“It’s like matcha, but it’s not matcha.”
When you travel in South America, you can’t escape getting a healthy taste of yerba mate. Before the European colonization, mate was originally cultivated by the indigenous people of Guarani and Tupi communities from southern Brazil. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen has her own yerba mate recipe, which she advises not to drink before going to bed.
Today, yerba mate can be found in different energy drinks in supermakets or as canned iced tea. Yerba mate actually means “mate herb”, and it starts as a shrub then grows into a tree with evergreen leaves that contain caffeine. Each tree can grow up to 49 feet tall, 2 inches wide. The yerba mate leaves are small, greenish-white with four petals. It even has a red drupe fruit. The plant is commonly grown in South America, mostly in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil.
The Brazilian infusion is prepared by filling up a gourd up to 3/4 full with dry leaves of the mate plant. Then filling it up with hot but non-boiling water. Sugar is optional. Like Gisele says, it’s like matcha, but it’s not matcha.
In South America, drinking mate with friends is a social practice. Just take a few sips then pass it between friends. In certain countries, you can also see people walking on the streets carrying mate flask in their hands.
Try out Gisele’s recipe at home, or make sure to sip on a few the next time you travel to South America!
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