It is commonly said that “you get what you pay for,” and nowhere does this old adage ring more true than in the world of yerba mate wares. Choose yourself a high quality set of utensils from the outset and you may never need to replace them. Of the various pieces you will need to select when setting out on your mate journey, non is perhaps more important than the bombilla (metal straw). A well crafted straw can be the difference between a successful mate preparation and an unsuccessful one; the width of the shaft, the diameter of the filter holes, and the overall smoothness of the construction can all have a huge effect on the outcome of the session. If you’re brand new to yerba mate then by all means start by getting yourself a lower-priced but good quality straw. I would highly recommend the detachable stainless steel straw with gold cuffs.
My own personal mate journey was really transformed a few years ago when I purchased my first “premium” bombilla, the handmade stainless steel Lisa.
I will return to the Lisa later on, but for now I want to talk about a very special new bombilla available at UruShop, the Angled Bombilla with removable head.
The impressively sturdy Angled Bombilla is made from 1.2mm stainless steel. Constructed by a single Uruguayan artisan craftsman, its ingenious design means an invisible thread is hidden inside, creating the illusion of an almost seamless join when the filter is locked into place.
One advantage the Angled Bombilla has over some other premium Uruguayan bombillas is that the filter head can be fully removed for easy cleaning. Although in theory this makes it slightly weaker at the join than a solid straw like the Lisa, one gets no sense of this when pushing the head into a mound of soaking yerba. The wide angular head in fact makes it very easy to position when preparing mate the traditional way, as the defined edges easily penetrate moistened herb.
If there is one slight downside to its design it is that the large triangular head has a tendency to bring with it a fair bit of yerba when removing it from the mate cup. However, it more than makes up for this by being an excellent scoop with which to empty the gourd once the mate session is over.
In terms of drinking, the Angled straw has a very smooth action, with the carefully-sized filter holes allowing little yerba dust to find its way into the mouth. The thickness of the steel also plays a part in helping to cool down the hot liquid as it is drawn up the straw, and a discernable difference in temperature is noticeable between the Angled Bombilla and thinner bombillas when tested side-by-side using the same temperature water. Here then we see how a more “premium” bombilla can in one sense be more forgiving and aid your mate preparation, by allowing you a greater margin of error when preparing your hot water. We would of course still recommend taking all necessary steps to heat water to the correct temperature, as it will not prevent your mouth from getting burnt!
If you’re thinking about purchasing the angled bombilla then it is also worth considering what sort of mate cup will pair well with it. Being a fairly long and heavy straw, it naturally suits a bigger gourd, something like a large cuia style calabash or wooden cup would be ideal. As the straw has a tendency to pull quite a bit of material out with it when being removed, a gourd with a wider mouth would be best suited to avoid spillages over the side.
If I was starting afresh and having to choose between the new Angled Bombilla and my trusty Lisa bombilla, I think the Angled Bombilla might just have the edge, mainly because it is so much easier to remove those stubborn bits of yerba from the filter with a removable head. Both models though are of the highest quality, and both are definitely worth parting with your money for. Go on, take the plunge, look after these wonderful pieces and you may never again need another bombilla!