Mate [Maa-téé] is an infused drink, made from the dried leaves of a native South American plant. It will provide you with healthy nutrients and keep you energized.
“The health benefits of tea, the strength of coffee and the euphoria of chocolate”
Indigenous South Americans called mate “the drink of the Gods”. Today mate is said to offer “the health benefits of tea, the strength of coffee and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage. Sounds good, but what’s behind it?
Mate contains a number nutrients, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins (A, C, B, E) and minerals (magnesium, iron, calcium). This makes mate very high in antioxidants: it contains 90% more antioxidants than an average green tea. Bottomline, all these antioxidants are good for you.
Further, mate also contains caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. These stimulants are also found in coffee, tea and chocolate. They increase mental energy, clarity and focus. Unlike coffee, mate is acid forming, so it is less likely to cause stomach acid and nervousness or jitters.
Mate, a by-law-defined-national-drink
Mate is immensely popular in South America. In Argentinia, where it is defined by law as the “national infusion”, mate is arguably more popular than Messi, Evita and pope Francis* combined. Mate has a lot of tradition and folklore to it. Drinking mate is common social practice, and if you are ever to share a guampa (the special mate-cup) with an Argentinian, keep following etiquette rules and vocabulary in mind:
- The straw you drink from is called the “bombilla” – don’t call it “the straw”
- Never remove the bombilla when you are drinking
- “Cebador” is the person preparing and serving the brew
- Prepare mate with hot-but-not-boiling water
- Each person will drink all the water from the mate until you hear a sucking noise, which is not considered rude
- When taking too long, others will say “it's not a microphone” – polite for “pass the damn bowl”
In short, mate is:
- A nutritional powerhouse containing vitamins and minerals
- A natural energizer
- Etiquette: drinking mate the traditional-way with South-Americans can be more stressful than a dinner with your parents-in-law
- A drink from the Gods