Monday, July 11, 2005

Yerba Maté

Ok, so I am walking down the health food isle in the Provigo Grocery store and I stop at the herbal tea section. (I love herbal teas and I love trying new ones out.) What do I see? GUAYAKÍ Yerba Maté. I know Yerba Maté. You don't spend 6 months in Paraguay and not know yerba maté, more specifically, maté when drunk hot and tereré when drunk cold. In Paraguay you fill a cup-like instrument carved out of a horn or some wood, (can't remember the name of it) with your yerba, and you fill up a container of either hot water or cold water, then you sit around with your friends, family or co-workers and one person fills up the cup with water and passes the cup. You drink the maté or tereré out of a straw-like instrument with a small rounded strainer at the bottom called a bombilla. (Just so you don't get all the bits and pieces of yerba along with the drink kind of like the little round strainers some people put their tea leaves in before putting it in hot water to steep, instead of using tea bags, same prinicpal.) Everyone gets a turn. Yes you share the same cup and the same bombilla, not very hygienic but very,... how shall I put it? Community promoting? Paraguayans in general have a much greater sense of community than Canadians.

So, I stop to peer at the GUAYAKÍ Yerba Maté. I figure, it's yerba maté, what are the chances? Well, it happens to be imported by Guayakí Sustainable Rainforest Products, INC. in San Luis Obispo CA but it was grown by Chololo S.R.L. in Paraguay! The thing with this yerba maté is that it comes in tea bags and it also comes in 3 different flavours; Original, Orange Blossom Maté and another one, can't remember, but just as strange-sounding to me as Orange Blossom Maté. I wonder if even Paraguayans have ever heard of Orange Blossom Maté. I got that one though, just because as much as I like to try new teas, I also like to promote, support and use products that are organic and especially, FAIR TRADE, which this seemed to be. It is actually much more palatable (for those not used to drinking maté or tereré) than what is drunk in Paraguay. In fact, I barely recognized it as maté. (Must have been the orange blossoms.) (More specifically; the orange peel, lemon peel, rosehips, cinnamon, orange oil and stevia, all organic of course... but none of which are found in the maté I am used to drinking.)

So this yerba maté is apparently rainforest-grown, but I kind of wonder where they found the rainforest to grow it in in Paraguay since, technically, there isn't really a rainforest in Paraguay... The north of Paraguay is desert and the south is forested but I wouldn't call it rainforest. Not any more than you could call Northern Ontario or Northern Québec a rainforest. Definitely not a jungle. But anyway,...

Go to Guayakí
Get your cow horn mate "cup" here (Or at least look at them) You can also view some wood ones and some gourd ones.