So you want to learn how to make yerba mate but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you tried to prepare it on your own and didn’t get the results you expected? Don’t be disappointed, you are not alone! Learning how to brew the perfect yerba mate tea takes practice.
We’ve helped hundreds of people like you to prepare their first mate and have come up with this easy step-by-step guide on how to prepare Yerba Mate that will teach you how to become a master in the art of making yerba mate. Or like we call it in Argentina, an expert Cebador.
Follow along as we share the secrets to always get your mates right!
First, let’s go through the elements needed to prepare Yerba Mate in the traditional way
There are many technics and ways of preparing mate tea, all using a combination of different elements but we encourage you to prepare it in the traditional way to take full advantage of everything that is awesome about yerba mate.
Here is a list of the main items needed:
- Yerba mate: obviously, we need yerba mate tea! Even-though there are hundreds of different types (known as blends) the basics of this guide will be useful for all of them.
- Bombilla: a metal straw with a filter at the tip to sip Yerba Mate and prevent you from swallowing the mate leaves and dust only allowing the water to go through.
- Mate cup: a recipient used to contain the mate leaves.
- Thermos: a flask to keep the warm water at the desired temperature throughout the “mateada”.
- Kettle: you can use an electric one to set the desired temperature or a stone-top one (ideally have a thermometer handy to check the temperature). The water temperature plays a very important role in the preparation.
Step by Step: How to Make Yerba Mate the traditional way
Learn how to make Yerba Mate at home quick and easy with this tutorial. Follow below steps to learn the basics to always get your mates right.
1) Fill your mate gourd with 3/4 of Yerba Mate
After you have selected which blend of Yerba Mate you want to drink start by filling your mate cup with 3/4 parts with loose leaf Yerba Mate. A usual serving will be 30-50 grams depending on the volume of your mate gourd.
You don’t want to fill it more than this cause when you soak the mate leaves they will expand so most certainly your mate will get blocked and you won’t be able to drink much out of it.
Filling less than 3/4 will mean that your mate cup will have a bigger ratio of water to Yerba Mate and two things will happen : the bombilla will move loosely (something you don’t want to happen) and your mate with run its life cycle faster (commonly know as “lavado”).
2) Shake your mate and make a “montañita”
Second step is aligning all the components of the Yerba Mate blend: leaves, stems and dust. To do this cover your mate with one hand and turn it upside down.
The heavier components, those are the larger leaves and stems, will settle at the bottom of your mate cup while the smaller ones and the dust particles will be on the middle and top of the gourd.
As your bombilla filter will be in contact with the bottom of the mate you want to make sure the bigger components are there so they won’t obstruct the water flow.
After inverting the mate to accommodate all components you want to carefully shake it to form a 45 degree slope. This is what’s commonly known as a “montañita”. As you will learn in the next steps this will help extend the life cycle of your mate.
3) Pour warm water to soak the dry leaves
After making your ideal montanita you want to pour some lukewarm water at the bottom of the slope to give the mate leaves its first soak and prevent them from burning. You want to pour water only in the inferior part of the slope which is where the bombilla will be introduced.
When getting the yerba leaves wet they start absorbing water which will further help your bombilla straw not to get clogged.
The water temperature here is very important cause it will set the taste for the rest of your mateada. Give it water at room temperature and your mates will be on the soft side. Adding hotter water will give you the opposite with stronger mates.
We found out that the ideal temperature is somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees (140-158°F).
4) Introduce the bombilla in the mate
Now that your Yerba Mate is properly aligned and soaked its time to introduce the bombilla. To do this we cover the tip of the bombilla with our index finger and introduce it diagonally across the slope we have made until the filter part of the bombilla has made contact with the bottom of the mate.
We don’t want to release our finger before this point to avoid creating a vacuum effect and allowing small leaves our dust to enter the bombilla and potentially clogging it.
5) Serve your first mate
You’ve made it so far so now it’s time to serve the first mate. You will want to have hot water available in your thermos. The water temperature to enjoy a perfect mate should be between 75 and 85 degrees (167-185°F).
It all comes down to preference and having in mind that hotter temperatures mean stronger mates with the downside that the life cycle will be shorter. You will want to avoid boiling water. We suggest to start in the middle with water at 80 degrees (176°F).
Slowly add hot water at the base of the slope and notice how the montanita starts raising. You don’t want to pour the water all the way to the top to keep some of the top leaves dry. After a few rounds when the mate starts getting losing intensity you will use them to extend the life of your mate.
Congratulations you are now ready to try your first mate! Drink and repeat this step as many times at it pleases you.
See? Preparing yerba mate tea can be fast and very simple when using this guide. Follow these steps and in no time, you will be mastering the art of making mate. If you still have some doubts, check our video tutorial showing these same steps in an interactive way.
How to Make Yerba Mate in Only 5 Steps | Video Tutorial
What type of Yerba Mate should I choose?
With so many options of mate choosing what type of yerba mate tea to drink will come down to personal preference. We encourage you to try different types before picking up a favourite. As your first mate we encourage you to use softer yerba mates which are more forgiving to prepare.
You can always try a stronger or more intensive one later if this is too soft but we want to go from less to more and not the other way around. You should also know there are other types of yerba mate, with added fruits or ingredients, which also are ideal for beginners as they are on the soft side.
Below you can find some more inspirations on different ways on how to brew yerba mate.
Alternative Ways Of Making Yerba tea
The fun thing about yerba mate is that you can play around to find the best way of preparation that will result in the best experience for you. There are many ways of brewing it as there are people. Below are some ideas on how to make yerba mate tea in different ways.
If you thought yerba mate can only be drank hot, you are missing on a great treat! Most countries where yerba mate is harvested and drank daily get very hot in the summer months so naturally people adapted it to cold brewing in a refreshing way.
This version of cold mate, or mate frio, is named Terere. It’s prepared in the same way we explained before with the exception that it will be a cold brewed Yerba Mate. Add some extra ice or even fruits to make it even more refreshing!
Some brands even have their own Terere blend with added ingredients so you can drink straight out of the packet.
Mate con Leche
Again, here we have something that will surprise you! Yerba Mate can also be prepared using milk instead of water. This is called Mate de leche and its a children’s favourite. You can drink it with warm milk or hot at the same temperature that you would drink a traditional mate , so 75-85 degrees.
The key here is not to let the milk boil. Sweetening the milk can also help reduce the bitterness in your mate.
Not always you have the necessary elements at your hand to prepare yerba mate in the traditional way so here we present you a great alternative, mate cocido. This is brewed in a similar way to your everyday green tea. You can use the ready to go mate cocido in tea bags but you can also prepare it using a tea strainer. Just add a few grams of your regular yerba mate tea and pour hot water to your cup.
This way of preparing yerba mate gives you a mellow taste so depending on your preference you will need to adjust the temperature up or leave the mate leaves brewing for longer if you desire a more intensive taste.
Mate using a French Press
Another option we present you is how to make Yerba Mate in a French press. A relatively fast and extremely easy way to prepare Yerba Mate. Add a couple of spoons of Yerba Mate to your frenches press and let it sit for a couple of minutes as it brews. This is a great option to invite your guests to try some Yerba Mate tea at your Sunday Brunch.
We hope you have found our guideline on how to make yerba mate and tips useful in your exciting journey to start becoming a master Cebador. We encourage you to keep an open mind when preparing yerba mate and don’t take it so seriously. Experiment with different water temperatures or add ingredients to discover new flavors. Be creative and let us know in the comments how it goes!
Remember to check our store to find over 100 types of yerba mate and all the accessories you will need!