Last week on the UruShop blog we looked at North America’s biggest yerba mate company Guayaki. This week’s focus will be on the opposite end of the spectrum, and specifically on two individuals helping to promote mate from the grass roots. Meet The Mate Guys…
The Mate Guys is North America’s first podcast dedicated exclusively to the world of mate. Running since the beginning of 2016 and now in its 22nd episode, the podcast looks at all aspects of mate culture, from equipment and preparation methods, to examining different cuts and styles of yerba/erva.
The hosts, Stephen (left) and Clark (right), both residents of Provo, Utah, have each been drinking mate for six years. Both have also spent time in Brazil, an experience which most definitely cemented their love of mate. For Clark, the first time he tried mate, or rather chimarrão, he admits he hated it, but also that it sparked enough curiosity in him to want to try it again. A year later when it was prepared for him by a Brazilian friend he was hooked.
Stephen’s mate experience began not in Brazil but in the United States, when he was invited to dinner at an Argentine family’s house. Whilst waiting for the meal to be served, the host asked Stephen whether he had ever tried yerba mate? Upon producing a strange looking green herbal substance in a clear plastic bag, Stephen became a little anxious, but was soon assured that there was no reason to shut the curtains, as this was in fact a tea. His first sip on the piping hot metal straw was not a pleasant one, and he regretted taking such a big gulp. Later in 2010 he travelled to Brazil where he was offered cold-brewed yerba mate (tererê). Instantly he remembered the metal straw and the scolding hot liquid, but this was somehow different, somehow cooler, quite literally. On that same trip he also discovered chimarrão, and admits he spent a long time drinking “inferior” herbs, before eventually stumbling on the wonderful Barão de Cotegipe.
In the latest edition of the podcast, the Mate Guys break down some of their all time favourite mate products, including gourds, bombillas and yerbas/ervas. The first product under discussion was Kurupi con Anis, a new yerba by Paraguayan brand Kurupi, which just so happened to be what the pair were drinking in the studio that day. Blended with aniseed, this Kurupi variety has only just been released in Paraguay, and is comparable to the popular Campesino Anis. Although not yet available in the UK, with any luck we may one day see it here for sale at UruShop.
When discussing gourds and bombillas, both confess to owning far too many, with Clark saying that he had now limited himself to only buying pieces that really speak to him. Amongst his favourite gourds Stephen lists the Uruguayan leather wrapped “torpedo” style gourd sold by UruShop. Both also mention enjoying using mates made from palo santo wood.
When it comes to favourite yerbas/ervas, both hosts heaped praise on the much revered Rosamonte Especial, which also happens to be the first yerba that this author purchased from UruShop back in 2012. Stephen added that he has sampled many varieties of Argentine mate, yet keeps going back to Rosamonte.
Turning to Paraguay, both spoke fondly of the Kurupi Menta y Boldo, as well as Pajarito Especial and La Rubia, the latter Stephen claiming to be the best herb coming out of Paraguay today. Del Cebador was Clark’s choice for a favourite Uruguayan style yerba, describing it as “fluffy, malty, toasty, chocolatey and creamy”.
When it comes to Brazilian style chimarrão, both speak very highly of Meta Mate, for whom Clark is now Utah’s official rep. Stephen’s biggest love, however, remains Barão, and in particular the premium variety.
Listening to The Mate Guys podcast so far has given me great enjoyment, and I hope for it to continue for many episodes to come. Both Clark and Stephen clearly possess not only a great passion for yerba/erva mate, but an incredible knowledge of this drink. Here in the UK we could learn a lot from their approach, as a podcast appears to me to be the perfect way to communicate the unique culture and spirit of yerba mate to a new generation of drinkers.
Questions, comments? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org