My new favorite tea is not a tea leaf at all, but a South American shrub that naturally contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and naturally occurring caffeine, all of which some say contribute to the energy people feel when drinking yerba mate. I have grown to love it for breakfast, and equally as a nightcap. Revitalizing and soothing...this tea does it all! Though traditionally prepared in a hollowed out gourd and sipped from a silver straw with a friend, I can get my hands on convenient teabags from Trader Joe's up the street. My recent discovery of adding dried goji berries to my yerba mate, along with some mesquite honey, has given my enjoyment of tea a facelift and a health boost. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants and have long been used by Eastern herbalists for many health benefits. Just add a few to a steeping cup of yerba mate, and enjoy when berries rehydrate and plump up. They are sweet and a bit tart, adding a wonderful twist to yerba mate's earthy, cross-between-green tea-and-coffee flavor. A few tips: 1) Yerba mate can be bitter, so just as you would with green tea, steep teabag in hot, but not boiling water. 2) Yerba mate teabags can be infused repeatedly because it is so strong. 3) Keep the steep to only about 3 minutes to avoid bitterness.
And, if you find yourself taking in the vistas over Red Mountain someday, stop in at The Avalache in Silverton, and try their memorable Mate Latte. Until then, cozy up to your own warm cup of good-for-you goodness.