In this article, I am going to explain how to brew yerba mate tea. As you will find out, there are many ways to do it. Whether you want to do it the traditional way or use a french press or ready prepared tea bags, you will find the instructions here.
Yerba mate tea is surely a healthy, refreshing and tasty drink. This tea is brewed using leaves harvested from the yerba mate plant. Yerba mate products vary in their composition, some contain mostly leaves and others can also include stems and twigs. Some blends can include other herbs and flavors such as mint or citrus. If you want to read more about the history and cultivation of yerba mate, read my article: What is Yerba Mate Tea.
The Traditional Way – Gourd, Bombilla and a Sharing Circle
In the traditional way of brewing and enjoying yerba mate tea you share the gourd (bowl) with a circle of friends and family. In order to follow these instructions, you will need some dried yerba mate leaves, a bombilla (a metal straw) and a gourd. Traditionally the one who prepares the tea is called the “cebador” and he/she will pour the water to the gourd and pass it to each person in their turn.
Here are the instructions:
- Heat some water to a temperature between 65 to 80 Celsius (or 150 to 175 Fahrenheit). You don’t have to be very accurate with the temperature, just don’t heat the water too hot so it starts boiling (or if you do, let it cool down a little). You can pour the water in a thermos to maintain its temperature.
- The cebador will fill about 2/3 of the gourd with yerba mate and tap the mate to one side of the gourd. There should be now a heap of mate on the other side of the gourd and a small “pit” on the other side.
- Next, the cebador will pour a bit of cold water on the heap of yerba mate to moisten it and gently put the filter end of your bombilla inside the heap. The cold water will help in preserving the integrity of the mate.
- Then hot water will be poured in the gourd by the cebador to fill it about half-way. The top of the heap should still remain dry.
- The cebador will sip the yerba mate tea through the straw and drink until there is no more tea in the gourd.
- Now the cebador will continue by pouring hot water again to the gourd and then passing the gourd to the next one in the circle. After the one drinking the mate has finished the gourd, he/she will pass the gourd back to the cebador.
- This continues until everyone in the circle will get their turn to drink. Then a new round can be started. If the yerba mate in the gourd starts tasting bland, its time to empty the gourd and then go back to step 2 (fill the gourd with new yerba mate).
Mastering the task of cebador can take some time. Don’t be afraid of making some mistakes, instead have fun learning. Just try to remember that you should avoid touching the bombilla during the process. Stirring can clog the bombilla and also it can cause the mate to get brewed too fast.
Below is a video about how to brew yerba mate tea the traditional way:
How to Brew Yerba Mate Tea with French Press
Using a french press to brew yerba mate tea is a very convenient way to make it.
- Put some yerba mate in a french press.
- Use a bit of cold water to moisten the mate.
- Add hot water and let it steep for a few minutes.
- Then press the plunger down to get clear green tea.
- After using all the tea from the french press you can add some more hot water to make more tea.
With a french press, you can easily adjust the strength of the tea by choosing how much yerba mate leaf you use and how long you let it steep. You can experiment with different amounts of yerba mate and brewing times between 1 to 3 minutes and see which method gives the best tea for your liking.
You can buy a good quality french press for a reasonable price from Amazon:
Or if you would like have an option that is a bit more rustic and close to nature see the Bamboo Wood french press below:
Tereré – Refreshing Ice-cold Mate
Tereré is a traditional way of making ice-cold yerba mate tea. It is very popular in the tropical parts of South America because it is incredibly refreshing during a hot day.
Here are the steps to make it:
- Fill a pitcher or a bowl with cold water and ice.
- Squeeze some fresh lime (or lemon) juice and add honey or sugar (or other sweeteners).
- Put some yerba mate leaves to a glass and insert a bombilla to the bottom.
- Pour the cold water in the glass and sip the tea.
- Pour some more water in the glass. You can also share it with others the same way as with hot yerba mate.
Another way of making cold refreshing yerba mate tea is to first brew hot mate with a french press (or with some other method) and then pour it into a pitcher. Next, you can add some lime or lemon juice, mint, honey, or whatever you prefer, and then let the mate tea cool down to room temperature. Then you can just add some ice cubes or put the yerba mate in a refrigerator until it’s cold. You can find more interesting yerba mate recipes in this article.
The Easy Way – Using a Tea Bag
Using a yerba mate tea bag is probably the easiest and fastest way to make yerba mate tea. Just put the tea bag in a cup, add hot water and let it brew for a few minutes. When using a tea bag the mate tea is usually quite mild depending on the amount of yerba mate in the bag and the amount of water and brewing time.
Read more about yerba mate tea bags in this article: Yerba Mate Tea Bags – Easy and Convenient
The Modern Way – Yerba Mate K-Cups
Yerba Mate K-Cup is another easy and fast way to brew a cup of tasty yerba mate tea. K-Cups are manufactured by taking loose leaf yerba mate and packing it into disposable K-Cups. You need a Keurig K-Cup brewer (or other K-Cup brewer) for brewing.
Yerba mate K-Cups are available in Amazon:
Yerba Mate Tea – Just the Way You Like It
There are many ways to brew and enjoy yerba mate tea. After waking up to a cold winter day you would probably want a hot cup of mate tea before going to work. You could try the traditional way of brewing and enjoying yerba mate tea when spending time with friends and relatives. However, in the middle of a hot summer day, you could choose to drink some ice-cold yerba mate tea with a dash of lime juice and some mint and honey. The choice is yours!
Now you know in theory how to brew yerba mate tea with different methods and it’s time to start experimenting! Read some of my yerba mate tea reviews in this article and check out the other reviews on this site also. You can try different yerba mate products and different methods of brewing it to discover your personal favorites. See the links in this article to find more information about yerba mate and to help you in choosing which yerba mate product to try.
I hope this article was useful to you. If you have any questions or comments, or if you want to share your experience related to brewing yerba mate, please post it in the comments section below.