Recently, we came across a cafe in Toronto that offers Yerba mate tea. The drink is highly popular in South America, particularly in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Revered as the “drink of the gods”, it was discovered by the Guaraní who were a semi-nomadic people of the forest and were the first to harvest and drink yerba mate. In the 16th century in Argentina, the Spanish conquistadors took a liking to it and spread the consumption of the herbal tea.
Today, Yerba Mate is known as the national drink of Argentina, and is consumed by millions of South Americans as an alternative to coffee. The dried leaves (yerba) are steeped in a gourd (mate) and the resulting tea is drunk through a metal straw, known as a bombilla. The drink is most often enjoyed in social settings, such as family gatherings or with friends and is shared with everyone. While many people consider Yerba mate to be an acquired taste, it’s nonetheless an interesting drink to try for it’s cultural and historical significance. If you’re looking to try Yerba mate in Toronto, be sure to stop by the El Almacen Café along Queen Street West.