Friday, April 21, 2006

Tea Review 66 - Yerba Mate (X2)

Canarias Yerba Mate
Amanda Yerba Mate

I know - yerba mate is not tea, at least not in the strictest sense of the word. But, as you've probably noticed, we take a pretty loose approach to semantics here at TGS.

Canarias yerba mate was the first "real" yerba mate I ever tasted. Real, in this sense, referring to loose yerba mate, consumed from a gourd (mate) using a filtered metal straw (bombilla).

Though I'd tasted yerba mate in tea bag form before, my first experience with Canarias almost caused me to spew a huge mouthful of it across the room. Given the fact that, since then, I've worked my way down to the dregs of a one kilogram bag, I guess you could say I've developed a taste for the stuff.

Canarias is apparently a product of Brazil. It's a mix of smaller leaves and what I'll refer to as dust - I'm not sure of the correct terminology. It's got a pretty strong flavor, compared to some of the other yerba mate I've tasted since, and it's got more than a hint of bitterness. That's not necessarily a bad thing, at least not as far as I'm concerned, and I think I actually prefer it to some of the smoother yerba I've tasted.

Amanda hails from Argentina and it's one of those smoother varieties of yerba mate, though not by much. It's got less dust, larger leaves and some light colored stems. I gather that the latter are not considered a desirable quality when it comes to yerba mate, but I could be mistaken about that.

Amanda was not nearly as pungent as Canarias and it had a fresher taste, kind of "greener", you might say. I don't know that I preferred either of these over the other. I think it's just a matter of what you're in the mood for.

There are a quite a few yerba mate merchants on the Web nowadays. Do a little snooping around to see which one you like the best. I ordered the Canarias from Natural Latitudes, who were kind enough to provide me with my mate and bombilla, and the Amanda from Yerba Mate Cafe. Also noteworthy are Yerba Mate CC, who claim to have "the most complete inventory of Yerba Mate Tea from South America, available anywhere!"

Shop For Yerba Mate

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