South American Pick Me Up

Today’s post is simple… you don’t really need to know how to cook, nor do you need to chase down hard-to-find ingredients.  It’s a tea-type of beverage, called maté, which I was first introduced to my by stepmom, Marta Bercovitch.  She drinks a steaming cup of maté every morning, out of a silver straw with holes in the bottom.  


The beverage, also known as yerba maté, is widely found in Argentina, although there are variations from other South American countries too.  It is customary to drink the hot maté out of a hollow gourd, using a metal straw.  The tea leaves go directly in the hot water, and fall to the bottom after a minute or two.  Using the special straw, which has a bottom that resembles a closed-off spoon with small holes, you take sips, as the straw prevents you from getting a mouthful of tea leaves.  

Maté has a strong, smokey flavor.  Although it has caffeine, it’s a different kind of caffeine buzz than from coffee.  It’s more energy-giving than the shaky, hyper feeling that I get from coffee.  For me, at least, when I drink maté, my energy is sustained throughout the day.  Because the taste is so strong, I like to make a blend of 1 teaspoon maté leaves and 1 teaspoon loose green tea.  That makes the taste more palatable, as well as cutting down on the caffeine.  Sometimes I’ll add a dash of agave nectar or honey, sometimes not.  I will keep sipping my mug, adding more hot water, sipping, more hot water, etc. throughout the day.  


Variations – add any or all of the following:
– dried orange peel
– almond infused black tea
– dried coconut
– anise seed
– cacao nibs

So, where can you find maté?  Pretty much everywhere.  I buy mine in bulk at either the Food Conspiracy Co-op or Tucson Herb Shop, which is right next door.  You can also find it at Trader Joe’s, in the coffee and tea section, Whole Foods and Sprouts. 

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