Yerba Mate is an incredibly healthy caffeinated drink most commonly consumed in Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Many antioxidants, minerals and vitamins are contained within the plant (actually more than even in Green tea) hence it has been said that it "contains practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life". Despite being caffeinated, due to the healthy constituents of the Mate plant it clears your head and gives you a lasting boost of giddy energy with no comedown later, and most importantly no jitters. The complex taste is quite full-bodied, bitter, and mildly earthy.
Tulsi is one of the holiest plants in india, and it is said to promote health in a plethora of bodily and mental departments (Circulatory system, respiratory system, strengthening of the stomach, increased mental accuity etc...). I find that it balances out the caffeine in the mate by giving you a more well rounded state of Awake and aware clarity for the day.
Echinacea leaf, gives this concoction a slightly nutty taste, and although it is not as powerful of an immune system booster as the Echinacea root, I have noticed some rather subtle, but pleasant improvements in my health since I have started using it.
This is my favorite mixture of herbs for morning and daytime. I haven't drank coffee in almost a year (since I discovered Yerba Mate), and I don't miss it even a little. Enough summarization of herbs though, it is time to prepare the Holy Mate!
Ingredients and Utensils:
Yerba Mate Loose leaf (Health Stores usually have some, however I prefer ordering it online since more choices and more authentic Mate is available).
Tulsi Loose Leaf
Echinacea Loose Leaf
1 Hollow Gourd (This is the traditional cup for drinking Yerba Mate. You can get it from the internet, or from certain health food stores, or herbal shops).
1 Bombilla (The traditional straw Yerba Mate is drank with. It has a screen at the bottom end so your herbs don't pass through).
Step 1: Fill Teapot With Water
Put it on the stove, and let it heat up.
While this is going on you can proceed to mix your herbs, though you should watch the pot and turn off the heat once it is steaming.
You don't want to boil the water. I usually turn off the heat once I see a fair bit of steam rising from the container.
Step 2: Fill Gourd With Loose Leaf Yerba Mate
My gourd is large and it takes about 9 or 10 tablespoons of Mate to fill it 1/3 of the way.
Step 3: Add Tulsi Leaf
I've found this is the perfect amount not to overpower all of the other herbs.
Step 4: Add Echinacea Leaf
This is the last herb to add, so make sure that your gourd isn't full more than halfway.
This will ensure you can fill it with enough water later and not waste any herbs. The Tulsi and Echinacea absorb water and expand a lot more than the Yerba Mate, so sometimes if you've filled your gourd too far you will only have a few sips of water to take each time you refill it, hence it is desirable to have it full of herbs at about the halfway point.
Step 5: Shake Shake Shake!
I prefer a circular motion with slight vertical shakes. This has worked perfectly for me.
After you feel you've given it a thorough shake, turn your gourd right-side-up again and tilt about 45 degrees to the side. You want your herbs to have a tilt inside the gourd at about this angle so one side has more herbs than the other.
Make sure this tilt is kept throughout the rest of the process, though I wouldn't worry about it if it isn't. It does make for a better Mate though.
Step 6: Add Lemon
At this point in the process, once your herbs have been shaken and tilted at an angle, you may want to add a few drops of fresh squeezed lemon (not too much) which will boost the vitamin C content of your tea and will also make the mix taste a bit more tart. If you want a less tart taste, don't add the lemon, and the tea will still taste amazing.
Step 7: Wet With Water
Make sure the tea is still tilted and you could either turn your tap to a slight drizzle and stick the Gourd underneath it, or you could take a tablespoon and use that to get the herbs wet.
After doing this, you should leave the gourd on a surface (in my case a mound of fruits, though you could put it in anywhere where it will be supported at an angle), and wait about 3 minutes for the herbs to absorb the water.
Step 8: Insert Bombilla
You are now almost ready for your morning tea!
Step 9: Pour Hot Water Into Gourd
What you want is a temperature of water which is neither too hot to drink, nor too cold to extract the ingredients of the tea, so a slightly steaming pot of water is best.
Once this has been achieved, simply pour the water slowly into the emptier end of your gourd until you have filled it to the top. You may want to leave the tea for a minute before you drink it, but this is not necessary since it will be drank through the Bombilla.
You're done! You can now sip from the Bombilla and enjoy all the glories of Holly Mate, and its glorious kick of clear-minded energy.
Several Tips though:
1. Water is finished when your Bombilla makes that great empty cup straw sound we all know.
2. You can refill the gourd with hot water quite a few times after each cup. No herbs are wasted (I usually use my mix from the morning all day, resulting in probably about 7 or even 8 great tasting refills).
3. IMPORTANT!!! DO NOT STIR THE TEA WITH THE BOMBILLA!!! No, seriously though, not only will you possibly clog the Bombilla or end up drinking some of the leafage, but if someone else is preparing the Mate who has been doing it for a while, you will surely frustrate them. My mom always stirs it and my heart jumps (I've told her many times! lol). Either way, it is quite unnecessary to stir this mix.
4. Yerba Mate is considered a communal drink, so traditionally people will get together over some Mate (somewhat like people do with coffee). When you are enjoying Mate with friends, only one gourd is needed. The gourd is filled and first drank by the host. The tea is quickly drank, then refilled and passed to the next person who quickly drinks it too. This is done until everyone has had a gourd-full.
When drinking with friends, it is somewhat rude to "Bogart" the Gourd. It isn't like coffee, which you can sip on slowly. You quickly finish the drink, refill it, and pass it on.
5. The first sip of the morning usually brings a big smile to one's face. I enjoy drinking it in the sun, then doing a quick stretch or two. This makes for a fantastic morning and start to one's day.
6. You can drink this across the day, and even though it will keep your head clear and energize you, you will still sleep fine (or at least I find that this is how it goes).
7. This is the mixture I've found to be most pleasant to my taste buds, but you're welcome to modify and play around with the herbs and distributions as you wish.
For more information on any of the herbs I've used, here are some sites which I enjoy:
http://www.goyerbamate.com -Carries Paraguayan, Argentinian, and Uruguayan Loose Leaf Yerba Mate, and has alot of good info. (Not the only place to buy Yerba, but I've found that they have my favorite selection).
http://www.mymateworld.com/yerba_mate_health_benefits.htm -More Yerba Mate info (also the main site I believe sells the loose leaf too.
http://www.holy-basil.com/ - Tons of information on Tulsi and its health benefits (anti anxiety, immunity booster etc..), as well as historical info and anything else you might need.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinacea -The glories of Wikipedia =P. Has a bit of info on Echinacea.