A Quick Guide to Yerba Mate Flavors
Yerba mate is not your regular boring old tea. Like coffee, it can be used for a wide variety of drinks – from simple, steeped concoctions, to more elaborately-flavored beverages like lattes and shakes. There are literally hundreds of ways with which you can enjoy different Yerba mate flavors, each of them refreshingly new and exciting in their way.
But before we delve into the world of flavored Yerba mate drinks, it’s important to learn how the tea itself is usually packaged and prepared. On the market, you can find pre-flavored yerba mate in bulk or tea bags.
Flavored Yerba mate
Yerba mate is mixed with herbs and aromatics such as mint, sage, rosemary, spearmint, and other spices. The result usually tastes very refreshing, with a little bit of kick from the blended herbs.
The addition of fruit flavors to yerba mate gives it an extra layer of sweetness. Common fruits that taste great when blended with yerba mate include lemon, pomelo, orange, and grapefruit.
Yerba mate and Guayusa
Yerba mate can taste bitter if prepared wrong. To offset the bitterness, some drinkers like to blend their yerba mate teas with Guayusa, a plant that is also known for its energizing properties. Yerba mate and Guayusa are related as sisters of the “holly tree” family and are both native to South America. Guayusa not only provides an extra caffeine kick to the tea, but it also gives the yerba mate a fruity, citrusy flavor to it with a touch of sweetness. Best thing of all, it’s hard to over-brew Guayusa, so even if you still mess up the brewing, you’re still bound to get some great-tasting tea out of it.
Popular Brands with pre-flavored Yerba mate
Fruit and herb infused Yerba mate blends. There are blends with grapefruit, guarana, orange, lemon, tropical fruit, forest fruit, valley fruit, as well as honey. Herbal blends are mountain herbs – Hierbas Serranas and cuyanas herbs. CBSé also produces a slimming mate tea blend called Silueta, with fennel, mint, rosehips, as well as added vitamins and minerals like Zinc, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, folic acid, and Vitamin B12.
Recognized as the world’s largest selling yerba mate brand, Taragui does not have a wide selection of blends like CBSe, but still, they offer some blended varieties. It has unflavored traditional and leaf-style blends, as well as fruit blended ones: Orange, Tropical with Passionfruit and Orange, Lemon and Grapefruit peel.
Guayaki prides itself for its organic and unique yerba mate blends. They have creative and tasty yerba mate flavors in tea bags, such as those flavored with chocolate, chai, and mint.
Art of Tea
Plenty of yerba mate and Guayusa blends for those that like extra citrus kick and astringent properties of Guayusa. On their website, you can find flavored yerba mate blends at its finest. Prices are higher than buying Yerba mate in bags but worth of money spent. Their Yerba originates from the rainforest of Brazil, and it is organic and handpicked. They offer following blends: Happy, Citrus mate, Cucumber Mint, and Hibiscus. Click on the image on the right to enter their online store.
FLAVOR YERBA MATE YOURSELF
Alternatively, instead of going for the pre-made blends that are available on the market, you can try making your unique yerba mate brew that is tailor-made according to your tastes.
Some of the yerba mate additions that you can include:
1. Orange or lemon peels
To add that citrus kick to your tea. Some people in Argentina mix their yerba mate with lemon soda and lemon powder for the citrus flavor.
Honey is a standard sweetener for this kind of tea. You can also use brown sugar and agave nectar.
Milk is not really what you would call an “orthodox” addition to yerba mate tea, but you can try adding a splash to your cup and see how you like it.
It sounds weird, but a lot of people mix yerba mate with coffee if they really need a drink to wake them up.
5. Your choice of mountain herbs and/or medicinal plants
Like peppermint, balm, sage, and other herbs? Then try brewing them along with your yerba mate.
Types of Yerba Mate Blends
Traditional Blend (also called as “con palo”)
Traditional yerba mate comes unflavored. The taste of the tea itself can range from mildly sweet to overwhelmingly bitter, depending on the species of the yerba mate plant that it was sourced from, the cut of the tea leaves, as well as the presence of stems and dust. The stems impart a nutty aftertaste while the yerba mate dust or powder provides a robust body to the drink. If you’re going to drink yerba mate with a traditional bombilla, it’s best to start with this kind of blend first since the stems prevent the bombilla from clogging up.
Suave Blend (also called as “smooth” blend)
True to its name, the suave yerba mate blend has a milder and smoother flavor than the traditional one. It is mostly made out of female plant leaves, and it also has a larger number of stems mixed into it. The extra stems reduce the bitterness by a considerable amount, and also stop the bombilla from clogging up. This blend is perfect for people who are just new to the world of yerba mate-drinking.
Leaf-Style Blend (also known as sin palos and despalillada)
Leaf-style blend is called as such because the tea is almost all leaves and the stems are basically non-existent. This kind of combination gives high nutrient extraction, which results into a strong-tasting tea. However, it’ll clog up your bombilla easily, since there are no stems that act as a filter for the leaves. Recommended for seasoned yerba mate drinkers. Newbies should start with the milder-tasting blends first.
Yerba mate is very popular in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Each country has its regional variation on the drink, thereby resulting in each country preferring one “style” of yerba mate preparation that is very distinct from the other.
Despite being the largest supplier of yerba mate in the world, Argentina still likes to keep things traditional. The country prefers their yerba with a medium leaf cut, with stems intact. The tea is often served in a traditional small gourd and a bombilla (metal straw).
Uruguayans like their yerba mate strong. They brew the tea for longer in larger gourds, and the tea itself must have a small leaf cut, with no stems.
Unlike its neighbors who love their hot teas, Paraguay serves yerba mate cold. The tea, which is similar to the Argentinian style- with stems intact- can be served in a guampa mate (bulls horn) mug with a bombilla.
Yerba mate flavors differ in many ways. From fruit or herbal blends, that can be bought, or you can try to do it yourself and also, from country to country. The best way to find a taste that will suit you is to try as many versions possible and catch that taste that you will really enjoy.