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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Samovar Loose Leaf Mate Tea 'Yerba Mate'

Tea Information:
Tea: Yerba Mate
Type: Mate Tea
Packaging: Loose Leaf
Company: Samovar
Purchase: Here
Description: Flavor Profile: Mineral rich, earthy and sweet with notes of bran, hay, and sweet grass.

Tea Story: Our honeyed take on Yerba Mate sweetened up a bit with the delightful anise flavor of organic licorice root. This herbal is the only herbal we have that has caffeine. Yerba Mate was originally sipped
by the Guyarani Indians in South America. Today, Yerba Mate has become a daily ritual all over South America and now San Francisco too.

In the fields and villages of rural Paraguay, Yerba Mate consumption provides a reflection of the strongest traditional values of rural Paraguay. When receiving guests, a host always invites them to drink Yerba Mate not just out of courtesy but also because of tradition.

Yerba Mate is customarily sipped from a gourd, called aguampa, through a metal straw, called a bombilla, while being passed from person to person. In this fashion, Yerba Mate is consumed in the presence of family, friends, co-workers or guests because it provides an opportunity for social interaction.

People take the time to visit, share ideas, and get to know each other while drinking Yerba Mate These customs demonstrate their place in Paraguayan culture as a tradition based in community and regard for others.

The people of Paraguay have enjoyed Yerba Mate for hundreds of years. Yerba Mate has been regarded as a traditional herbal medicine and healthy daily ritual throughout regions of South America. In Europe, it has been recommended as a stimulant that reduces stress, obesity, headaches, and arthritis.

The nutrients of this naturally caffeinated drink comprise of 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, potent antioxidants, and 196 active compounds (superior to green tea's active compounds). Yerba Mate does contain caffeine (in spite of the "myth" about "mateine"). However, compared to coffee, Yerba Mat?contains up to 50% less caffeine. As a result, a serving of Yerba Mate provides a more balanced stimulation without the nervous jitters often associated with coffee and other highly-caffeinated beverages.

Yerba Mate is more than just a yummy herbal infusion - it is used as a tonic, a diuretic, and as a stimulant to aid gastric function in herbal medicine systems throughout South America and is regarded as a rejuvenating, healthy drink to aid in everyday life.

We tasted a lot of Mate out there, but finally hooked up with a small collective of family farmers in Paraguay to supply us.

We chose them for two reasons:
1. We really liked the full, strong, bittersweet, vegetal taste of their product.
2. We wanted to help support them maintain their traditional farming methods and culture. There are other small farmers all over South America who are currently seriously threatened by big agro-business, and they are being tempted to convert all of their farms to soybean production. The problem with soybean farming is that in a few years their land gets depleted of its nutrients, they use pesticides and chemicals to produce the biggest crops in the fastest way possible, and their local economy is threatened by big-business interests.

Brew up the best Yerba Mate around, and help to support these small family farms. We think mate tastes best when sipped in the traditional gourd, guampa, from the traditional metal straw, bombilla.

Samovarian Poetry: Bittersweet & vegetal, a antioxidant boosting beverage from South America

Food Pairing: Yerba Mate earthy and slightly bitter, but it pairs well with morning pastries: raisin bran muffins, croissants with lots of butter, Samovar's Quinoa Ginger Waffles.

Ingredients: Organic Argentinian shade-grown yerba maté.

Steep Information:
Amount: 2 tsp
Water: 500ml filtered water 175°F
Tool: Breville One-Touch Tea Maker BTM800XL
Steep Time: 3 minutes
Served: Hot

Tasting Notes:
Dry Leaf Smell: bitter, vegetal, grassy
Steeped Tea Smell: grassy, vegetal, a little sweet
Flavor: sweet at first, then vegetal and grassy
Body: Light
Aftertaste: bitter
Liquor: translucent yellow-green

Read Steepster for other reviews here

I do not like grassy teas or herbal infusions, and this was grassy, even though a bit naturally sweet. BLEH

Rating: 1/4 leaves

Leaf system:
1=Bleh! not again if it were free
2=Acceptable, if it were free or there were limited other tea options
3=I might purchase this tea from time to time, or select it while out
4=A staple in our cupboard from now on, I will purchase and keep purchasing

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