I drank my first sip of Yerba Mate (mah TAY) while working a barista job at a natural foods grocery in Boulder, Colorado. Thinking the greenish tea tasted bitter and grassy, I switched back to coffee immediately. While researching for natural, healthy stimulants for a hiking trip, my boyfriend Ryan came across mate tea. We decided, instead of chemically prepared instant coffee, to bring mate tea as our morning stimulant. I was hooked. Although both contain caffeine, Mate provided me with prolonged energy unlike coffee causing jitters and a crash.
Yerba Mate originates in South America. Considered an herbal tea (not a green tea!), yerba mate is made by steeping the dried leaves and twigs of the mate plant. Mate can be prepared hot, cold, or even as a latte. Mate is rich in antioxidants, numerous vitamins and minerals, and amino acids. Instead of delving more into the health benefits of mate, here are a few articles I recommend to peruse.
I particularly wanted to write about mate to introduce the idea of iced mate. Being from Texas, sweet and unsweetened iced teas are southern food staples. When I first moved in with my boyfriend Ryan, one of the only kitchen appliances he owned was an iced tea maker. Of course, I thought the idea of an iced tea maker was hilarious and nothing more than a glorified coffee pot. Needless to say, that ice tea maker made a great addition to the shelves of Goodwill.
With iced mate in mind, Ryan and I purchased a big bag of loose leaf Mate from Whole Foods last week. For some reason or another, I love loose leaf tea but tea bags work just as well. I recommend purchasing organic mate. I actually think organic mate is the only kind of mate found in stores (don’t quote me on that). Whole Foods provides a variety of brands of yerba mate. I recommend any.
I feel obligated to inform first time mate drinkers. Mate is bitter. Mate might be considered an acquired taste. However, the bitter taste of mate can be masked by adding juice and/or sweeteners.
How to make Yerba Mate Hot and Cold:
I have been experimenting with different flavors in my iced mate. Lately, I steep my mate in orange juice, apple juice, and water. After steeping, I add agave or honey for sweetener.
1.5 tsp/8 oz of water at 208 degrees F.
Steep for 5-6 minutes.
Cold Brewed Iced Mate:
15 tablespoons of yerba mate/gallon
Cheesecloth or coffee filter (if using looseleaf)
Sweetener (optional) – honey, agave, sugar
If making your own juice (per gallon):
Blender or Juicer
(or more depending on the efficiency of your juice/blender)
For the record:
I do not own a juicer. I own a Nutribullet. I blend my fruits and add the juice and pulp to my pitcher. Since I am using loose leaf tea, I will eventually filter the pulp along with the tea leaves with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
I practice the art of cold brew tea. I do not add hot water. I add my tea leaves (or bags) to my pitcher along with my juice and fill the rest with cold water. If you are not making your own juice, simply start using half juice/half water in your pitcher. Depending on your tastes, add more or less of either for your next batch.
After adding tea, juices, and water, steep your tea overnight. I do not add sweetener until steeping is complete. I do this so I have a finished product to taste for to decide if I need to add sweetener. If using store-bought juices, your mate will probably be sweet enough.
Wanting to add a sweetener to your cold brew? Here’s a trick!
DO NOT ADD DIRECTLY TO PITCHER. Since the mate is cold, the sweetener will not blend well. Add your honey, agave, or sugar to a small bowl or mug. Then, add a small amount of hot water. Mix. Then add watery sweetener to pitcher.
Enjoy your delicious glass of cold brewed mate!