Serving a perfect yerba mate starts with the water.

Serving a perfect yerba mate starts with the water.
Aysén Information

More than a hot beverage, yerba mate is a grand tradition in Patagonia. This article will teach you all you need to know to prepare a great mate for yourself and your friends.

It all begins with the water.  You’ll need to heat your water to between 70 - 80?C, or for those without a thermometer handy, the point just BEFORE boiling.  Never use water that has boiled!  Use the freshest water available, preferably without a lot of added chlorine.  Fill your thermos and set it to the side.  Next, fill your mate cup or calabaza ¾ full with yerba mate.  Fill the cup with the water and place the bombilla  into the yerba mate so that it extends to the bottom and rests against one edge.  From this point on, the bombilla will remain stationary. 
The person who is the server has an important job, which begins with drinking the first cup or two, often called the mate del zonzo (mate of the fool).  The goal of drinking these first cups is to test the water temperature and flavor before refilling and passing the hot beverage on to the first person on their right.  Each person drinks the entire serving of water before passing the cup back to the server to refill for the next person.  This process goes around and around until the yerba begins to lose its flavor (usually around ten fills, depending on the age of the yerba).  At this point the yerba is said to be washed, and the server should dispose of it and refill the mate cup with a new round of yerba. 
Some Practical Advice:  Yerba Mate is known and loved (by many) for its bitter flavor. Nevertheless, some prefer to add sugar or other flavorings to their yerba mate, which is also quite tasty.  Typically when drinking yerba mate with others, the person with the cup will take several quick sips to finish the gourd, and promptly pass it back to the server so that others who are waiting can also have a turn. When a person is done drinking mate, but the group is still passing it around, it is customary to say “thank you” to the server as you return it, indicating that you are done.  Once you say thank you, the host will not offer you another round of yerba mate. Nevertheless you are welcome to remain for more conversation!

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