Friday, May 21, 2010

THE SOUTH AMERICAN SUPERFOOD


From left to right: loose yerba maté, traditional gourd and bombilla

For years, South Americans have been drinking
yerba maté for it’s believed legendary body and soul benefits. Gathering together to share an infusion of this native species of holly as a friendship ritual several times a week is common throughout Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and southern Brazil.

Because of its lower caffeine content, maté has been gaining popularity in the U.S. as a healthy alternative to coffee. It packs a powerful, beneficial punch, including anti-obesity and cholesterol lowering properties and antioxidant potential. If you want to get the most out of maté it’s best to buy loose leaves at your favorite local tea and spice shop, and infuse them the traditional South American way — in a gourd, sipped through a metal straw with a filter at the end called a bombilla. But infusing mate as you would any other tea and adding sweetened milk as in the recipe for Maté Latte below will make for a lighter, sweeter beverage for those who prefer milk and sugar with their coffee.


MATE LATTE

Ingredients:

5 ounces hot, but not boiling, water
3 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon loose yerba mate leaves
Agave nectar to taste

Infuse the mate: Place mate into an in-cup infuser or tea ball. Place the infuser into a double-walled glass or mug. Combine the hot water and almond milk. Pour the liquid into the infuser, over the loose mate, allowing it to seep in. Brew for four to six minutes, depending on desired strength. Add agave nectar to taste. Stir with a spoon, or froth with a frother for a more latte-like appearance. Serve.

For more information about brewing mate the traditional way, see 50 Ways to Brew Your Maté: Gourd and Bombilla.

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