Before the first use, you must fill it with yerba mate and hot water, and leave it to rest for at least a day – 24 hours. This way the container – the Mate - will be cured and the natural material (wood or gourd) will be infused with the taste of the yerba. Then wash the container and it is ready to enjoy a good mate.
Don’t forget that the wooden or gourd mates (containers) retain the taste in their pores, so you don’t need to follow this process if you have a glass or metal container.
The best way to drink the yerba mate is to relax and enjoy it. To prepare the Yerba in the traditional way, like the Guaraní indian did, take a little while. But it can become, for sure, part of the ceremony of drinking it.
1. Fill the container (Mate) with Yerba mate till approx. the half of it (more Yerba - stronger the taste).
2. Cover the opening of the Mate with your hand and shake it up and down. This way the powder of the Yerba will be at the top, witch prevent the the Bombilla from clogging.
3. Fill the Mate with warm (approx. 40°C) water (1/4 or so) and let it soak for around 2 minutes. This will avoid that the hot water "burns" the tea.
4. Add a little bit of hot water (70°-80°C) until the half of the Mate.
5. Enter the Bombilla until it hits the bottom of the Mate. The Bombilla will than be sounded with Yerba Mate.*
6. Now, add hot water (70°-80° C), almost filling the container (Mate). There is no problem if some leaves are left dry with the first fill; eventually all the Yerba leaves will be reached by the water.*
* Once you put the Bombilla in the hollow gourd, it should not be moved. Otherwise the Bombilla can be clogged.
The taste of the first Yerba Mate will be peculiar, some say strange, with a slight bitter taste. But don’t be afraid to try it.With time you will find your favorite taste (with or without sugar; mint; etc) as everybody does in South America. There are even some special recipes to prepare the Yerba Mate.
After the Calabaza was cured in a traditional way, the Calabaza now can be used for the first time.It is recommended to clean the cup form the yerba after every use. It would be also advisable to purge the Calabaza with water and let it dry with the opening up.A frequent mistake is, to let the cup dry with the opening down. Thereby the Calabaza stays longer wet and can be mold fast