By Ashley Hecht, Yoga+
Looking for a unique drink for the new year? Try yerba mate, a South American tea infusion with a brisk, earthy flavor. This legendary “drink of the gods” is traditionally passed around a circle of friends in a gourd with a metal bombilla, a straw that acts as a sieve, in a ceremonious gesture of hospitality. (You can find organic, fair-trade gourd gift packs at www.guayaki.com.)
For a mate party: Fill a gourd two-thirds to the rim with mate leaves and just enough cool water to cover the leaves (to help preserve nutrients). Let them soak for several minutes. Add hot water (boiling water can make the tea bitter), and insert the bombilla into the brew-it strains as you sip! Pass the gourd around to your friends, adding hot water as needed.
For a solo serving: Soak one teaspoon of mate leaves in a bit of cool water for several minutes, then steep in one cup of hot water for 3 to 10 minutes, strain, and enjoy.
Prep Tips: Sweeten your tea with honey or stevia. For a citrus flavor, add fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice. For a mate latte, prepare the tea with hot milk instead of water. Or spice it with fresh, shredded ginger and lemon juice.
Health Benefits: Yerba mate has similar caffeine content as coffee but tends to be gentler on the stomach. Plus, it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Ashley Hecht is a contributing author to Yoga+ Magazine