Mate is the most popular hot drink of Argentina and in particular, Buenos Aires. In this city of people that never sleep, Mate gives the Argentineans extrodinary energy. As one man here told me, “how else do you think people stay out all night dancing and barely sleep. It´s Mate.”
But don´t get the wrong idea, Mate is no drug. Actually it is anything but unhealthy for you. The herb tea is full of vitamins and minerals, a powerful antioxidant, and it lowers cholestoral.
Drinking Mate is a daily part of life for most Argentineans, especially women and young people between the ages 12 to 19. In 2004, research results of a survey showed that 90% of Argentineans consumed Mate everyday. What is even more interesting is that even during and after the economic crisis of 2001, there was no variation in how much mate was bought. Every year, more than 506 million pounds of mate get drank in Argentina.
“Mate is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. The straw is called a bombilla, in Spanish or a bomba, in Portuguese and the gourd is known as a mate or a guampa. In the past few years, Mate is available in a “tea-bag” under the name”Cruz de Malta” (Maltese Cross).”
Recently I bought a gourd from a gypsy near Calle Florida for only ten pesos(three dollars). I was a little hesitant to do this at first because I thought my gourd should be of better quality. Coincidentally, the pilot for Pink Floyd was also comparing the crafts to the more expensive gourd he had just aquired and assured me that there was little difference.
I also purchased a big bag of Mate to start using my new cup. Two pounds only cost me four pesos in the supermarket, so it´s not a waste if I don´t like the beverage. I heard the drink is really bitter; make sure to mix in some sugar or honey.