A traditional beverage in many South American countries, Yerba Maté is high in caffeine, although it comes from a plant in the holly family and is therefore not classified as a tea.
How to Prepare Yerba Maté
A full-bodied beverage that invigorates the body and mind like a warm southern breeze. The leaves are from a tree indigenous to South America that is harvested twice a year.
Yerba is not one of the multiple members of the Camellia genus, so not a species of tea. It is actually part of the holly family, with a full liquor, lively briskness and a good amount of caffeine. Like tea, yerba has its own traditional infusion method. In South America, where this infusion originates, yerba is not prepared in a teapot but enjoyed from a gourd called a maté. Being made of a dried fruit, the classic gourd maté requires specific care (see below) and has a limited life so we have a selection of matés, the same shape and size, made of more durable and neutral materials such as ceramic or stainless steel.
To prepare the infusion we take a metal straw with a filter at the bottom, called a bombilla, and place it in our maté. Then we add a good quantity of Yerba, up to about a third of our cup, adjusted to our taste. Pour on hot water (75c to 85c) and allow to infuse for a few minutes before drinking. If the infusion is a too bitter simply add more water. Yerba is a very generous leaf and can be reinfused throughout the day by increasing the infusion time a little each steeping.
This is naturally not the whole story as different regions of Brazil and Argentina have their own specific styles of equipment and techniques, but it gives all the basics you need to try a multiple infusion of this invigorating drink.
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