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Yerba Mate “For Mind, Body and Soul”

  There is an old Guarani Indian legend that relates the origin of the Guarani in the Forests of Paraguay. According to the legend, the ancestors of the Guarani at the time in the distant past crossed the great and spacious ocean from a far land to settle the Americas. The found the land both wonderful yet full of dangers; through diligence and effort they subdued the land and inauguarated a new civilization.

The Guarani tribes worked the land and became excellent craftsmen. They looked forward to the coming of a tall, fair-skinned, blue eyed, bearded God (Pa’i Shume) who, according to legend, descended from the skies and expressed his pleasure with the Guarani. He brought religious knowledge and imparted on them certain agricultural practices to benefit during times of drought and pestilence as well as on a day-to-day basis. Significantly, He unlocked the secrets of health and medicine and revealed the healing qualities of native plants. One of the most important of these secrets was how to harvest and prepare the leaves of the Yerba Mate tree. The Mate beverage was meant to ensure health, vitality and longevity.

In the early 1500’s when the Spaniards were searching for riches at the base of the Amazon, they discovered not their longed for gold and silver, but the vigorously healthy tribe of Guarani. The natives welcomed them and encouraged them to drink an unfamiliar beverage that was regarded with high esteem by the tribesmen. Famished from their travels, the Spaniards immediately felt the invigorating effects of Yerbe Mate and its ability to nourish the body and the mind.

Mate (ilex paraguariensis) is an evergreen member of the holly family. It grows wild in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Brazil, but it is most abundant in Paraguay. Among the native Guarani, the natural use of Mate for healthful purposes has persisted. They use it to boost immunity, cleanse and detoxify the blood, tone the nervous system, restore youthful haircolour, retard aging, combat fatigue, stimulate the mind, control the appetite, reduce  the effects of debilitating diseases and eliminate insomnia. Mate contains over 190 active compounds, including Vitamins A,C, E, B1, B2, and B complex, iron, potassium, manganese, chlorophyll and amino acids.

 

Mate Friendships

Mate is more than just a good drink for the body; it is good for the soul. Drinking it can be a form of meditation or reflection – allowing the goodness to infuse into the body while stimulating and resting the mind. But this wholeness does not always happen alone.

In traditional Mate use, the cup, or gourd which is called a calabasse is often shared among close friends and family – using the same straw, or bombilla. Those who share the Mate cup join in a kind of bond where the sharing of the health and meditation of the Yerba Mate is a sign of total acceptance and friendship.

In Argentina and Brazil, fellow gouchos or farmers, knit together by the taming of a wild land, will share Mate around a camp fire to enhance their baonds of companionship. In Buenos Aires it is common to find close-knit families or lovers, or two or three best friends sharing a Mate on an outing to a local park or beach.

In all these places, when an individual or group finally offers to include you in their Mate sharing, it should be taken as the highest possible compliment and entered in with great appreciation.

In a traditional Mate sharing event, there is one person who pours the hot water and serves up the cup. At a party of close friends, this person is often the host. At outings or at home, this responsibility may change from one sharing to the next.

Generally the server will start a new infusion and then take the first drink. He or she will drink all the water in the Mate cup, taking several good long sips until air is heard coming through the bombilla. Once done, the server will again fill the cup with hot water and hand it to the next drinker, who will also drink the entire contents of the cup before handing it back to the server. The cup will once again be filled and handed to the next person, who does the same. This process will continue, going around the circle many times, until there is no flavour left in the infusion.

 

Care Instructions for Your Bombilla and Calabasse

Before using your calabasse for the first time it must be cured. To do this, fill the calabasse approximately half full with Mate. Fill with hot water and let sit for 48 to 72 hours. Your calabasse will then be ready to use.

Never use soap to clean your calabasse. Rinse it with hot water after use and let it air dry. To clean the bombilla simply rinse it with hot water. The bottom of the bombilla can be removed for cleaning if necessary.

It is best to drink Mate or one type of tea in your calabasse. Foreign flavours may become trapped in the calabasse and alter the taste of the Mate or tea.

 

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