An ancient tradition that shifts us into the NOW. But first, you have to get through security.
Me: “No, I’m not drinking marijuana.”
TSA officer: “Miss, please come with me.”
This is how most of my airport experiences start when I decide to travel with my trusty Yerba Maté (yer-bah-mah-tay). Unless I’m in my homeland of Argentina, where the second you land everyone is carrying their “termo” (thermos) “mate” (gourd) and “bombilla” (metal straw).
Maté is a way of life for us.
This is a tradition that dates back to the Guarani natives who now inhabit Paraguay and the Argentine provinces of Misiones and Corrientes. They would plant “yerba mate” near the burial grounds of their ancestors, cultivate and prepare the drink that they would sip and share in a circle amongst family. They believed the spirits of their loved ones would grow with the yerba and pass through their bodies via the drink. Furthermore, they believed it significantly improved their health and wellbeing, giving them increased energy and stamina while keeping them mentally alert. Science has now proven that their beliefs were spot on.
Although we aren’t harvesting the plant ourselves, it’s still a deeply rooted custom that is shared among friends, family, and co-workers. For me, “mateando” is a sacred moment that allows us to be fully present with each other.
‘Mateando’ goes a little something like this:
The person brewing the drink (el cebador) would take a sip through the metal straw (la bombilla) and then pass the drink to someone in the circle. Sometimes clockwise, sometimes at random. Yes, we all drink from the same gourd, similar to the Native Americans who smoked from the same peace pipe. We are all equal, we are all one, and we don’t believe in cooties. In fact, yerba mate has antimicrobial properties.
There are so many benefits to sippin’ on this grass in a gourd!
After sharing the long list of health benefits associated with drinking mate, I’ve converted many a friends and loved ones into maté fiends. Yerba Maté leaves contain 250 nutrients and numerous studies have shown that this ancient shrub is extraordinarily beneficial to humans. Furthermore, according to the Industry Science Journal, maté includes 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and 11 polyphenols, and is very high in antioxidants.
This magical plant is finally making waves in the West! Yerba Maté is giving green tea a run for it’s money. As a matter of fact, Yerba is significantly more effective than green tea due to its high concentration of chlorogenic acid, Caffeoyl derivatives, and saponins. All of which have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, lipid-lowering, and anti-diabetic properties.
Lastly, if all the above is too much to digest, then just know this.
It makes you poop. Big time.