The story behind the celebration of an icon of Argentinian culture and the keys to an indispensable ritual.
For six years, every November 30, Argentina has celebrated the National Mate Day, one of the greatest symbols of our culture. It is a celebration established by Congress through law 27,117, in commemoration of the birth of the Guaraní commander Andrés Guacurarí y Artigas (1778-1821), adopted as a son by the Rio de la Plata leader José Gervasio de Artigas.
Between 1815 and 1819, the commander "Andresito", as he was popularly known, governed the Greater Province of the Missions and had a fundamental role in the production and commercialization of yerba mate. "Andresito" gave a crucial kick so that mate became what it is today for Argentines, an indissoluble part of our "DNA". Our emblem infusion never demands much of us: hot water, a more or less small bowl, a light bulb and the herb. Nothing so deserved, then, that he had a day to himself, although he really is our friend of all hours and every day.
Secrets of the mate ritual
Although the cultural essence of mate is the idea of “sharing”, in each house there is a different ritual: a favorite brand of yerba, a mate style and even a light bulb format. Whether we know it or not, mate has its own language and even a kind of "protocol". The first person drinking should take the first two, and then pass it to the round clockwise. When one of the participants says “thank you” when handing it over to the starter, it means that he is leaving the circuit, and that that was the last mate for him. Although it is very common that, like the owner of the ball, the one who puts the thermos and the mate is the one who has the order, which is usually more chaotic and choppy when the mate takes place in an office or in a work environment.
Keys to prepare a good mate
- The water temperature must not exceed 75 °.
- Mix the yerba before preparing the mate to obtain the precise flavor of each recipe.
- Fill only ¾ of the mate and tilt the yerba to one side. Moisten the herb on the low side with warm water.
- Wait for it to absorb, prime again and only then place the bulb.
The secrets of yerba mate
A frequent question is whether it is okay for the Yerba to have stick and powder. To answer this question, it is useful to know some data about the production of yerba mate. From Establishment Las Marías, they say that each native tree of our land is planted and harvested by hand. And that each part of the plant has a crucial role. The thick blade provides balance and performance; the thin leaf gives more intensity and flavor to the product; the leaf powder is key to providing foaminess and body to the infusion and the stick is a vital element within the composition, as it structures the barley. A fact that is added from Taragüí is that when the parked yerba enters the mill it is combined according to origin and harvest time, it is ground and all the ingredients are separated (stick, thick leaf, fine leaf and leaf powder) to mix them again in your just measure. Walter Martínez, head of quality control at Establishment Las Marías, affirms that the experts test 450 mates per day to adjust the flavor of each of their brands in their different varieties.