Citation: Dave. "Into My Days: An Experience with Yerba Mate (exp42272)". Erowid.org. Jun 20, 2006. erowid.org/exp/42272
I first began using Yerba Mate in 2003, after my uncle returned from Argentina with a gift of a “mate” (hollowed-out gourd) and a kilo of yerba (herb) to fill it with. I have been an avid user ever since, using it in lieu of coffee to increase my mental alertness and physical endurance. Bonus side effects include increased sweating and very regular bowel movements.
After I finished my first kilo, I sought out more in my local Latin markets
In the first couple of years, I used the traditional gourd and bombilla (a metal straw with a built-in strainer). I would fill the gourd about a third of the way with the herb and then fill it with hot water poured out of a thermos. (The water was poured into the thermos boiling.) This did a fine job, but after a while, my gourd began to develop mould on the inside that gave it a distinct smell. Apparently, this is desirable for the “body” it gives the brewed drink — and it was not unpleasant at first — but it did become a little too funky for my liking later on. At this point, I tossed out the gourd and bought myself a one-cup Bodum French press. Now I wish I had brewed my yerba mate this way from the beginning; it is the superior method of making mate, and no South American will ever convince me otherwise.
To make yerba mate in a French press, I put about two tablespoons of herb in the cylinder and moisten with a little water. This apparently helps to protect the nutrients within the herb. I next, boil my water. They recommend heating it to 70 degrees C, but I simply take my kettle off when it starts boiling and wait for the bubbling to settle down. Around that time, it should be cool enough that it won’t damage the nutrients or draw out any undesirable flavours.
I Cover the press with the plunger up and let the mate steep for a couple of minutes (I’d say 2-5, depending on how strong I like it). At this point, I may add sweetener if I like. A teaspoon of honey should do the trick. Lift the top off the press and swirl it right in. (I don’t use sweetener anymore, as the earthy taste of the tea gives me a Pavlovian sense of satisfaction as I anticipate the effects to come.). Next, I push down on the plunger slowly until I’ve packed the herb down. Let it sit for half a minute or so to let the sediment sink, and then pour slowly into my mug or teacup. A nice Asian or earthenware teacup would be fitting, but my plain old coffee mug suits me just fine.
That’s it. I sip it slowly for more prolonged effects, and reuse the leaves in the cylinder to make another cup, if I like. It will be milder, but it won’t lack kick.
I receive hours of mental and physical stimulation from two cups of the brew described above. I am able to concentrate for longer periods of time, I find I slouch less at my desk, and I am much less prone to distractions, zeroing in on my tasks as if I had blinders on. Any more than two cups makes me feel a little racy, although the effects are much milder than those of straight black coffee. Also, during this period, sweating increases dramatically, urination increases, and my stools become very soft, allowing me to completely void my bowels (or at least it feels this way); in short, I feel a general sense of wellbeing and energy. Part of this could be a placebo effect due to my knowledge that yerba mate, if brewed correctly, contains a host of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, but mostly I am just happy that I can enjoy a safe, legal beverage that gives me all of the benefits of coffee — and many more — with little to none of the side effects.
As with any stimulant, there are negative side effects, including irritability and fogginess if I cannot get my hands on a cup the next day (although this is much less pronounced than with caffeine — no headaches), raciness if I drink too much (although without the outright jumpiness and heart palpitations that caffeine gives me), and frequent urination
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