secrets to consistently perfecting your mate-making abilities!
First, let’s go through the elements needed to prepare Yerba Mate in the traditional way
Select Your Yerba Mate and Tools: Begin by ensuring you have high-quality yerba mate, a mate cup, and a bombilla (a special metal straw). The choice of yerba mate depends on your personal preference, as it is available in various types and flavors.
Prepare the Mate Cup: Fill the mate cup to about two-thirds full with yerba mate. Prior to inserting the bombilla, cover the top of the mate cup with your hand, turn it upside down, and give it a gentle shake. This step helps bring the finer particles to the top, reducing the risk of the bombilla becoming clogged.
Moisten the Yerba: Tilt the mate cup until the yerba covers the side and nearly reaches the top. Then, pour hot water (make sure it’s not boiling) into the bottom half of the mate cup. Allow the yerba mate to sit and absorb the water for a few moments, as this enhances the flavor.
Insert the Bombilla: Carefully place the filtered end of the bombilla into the yerba at an angle, ensuring it reaches the bottom of the cup securely.
Pour the Hot Water: Now, you can pour the hot water (at a temperature of 140-158°F or 60-70°C) into the yerba mate. Always pour the water into the same spot to maintain a consistent flavor.
Enjoy Your Yerba Mate: Your yerba mate is now ready to be enjoyed. You can refill the mate cup with hot water as many times as you like until the yerba mate loses its flavor.
Clean the Mate Cup and Bombilla: After you’ve finished, empty the yerba mate from the cup, rinse the bombilla with warm water, and clean the inside of the mate cup. Allow everything to dry completely before storing.
Congratulations! You’ve now mastered the traditional method of preparing yerba mate. Savor your delightful beverage and the invigorating energy it provides!
Step by Step: How to Make Yerba Mate the traditional way
Learn how to make Yerba Mate at home quick and easy with this tutorial. Follow below steps to learn the basics to always get your mates right.
1) Fill your mate gourd with 3/4 of Yerba Mate
To embark on the journey of preparing your Yerba Mate, start by deciding on the specific blend you’d like to savor. Once chosen, take your mate cup and fill it to 3/4 full with your selected loose leaf Yerba Mate. A typical serving size ranges from 30-50 grams, contingent upon your mate gourd’s volume.
Be cautious not to overfill it. As the mate leaves absorb water, they expand. Overfilling may lead to a clogged mate, making it challenging to drink from. Conversely, underfilling your mate cup, with less than 3/4 of Yerba Mate, results in a higher water-to-Yerba Mate ratio. This has a twofold effect: it allows the bombilla to move around too freely (which is not desirable), and it shortens the lifespan of your mate, causing it to become “lavado” or washed out, more quickly. Properly portioning your Yerba Mate ensures a balanced, enjoyable drinking experience.
2) Shake your mate and make a “montañita”
In the second stage of preparing your Yerba Mate, you aim to evenly distribute the blend’s components: leaves, stems, and dust. To achieve this, use one hand to cover the top of the mate cup and gently turn it upside down.
This action allows the heavier components, such as the larger leaves and stems, to settle at the bottom of your mate cup. Meanwhile, the smaller pieces and dust particles will rise to the middle and top of the gourd. Since the filter of your bombilla will be in contact with the bottom of the mate, it’s crucial to ensure the larger components are there to prevent obstruction of water flow.
Once you have inverted the mate to align all the components, carefully shake it to create a 45-degree slope within the gourd. This is what is commonly referred to as a “montañita.” As you will discover in subsequent steps, this angled arrangement plays a critical role in prolonging the life cycle of your mate.
3) Pour warm water to soak the dry leaves
Upon creating your perfect montañita, the next step is to gently moisten the mate leaves to prepare them for brewing. This process is vital as it helps prevent the leaves from burning when you add hot water later on.
To do this, pour a small amount of lukewarm water at the bottom of the slope, specifically in the area where you will later insert the bombilla. Focus on moistening only the lower part of the slope, as this initial soak is meant to prepare the yerba leaves for the brewing process.
As the leaves absorb the water, they begin to swell, which helps to prevent the bombilla straw from getting clogged during drinking.
The temperature of the water at this stage is crucial as it sets the tone for the flavor profile of your mate experience. Using room temperature water will yield a milder mate, while hotter water will result in a stronger, more robust flavor.
Through experimentation and feedback from numerous mate drinkers, we’ve found that the ideal water temperature for this initial soak falls between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius (140-158°F).
4) Introduce the bombilla in the mate
With your Yerba Mate perfectly aligned and adequately soaked, the next step is to insert the bombilla (the metal straw with a filter at one end). To do this effectively and avoid potential clogging, follow these steps:
Cover the Top of the Bombilla: Place your index finger over the top end of the bombilla. This helps to prevent a vacuum effect, which could draw in small leaves or dust, potentially clogging the straw.
Insert the Bombilla: Gently introduce the bombilla into the mate cup, positioning it diagonally across the slope you have created. You should aim to insert it until the filtered end of the bombilla makes contact with the bottom of the mate cup.
Release Your Finger: Only after the bombilla is securely in place, and the filter is at the bottom of the cup, should you release your finger from the top of the bombilla.
By following these steps, you help ensure a smooth flow of liquid through the bombilla, minimizing the risk of clogging and ensuring a more enjoyable mate-drinking experience.
5) Serve your first mate
You’ve made it so far so now it’s time to serve the first mate. You will want to have hot water available in your thermos. The water temperature to enjoy a perfect mate should be between 75 and 85 degrees (167-185°F).
It all comes down to preference and having in mind that hotter temperatures mean stronger mates with the downside that the life cycle will be shorter. You will want to avoid boiling water. We suggest to start in the middle with water at 80 degrees (176°F).
Slowly add hot water at the base of the slope and notice how the montanita starts raising. You don’t want to pour the water all the way to the top to keep some of the top leaves dry. After a few rounds when the mate starts getting losing intensity you will use them to extend the life of your mate.
Congratulations you are now ready to try your first mate! Drink and repeat this step as many times at it pleases you. Congratulations, you’ve successfully prepared your mate, and now it’s time to savor the first sip! Ensure that you have hot water ready in your thermos, with the temperature ideally set between 75 and 85 degrees Celsius (167-185°F).
Remember, the temperature of the water is crucial as it influences the strength of the mate. Hotter water results in a stronger mate, but be mindful that it also shortens the drink’s life cycle. To avoid scalding the yerba leaves and to maintain the optimal taste, it’s important to stay away from boiling water. A good starting point is water heated to around 80 degrees Celsius (176°F).
To serve the mate:
Pour the Hot Water: Gently add the hot water at the base of the slope. Watch as the montañita begins to rise, but be careful not to pour water all the way to the top. You want to keep some of the top leaves dry.
Savor the Moment: You’re now ready to enjoy your first sip of mate! Drink and relish the unique flavors of this South American delight.
Repeat: Continue this process, adding hot water as many times as you’d like, to extend the mate experience.
Each round you enjoy will slowly use up the mate’s intensity. However, by keeping some leaves dry initially, you can prolong the life of your mate, ensuring you get the most out of this cherished ritual.
Enjoy your mate and embrace the moment!
How to Make Yerba Mate in Only 5 Steps | Video Tutorial
What type of Yerba Mate should I choose?
Considering the wide array of mate options at your disposal, selecting the right type of yerba mate tea ultimately comes down to your individual taste preferences. We recommend conducting a taste experiment with various varieties to discern your preferred choice. For your initial mate experience, it’s advisable to begin with milder yerba mates, as they are generally more forgiving when it comes to preparation.
If you find the milder options to be too gentle for your liking, don’t hesitate to venture into stronger or more robust varieties later on. However, it’s typically a smoother transition from lighter to stronger yerba mates, rather than the reverse. It’s worth mentioning that there are also yerba mate variations infused with additional fruits or other ingredients, which tend to have a milder flavor profile and are an excellent choice for beginners.
To ignite your yerba mate journey, we’ve compiled a list of diverse brewing methods below. Each approach offers a distinct way to relish this South American treasure. So, explore, experiment, and, above all, savor every delightful sip!
Alternative Ways Of Making Yerba tea
What’s wonderful about yerba mate is its remarkable versatility, granting you the freedom to experiment and customize the preparation process to align with your individual tastes. Just as people possess their unique characteristics, the methods of enjoying yerba mate can also be distinctive and personalized.
Traditional Method (South American Style)
- Tools Needed: Yerba mate, a mate gourd, and a bombilla (metal straw).
- Instructions: Fill the gourd ¾ full with yerba mate, cover the top, and shake to mix. Add warm water to one side, let it soak, then insert the bombilla at an angle. Pour hot water (not boiling) over the yerba mate when ready to drink.
- Tools Needed: French press and loose-leaf yerba mate.
- Instructions: Add yerba mate to the French press, pour hot water, and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Press down the plunger slowly and serve.
Tea Infuser / Tea Bag
- Tools Needed: Tea infuser or pre-packaged yerba mate tea bag.
- Instructions: Place yerba mate in the infuser or use a tea bag, pour hot water over it, and let it steep for 3-5 minutes.
Cold Brew (Tereré)
- Tools Needed: Yerba mate, cold water, and a jar or pitcher.
- Instructions: Add yerba mate to the container, fill with cold water, and let it steep in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Serve chilled.
Iced Yerba Mate
- Tools Needed: Yerba mate, hot water, ice.
- Instructions: Brew yerba mate with hot water, let it cool, and then pour over ice.
Yerba Mate Latte
- Tools Needed: Yerba mate, hot water, milk (dairy or plant-based).
- Instructions: Prepare yerba mate with hot water, add your choice of milk, and sweeten if desired.
Yerba Mate with Citrus or Herbs
- Tools Needed: Yerba mate, hot water, lemon/orange slices, or fresh herbs.
- Instructions: Brew yerba mate, add slices of citrus or fresh herbs like mint or lemon balm, and enjoy.
Experimenting with Flavors
Feel free to get creative and add spices like cinnamon, cloves, or ginger to create a unique and personalized yerba mate experience.
Armed with these diverse techniques and creative concepts, you have a multitude of avenues to explore and discover your preferred manner of relishing yerba mate. Embrace the joy of experimentation!
This particular preparation method offers a mellower flavor profile, and should you wish to intensify the taste to better suit your preferences, you can adjust the temperature upwards or extend the brewing time with the yerba mate leaves.